Gaza, Ferguson, a casino elevator in New Jersey — this was the year that raw images and social media, not gatekeepers, drove the national conversation.
From photos posted on Twitter to bits of raw video shot on smartphones and surveillance cameras, media reached a tipping point this year in which the most important parts of the biggest stories came to us not in prepackaged formats of network and cable newscasts, front pages or even home pages, but in grainy, shocking bits and pieces of data. They often seemed to arrive out of nowhere to rip through our culture, leaving us agitated, polarized and often confused.
It didn't happen overnight or exactly on a 365-day calendar, but the media story of 2014 is the way changes in technology have led to a hyperdemocratization of news that might be more than we are prepared to handle as a society. It's certainly reached the point at which the journalistic profession can no longer reach any kind of consensus about standards for processing the flood of data.
But last month, Kirsten Salyer pointed out at Bloomberg that some of these videos are fake.
What happens when people manipulate truth to advance a good cause?
The BBC reported today that a viral video of a "Syrian hero boy" rescuing a little girl while bullets rain around them is a fake. The video was created in May by a group of Norwegian filmmakers who apparently hoped to generate awareness of children in conflict zones.
The video has been viewed more than 3.4 million times on YouTube and covered by news sites including the Daily Mail, the Independent,the Telegraph and the New York Daily News. It was filmed in Malta on the same set used by the makers of "Gladiator."
"If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope," Lars Klevberg, the film's director, told the BBC. He said he created the script for the film while watching news coverage of the Syrian conflict.
Another viral video -- "Drunk Girl in Public" -- this week showed men seemingly taking advantage of a drunk young woman on the street. It, too, was apparently a hoax.PolitiFact looks at 18 things the Internet got wrong in 2014.
But both social media and legacy media are vulnerable to hoaxes and mistakes: the UVA rape case, and the New York Magazine story about a teenage stock trader are just two epic fails.