"Our graphics department — I’m sorry, our photojournalists"

Journalism Nieman talks to Baratunde Thurston digital director at The Onion about adapting to social media. The method? Act like a real news organisation:
"The recent case where we did this pretty well was a story we had of a 500-foot Osama bin Laden returning from the sea to destroy America. And I was like OK, this is a Big Story. What does a Big Story deserve? Big coverage. You don’t just want to just put that out there; you spend weeks thinking about this stuff. Our graphics department — I’m sorry, our photojournalists — but our graphics department has done some impressive work to make this look super-realistic, so let’s give the story the big coverage it deserves. So in that case we are applying the lessons especially of the last event coverage in the breaking news to the alternate reality. So we start that story with a rumor: “BREAKING: Seismic activity detected in the Indian Ocean near site of bin Laden burial. More coming."
Which then went viral with people offering eye-witness accounts in much the same as we do when a real news event is happening, with the scary but likely prospect that someone, somewhere actually believes it is happening.  But then, as we know, life is but a dream.

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