Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Media Grinches of Hurricane Sandy: The Liars, The New York Post and Gawker

A natural disaster is a time for class, dignity, exchange of news instead of rumor (ahem, oh well) and a sense of humor where warranted. (Everyone's mileage will vary on what's funny and when, of course. One mild ill-timed joke, and you're the most-hated person on Twitter.) With millions of people without power, low-lying areas flooded and some generally scary stuff going on, it's a little tense! The good news is, here in New York City most workplaces are being sensible with their employees—I mean, they kind of have to be, given that no one can go anywhere, what with every subway tunnel flooded.

But then there's bad taste and bad priorities—and ill will.

For starters, there were the rumor-mongers and liars, who got thrills out of spreading disinformation.

And then? This deleted New York Post tweet above, screenshotted here by Bro Pair, certainly takes the stupid cake. (It's also nonsensical, psycho axe-grinding; likely that's a picture from the East Village.)

And then there's Gawker chief Nick Denton, who was among Internet honchos who engages a data center in downtown Manhattan, which, unshockingly to anyone who's read a weather report in the last five days, didn't make it. (The rest of us made data center preparations; even then, some of us went down after midnight.) Denton sent an all-staff memo at 9:50 p.m. last night, well after his sites went down, and they remain down: "If you're working tonight and tomorrow and the sites are still not back: post on Twitter and Facebook. (That is if you still have internet and power yourself.)" Um, why? Why on earth should the staff bother? (One argument: "because they get a paycheck." One counterargument to that: because they just got hosed on the employee traffic bonus system, during a major news event, due to forces beyond their control.)

17 Comments / Post A Comment

"Twitter’s capacity to spread false information is more than canceled out by its savage self-correction"? Seriously? Ask all those people who still think that Kanye West declared himself King of Pop after Michael Jackson died.


@Maura Johnston A Kanye hoax from 2009 has basically nothing to do with what I'm talking about here? The same traits that make Twitter maddening w/r/t low-information stuff like that make it effective during something like a storm, where there *is* lots of information that needs to be sorted.

It's not "panglossism," just an observation that some processes are faster and better now.

@John Herrman@twitter Better for people who exist in a bubble of people digging deeper for truth, maybe. On the whole, though, misinformation sticks much more persistently than its corrections, particularly when said misinformation confirms already-extant biases.

@Maura Johnston Maybe. I suppose I'd just rather we be litigating this stuff now, in near real time, rather than over months and years + selectively. When a myth crops back up a few weeks from now, at least there will be a same-day fact check we can refer back to.

@John Herrman@twitter But who's "we" in your argument? I brought up the Kanye thing because, while it's three years old, there are still people thinking it's true today. (It was a story picked up by a gossip site from a satirical outlet that, becasue it wasn't The Onion, wasn't thought of as such on first blush, even though one of the related articles was about McDonald's admitting the use of Soylent Green in its food.)

Chris ZS (#177,483)

@Maura Johnston So we should rid the world of sharp objects and pointy things because some people can't handle that? Perhaps to some degree, but keep your hands off my kitchen drawer.

@Chris ZS That's not what I am arguing at all, but thanks for being disingenuous. I'm merely saying that a lot of "internet is great!" analysis is coming from a privileged, and self-examination-free, place.

Jim Behrle@twitter (#13,157)

I'm a little sad I didn't make this list

Danzig! (#5,318)

@Jim Behrle@twitter Yr #1 in my heart, Jim

Abe Sauer (#148)

I remember when North Dakota couldn't even get enough attention to get snarked on. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/03/red_river_flooding.html

Anyway, at least Gawker's money is dry. Unless it's flooding in eastern Europe.

WindowSeat (#180)

Where will I go for all my Bloomberg Boner needs with Gawker down?

NinetyNine (#98)

"They like to cheap out on colo, generally."

TheRtHonPM (#10,481)

Due respect to you, Choire, and I get where you're coming from. But as a small business owner myself, if one of my employees declined to help out in a crisis on the grounds that it was a management screwup (even a foreseeable one!), my response would be, "I accept your resignation."

@TheRtHonPM It's always valuable to point out how Denton screws his staff over. Small business owner, though, c'mon. He's a millionaire megalomaniac with a penchant for destroying working conditions and salaries. $20 says he'd issue the above directive and then decline to pay anyone because they weren't proper blog posts.

TheRtHonPM (#10,481)

@Hiroine Protagonist Oh sure! Completely agree. I'm just saying that maybe in the middle of a crisis, it's better for an employee to say, "you'll pay us generously to save your ass, right?" rather than "this is your fault, so get stuffed". And to be clear my business 'empire' is a couple orders of magnitude smaller than Denton's.

1332847381@twitter (#251,910)

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