Dr Mumbo

Nine News boss: if Twitter fools highly trained pros like us, God help the public

Dr Mumbo has to admire the pluck of Nine News boss Mark Calvert for tackling the subject of the network’s premature announcement of actor Jeff Goldblum’s death.  

He tells Telstra’s Now We Are Talking:

“None of us are perfect. And we were one of the networks that were caught up in what turned out to be an internet hoax on the morning that Michael Jackson died when the news went around that Jeff Goldblum the actor had also died. And because everyone was on air live – and I include Nine in this – we gave credibility to some of those reports.”


Which is sort of true. Although he did perhaps accidentally use the words “one of the networks” when he meant to use the words “the network”.

But the best bit is what it all goes to show:

“And that’s just one illustration of the Internet and how its mass of content can catch even professionals out so. God help less well trained and less cautious consumers of this stuff. Because there’s stuff out there that just ain’t true and it makes life tougher for everyone.”

God help us indeed. He is, of course, right. If even Richard Wilkins could have been fooled by the sophisitcated conspiracy (He read about it on Twitter, followed a link to a fake website, and from that told viewers: “New Zealand Police are saying that is a correct story,”) then it could so easily happen to any one of us.

Earlier in the conversation, Calvert mentions those “who are able to pump out what looks on the face of it like news content without any great filter or the normal journalistic checks and balances”. This, he suggests, is the province of “the maverick parties out there with some of the more crazy takes on news stories. The blogs, the conspiracy theorists.” Not Richard Wilkins, of course.

Calvert adds: “That’s making the whole landscape much more interesting and much more challenging for us. But also much more interesting and challenging for online users who are probably finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate between what’s true, what’s not, what’s fact, what’s fiction.”

He concludes: “Very quickly we were able to check and dismiss the death of Jeff Goldblum but not before the reporting of his death had become an internet phenomenon.”

Perhaps this is the internet phenomenon he’s talking about:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jeff Goldblum Will Be Missed
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Meryl Streep

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