60 Minutes aired an in-depth story billed as an “unprecedented behind-the-scenes look” at the National Security Agency (NSA) on December 15.
The long-format piece generated immediate backlash on social networks and online news sites, labeling the story everything from “one-sided” to “propaganda” for the NSA. From the segment reporter Jon Miller’s former employment in the office of the director of National Intelligence to the lack of dissenting voices featured in the piece – nearly everything was scrutinized by various online posts and comments. And all of this after Lara Logan’s flawed Benghazi Report on 60 Minutes in October. It’s clear the gold standard of television journalism has taken some serious hits.
It all calls into question the state of journalism, the race to be “first” with breaking news and lack of proper fact checking. And while the number of layoffs and closures at “traditional” news outlets over the past six years have left many concerned about who will fill the role of the FifthEstate, these recent guffaws at major news outlets are making one thing crystal clear: social networks and non-traditional news outlets have evolved into a checks-and-balances Estate of their own.
Jim Licko is a Senior Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy at GroundFloor Media, and as a former broadcast reporter, he still reads a hard copy of the morning paper with his coffee, but does so while also reading through his Twitter stream.