SNDS chairman Anders Tapola took the journey around social media in search for good news but also notice the hate on the Internet after the Norway tragedy
I subscribe to a number of news flash messages; among others, one from Washington Post. “Earthquake near Washington D.C.” – this was the headline of a recent one.
Information was sparse. The website did not add much. So, naturally, I logged into Facebook. Much better news coverage here. Learned here that the earthquake had been felt in a series of locations far from the Washington area – even all the way up in Toronto, Canada.
I also read that those who live close to the epi center were alright, although a bit shaken, so to speak. There were even photos of journalists gathering outside the Washington Post only ten minutes after the news flash.
The big question was: Is it a common thing to experience earthquakes in Washington?
I’m checking Facebook again. I quickly find a map showing the most active areas for earthquakes, with links to among others huffingtonpost.com, and I real ize that out of 50 states in the US, 39 have a ‘medium’ or ‘large’ risk of having earthquakes.
Within minutes Ernie Smith on his blog at shortformblog.tumblr.com added to this map the locations of all the nuclear power plants of the US.
The Boston Globe attributed with a large infographic of the east coast, showing where people had reported in that they had registered the earthquake. It looks like a wasp swarm of yellow dots.
Charles Apple’s blog apple.copydesk.org also had a very thorough account of what happened within an hour of the quake. Among other things, he stats that Twitter was a great source of information just after the event – if only you follow the right persons. Now, I’m not on Twitter, but quite a bit of the information there ended up on Facebook as well.
Mr. Apple, who lives in Virginia Beach, could also feel the earthquake. And he was actually hurt – he sprained his foot when jumping down the stairs to find out what happened to his neighbors.
My conclusion is: The social networks are fantastic information channels for news events like this one. Besides, you get personal testimonies from friends who are in the area. Maybe not indepth analysis. But how do you analyze an earthquake?
The terrible tragedy in Norway in July made me do almost nothing but absorb news for four whole days. I constantly checked Aftenposten, VG, Dagbladet and many other Norwegian news websites. I wanted to know more, I wanted to understand what had happened.
But more than anything I watched TV. The Swedish channels soon tapped into the broadcasts of Norwegian NRK that covered the story very well. And how strange – that we need to have a tragedy like this one before we, in Sweden, are able to watch Norwegian television.
Finally, a few words about one of the strongest aftershocks following the Oslo and Utøya tragedy: the hate that now blossoms on the internet. A hate often hidden behind anonymity – a result of the Facebook revolution, where anybody can be a reporter.
In Sweden, a very positive discussion is now going on about how to handle the internet hate that is showing up in the commentary fields of news postings; among other places the discussion is taking place at medievarlden.se.
The media companies must join the discussion – and set the tone of the debate, says Anders Mildner, a journalist who follows the social media intensively.
According to CBS radio journalist Ira Basen (in an interview on Sveriges Radio P1:s OBS) the voices on the internet’s socalled citizen journalism represent less than one percent of the population.
If this is true a microscopically small minority produces an enormously large amount of content. The question is – how many of these people are actually racists, extremists, conspiration theorists, terrorist, or in short: people who hate?
Hopefully not that many after all. The Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg promises of more openness and democracy as a means to fight the hate seem exactly right at this moment.
The word is a mighty weapon.
But we must think carefully about the words and the tone of voice we use.