Wednesday, May 04, 2005

MSNBC Name Change Rumors and Drudge Report: Where is our news coming from?

Several news sources are now citing a Drudge Report item that sketches out an apparent name change for cable news network MSNBC to NBC News Network.

From the New York Post:

The new channel will be called NBC News Channel, according to the Internet's Drudge Report — apparently losing its connection to software giant Microsoft.

The change has long been rumored to be in the works.

Last March, it was reported that NBC and Microsoft (the "MS" part of MSNBC) were negotiating to sever their nine-year partnership for the channel.

"The new name is cleaner, less confusing... represents the programming," Drudge quoted an insider as saying.

No word on when the change might come.

The item, which began as a tease on Drudge Report, now links back to the New York Post story... which sources Drudge Report.

This appears to be is a perfect example of how the Internet can generate widespread and widely covered news reports based upon... almost nothing at all. The hypercycle of news and information that we have today clearly has a blind spot for fact-checking, and sometimes the truth. Organizations such as Drudge Report have the opportunity to take advantage of this, and perhaps destroy lives, careers, fortunes, or candidacies in the process.

An MSNBC spokeswoman yesterday labeled the report "nothing more than an Internet rumor."

It might not be long before we get all of our news from the Amazed Scientists and Shocked Observers who form the reporting staff for such supermarket publications as Weekly World News.

Veteran PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer was recently interviewed on Chris Matthews's Hardball program (on MSNBC, of all places). He talked about how, in this environment of the news hypercycle, people will begin to yearn for the old fashioned style of journalism where "just the facts" are reported.

I hope he's right.

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