THE BLOG

The Rise of Social Media Was Brian Williams' Downfall

02/12/2015 12:57 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams attends the premiere screening of 'Faces of America With Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.' at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

The Brian Williams "misremember" scandal highlights how micro-media sites hold so much more public power than mass media.

Think about it.

Mass media always operates as a top-down approach model. The reporters cover the story, and you get to see what they only witness or hear. Tune in at six for one layer of context.

We turn on our televisions and we sit and ingest the news of the day. At the end of it our news bellies are full of content which we ponder and muse and then sit back satisfied that we are a bit smarter than we were before.

Then the Internet was created and that gave us an appetite for more.

The Williams affair only became a story because a flight engineer reportedly posted on the Nightly News Facebook page saying he did not remember Williams being on the flight in Iraq. Now Williams is suffering a social media backlash.

Imagine if social media had been around in 2003 during the Williams chopper saga?

Nobody had an iPhone back then. Facebook was founded in 2004. YouTube became the digital tele-screen of 2005, followed by Twitter in 2006. Sure the Internet was around but people didn't have the means or methods to share their information.

Imagine now if they did?

Williams' story would have easily been berated in a matter of minutes. Sadly his network held onto that story for a decade. Ten years later it would then remarkably lose control of public trust as the story would get re-told by a spider web of social network news consumers who shared control of the chopper tale with one another on multiple channels.

Social media is giving the public the power to search, compare share, swap, and post and salivate over salacious news nuggets within seconds. What trends on social media determines what makes the headlines by mass news media now, not the reverse. Social media controls the narrative of news content and mainstream media push it out likes it's their own.

The change in the delivery of news forces us all to do what good authentic journalists already do and that's ask questions, ask questions and ask more questions until you are certain the story is right.

While social media may still be considered by some the wild west of news content, it at least affords the consuming news public of the 21st century information age, that we have the power and responsibility to source our own credible information but also hold our public advocates of news content in the mainstream and in the digital sphere accountable, to get the story right.

Remember that. Now back to you.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Brian Williams Through The Years