Friday evening Lil Wayne had a seizure and was reportedly checked in to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The appearance of Lil Wayne at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was neither confirmed or denied by hospital staff as per their policy. But according to reports, Wayne is recovering and not dying. That is exactly the reverse of what TMZ.com reported on Friday night: that Lil Wayne was being read his last rights – that even as friends took to Twitter to say he was doing better than reported.
What was social media’s reaction to TMZ’s error? It served as a rapid corrective to the bad content. And if we consider the evolution of the various forms of media, from blogs to online videos, and now Twitter and social media systems like Facebook, the whole acts as a large device for the constant correction of news, and indeed has served to replace the role not only once singularly held by journalists, but one that some journalists say their role is in the 21st Century: as fact checker.
While Twitter is the social network most mentioned here so far, its not the most widely used one according to socialmention: Photobucket is, but not by much. Still, Photobucket’s role in this dissemination of news and commentary about Mr. Wayne has been to be the distributor of all kinds of photos and gifs related to the news of Lil Wayne’s seizures and hospitalization. Twitter’s worked to help distribute those images.
The result was that by very early Saturday morning, TMZ’s error, and not its news, was the talk of social media, and in turn impacted what was reported on television.
This development in the evolution of social media happens quite frequently today, but is seldom talked about. I mention it because I never got my 2009 interview with then San Francisco Chronicle Executive Editor At Large Phil Bronstein out of my mind. This long interview…
Set the tone for how journalists thought about technically-forced changes in media at the time and how that impacted what they do, as well as their future value in media.
I think now it’s time to have a new conversation about the future of journalism, because this Lil Wayne story’s painting a dark picture.