New ways of transmitting information that results in reports being spread at unprecedented speeds invariably leads to issues in verification: Sounds like a statement about 21st century social media and journalism, right? Wrong. Well, at least in in this case. Here, I’m talking about how the story of the Titanic’s iceberg-striking ultimate fate broke, developed and spread.

New ways of transmitting information that results in reports being spread at unprecedented speeds invariably leads to issues in verification: Sounds like a statement about 21st century social media and journalism, right?

Wrong. Well, at least in in this case. Here, I’m talking about how the story of the Titanic’s iceberg-striking ultimate fate broke, developed and spread.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead has put together a feature for the anniversary that explains how the sinking of the ocean liner ushered in a new era of journalism, a whole lot of confusion and issues surrounding vertification that led to inaccurate reports early on.

Wireless telegraphy was relatively new at the time, and thus, had never really been used to handle the transmission of a story of this magnitude. As The Forum reported:

News that the Titanic had possibly hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland was picked up by other ships. The signals reached onshore receiving stations of the then-state-of-the-art wireless radio system patented by Guglielmo Marconi.

There, each scrap of detail was eagerly snatched up, passed on, then passed on again.

Media historians would dub the great ship’s demise as the first modern news story, which relied on a “global village” to spread information on an event of worldwide significance.

They continue, noting the role technology played in the reporting:

Sometimes the fragments of news, traveling fast as lightning, got garbled.

This explains some first-day reports of the ship being towed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, with everyone safe. Amid the wireless chatter crackling across the airwaves, someone asked about the Titanic passengers’ safety – and the response somehow got mixed up with a message that another vessel was safely under tow, Butler says.

The feature also notes that this was the story in which The New York Times became the lead authority with its reporting – a lead that the writers note, has never been relinquished.

As Poynter pointed out, The Forum was among the papers that ran its newspaper edition today with a front page that mimicked that which could have been seen in 1912.

 

[node:ad]

 

UPDATE: Monday, April 16 4p.m. to correct copy editing error in headline