Maybe Journalism

December 6, 2009by

Yesterday (Dec 5) Noam Cohen reported (via NYT) on a computer generated account of Tiger Woods’ recent accident. Described as a kind of “maybe journalism,” this visual form of gossip could give journalists, professional and nonprofessional alike, a whole new way to spin the news.

The minute-and-a-half-long digitally animated piece was created by Next Media, a Hong Kong-based company with gossipy newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The video is one of more than 20 the company releases a day, often depicting events that no journalist actually witnessed — and that may not have even occurred.

What would it mean if this were to become a standard technique for reporting those aspects of a story no one can know for certain about? Does the average person actually have the critical capacity to recognize such outright speculation? If we’ve leaned anything from the War of the Worlds debacle, to name just one example, I’d lean toward a no on this one.

Keith Olbermann certainly is not impressed.