This post was originally written in March of 2009. That’s almost 12 years ago. I can’t believe I was already posting random things no one read that long ago. Anyway, a lot has changed since I wrote this. Most news now does start with a link or a tweet. People aren’t generally hearing news for the first time on a live news broadcast. The link or it didn’t happen theory is still out there though. Soon after the bombing in Nashville(remember that? seems it faded from the news pretty quick) the police in Lexington, KY evacuated part of downtown while they investigated a suspicious RV. Many people first heard of this when a former Kentucky basketball player tweeted about being out at dinner with his wife when it happened. He was parked near the RV so he had a first hand account of what was happening. Someone responded to the tweet that says he is on scene with “Source?” He was there on scene but because he didn’t cite a source that was not “I’m on scene” they doubted the information. Kind of like the “link or it didn’t happen” scenario I wrote about 12 years ago. You can find that in the following paragraphs.
Like every other obsessed Kentucky basketball fan, I have been following the firing of Billy Gillispie and the search for a new UK basketball coach. One place I look for information is The Cat’s Pause message boards. One phrase I keep seeing in the board is “link or it didn’t happen”. As with most people of the internet generation, the people on the board believe that if it is not being reported on the internet, it is not real news. One such posting of the phrase was after someone posted something they heard live on the local news. There is still journalism happening in the world that does not have it’s base in the internet, email or anything more sophisticated than a telephone. Here is the most likely scenario for the story heard on the news:
Local reporter with ties to university has friends on staff as sources. Source hears information the coach will be fired. Source calls local reporter to tell him. He alerts producers who break into live news broadcast to report the news. Notice the absence of the internet? I’m sure this type of reporting goes on all the time. Of course, eventually, there will be a link once the story is typed up and posted on the station’s website. The lack of the link during the live broadcast does not make the news any less real. I would be more likely to believe that story than the hundreds of internet rumors that pop up every day. These rumors have links that can be shared, but this doesn’t make them true. At least the reporters for the most part will actually verify the story before running it. Anyone with a computer can make up a story. Just having a link doesn’t mean it happened anymore than no link means it didn’t.