A small story becomes a big story because of the Internet. The recent media frenzy over a passenger being removed from an overbooked United flight has been interesting to watch.
Back in the day, news rooms decided on the merits of a story. The editor edited. Now, the Internet can decide that a story is news worthy, and then even more serious news outlets (yes, a few remain) have to run the story too.
The United story would have been a non-story without video. The two (or was it more?) videos that circultated made this a story, because they were dramatic, and there was even some blood involved.
After the initial reports (videos plus sketchy details), we are then treated to the United response (another chance to run those videos), plus the tracking down of the passenger involved and the inevitable scrutiny of their personal life. Then we have more bad stories about United (any large airline will have some controversial or negative incidents attached to them), and for the next two weeks any stories about airlines behaving badly will be fast tracked.
Next we’ll have government response, and perhaps even new legislation, all on the back of a small but regrettable incident that got blown out of all proportion by the Internet.
I’m not knocking the Internet. It’s how I started, and it’s how I (largely) communicate as a media person. But the way incidents like these suddenly become news shows there’s something wrong with our news outlets. In the wine world, we should be wary of letting the agenda be set by noisy, or controversial, or simply ill-informed people. Or people who are simply famous. Some people are just famous for being famous, without every contributing anything substantial.
Also, if you are going to do something bad, then make sure you don’t do it where you can be filmed and end up on the Internet.
Also, don’t join internet mobs. Don’t throw combustible materials on internet fires. Don’t waste time on news as entertainment.