Providing material for late night talk show hosts, inspiring discussions about the decline of journalistic integrity, and leaving a trail of deleted tweets in its wake, the misreporting of the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act on CNN and Fox News is the latest example of how advances in communication technology have shaped global events in the last decade.
Americans tuned in to all their favorite news sources and social media platforms at 10 a.m. eastern time last Thursday to find out whether the Supreme Court would uphold or overturn some or all of President Obama’s health care reform law. In the hours before the decision, reporters and demonstrators stood at the ready outside the court building, anchors went over potential implications of the ruling, and politicians speculated about the result.
Shortly after 10 o’clock, CNN and Fox News – two of the major TV news networks — erroneously reported that the law was overturned. Back in the studio anchors jumped right into analyzing the loss for the president and declaring a Republican victory. Meanwhile, other networks and publications were reporting that the legislation was upheld.
Less than 10 minutes later both networks correctly reported that the act was upheld. But the conflicted reports had confused many reacting on social media platforms, including politicians and pundits who deleted their misinformed posts minutes later. But not before a few telling screenshots were taken.
Technological advances have created an explosion of new communications channels and platforms that have fundamentally changed our ability to access, create, share, and find information. The impact of these changes is far reaching, reshaping the nature of not only politics and journalism, but business and society.
Ultimately, the next big social media channel, news story, or corporate buzz word will always we right around the corner. To avoid getting caught up in chasing the shiny, new thing, Communicators must continually come back to centering every planning meeting, brainstorm or strategy discussion on the desired behavior or outcome.
Check out comprehensive guidance on grounding social media in overall Communications strategy, use this Channel Selection Tool to think about channel selection based on the purpose of the communication and its intended audience, and learn how Eli Lilly and Company uses a simple scenario planning template to outline the key strategy assumptions affecting the business.
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