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The Bizarre Nature Of Internet Newscasting

June 15, 2005

I'm out on the road this week, visiting vendors up and down the Northern California coast. But I have a great "Web news" story to relate. Of course, it's only great in retrospect. It wasn't great at the time.

About 9:00 pm PST last night, I was checking e-mail, with a television doctor drama (House M.D.) on in the background. Suddenly, the show is interrupted for a newscast. The anchorwoman's voice was fairly urgent. "Due to an offshore earthquake of 7.5 magnitude off the coast of Eureka, California, the northern California coast has been issued a tsunami warning. The tidal wave, should it occur, will happen within the next 15 minutes. More information to follow. Now, back to your program."

Yeah. I was really interested to see the rest of that show. Nothing else to do while I wait for the tidal wave! (My hotel is a block from the water.) I spoke with my equally freaked out colleague, Karl Sundstrom, on the phone, and quickly logged into Google, using "California" and "tsunami" as search terms. Within 15 minutes I found that the tsunami warning had been rescinded. Not from the TV news or the San Francisco newspapers...but from the U.K. newspaper "The Scotsman." They were the first to post the info.

Geographical proximity means less than nothing nowadays in the era of Internet news.

TES




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