Comedy Central first with Rumsfeld news

by Mathew on November 9, 2006 · 8 comments

Muhammad Saleem over at Mu Life — a great new blogger I’ve recently discovered who focuses on social media — posted something about how Digg and Netscape had the news that Donald Rumsfeld had resigned long before Google News (long in this case being 20 minutes). His post was noticed and linked to by Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion and by Jeremiah Owyang, among others.

As I pointed out to Muhammad and Steve, however, it looks to me like Comedy Central actually broke the news a full 35 minutes before either Digg or Netscape got to it. If anything could reinforce how disrupted the journalism business has become, it’s the fact that a comedy channel can break news — which may not be all that surprising, considering that surveys show many younger people get their news from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.

daily show

Of course, as Matt Sparkes notes on his blog, Digg and Netscape didn’t “break” the Rumsfeld news — they were simply the first to link to the Associated Press story. That’s not really the same thing. So it’s not really fair for Muhammad to title his post “Why Socially Driven News Is Better.” Faster, maybe — but not necessarily better.

That doesn’t mean Digg and Netscape and similar tools aren’t still a threat to newspapers, mind you, since in many cases newspapers just print the Associated Press stories too. And that is becoming harder and harder to justify.

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  • Rob Hyndman

    Well, this is a little like arguing whether Kasparov or Big Blue is going to win the match, isn’t it? Google is automated and Digg / Netscape rely on human filtering, so the issue is simply how fast the gerbils are running on the Google wheel and how many people are awake and posting to Digg / Netscape at the time? I’ll go out on a limb here and even predict that Google’s news spidering will get even faster in the future. Digg – a little, but likely not so much. Those Google gerbils, they never sleep, and they always win in the end.

    Oh, and all Google has to do is post an AP feed and it wins this race? Hmmm. Me not get.

    And as to Comedy Central, I agree it’s a fun fact, but surely this is a fluke, yes? Someone happened to hear? So they “broke” it because they have a blog on which they can publish it? That’s not really anything to hang a hat on, IMO. And even then, it looks like the info didn’t come from Comedy Central staffers, but rather came from someone they brought in from the outside for a day – a “token conservative” – to help them blog the election, who had his own sources, and happened to hear this the very time he happened to be blogging at CC’s Indecider blog.

    Again, fun for sure, but not sure it means anything vis-a-vis CC vs. old news media. It probably just reminds us that anyone can report, and anyone can publish.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Agreed on the Google gerbils. But I think the Comedy Central thing is a little more than a “fun fact” and a fluke — although it is both of those things as well, of course. I think the point is in your comment: it reminds us that anyone can report, and anyone can publish. It’s no coincidence that right in the middle of the word “disintermediation” is the word “media” :-)

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  • Melissa


    Just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog in my column on today. Thanks!

    If you want to take a look, here’s the link:



  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks for the link, Melissa.

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