Itís vital to be able to trust the news, but in today's world of fragmented journalism augmented with a healthy dose of citizen journalism, misinformation is running rampant. Perhaps more disturbing is the perception that people donít care if a viral news story is accurate or not, according to a recent post at the (ironically) recently-shuttered Gigaom.com.

Are news organizations spending more time and resources on propagating ďhotĒ news stories in lieu of verification, as the post suggests? Is it more important for cash-strapped media companies to engage their audience at any level, no matter the consequence?

The post cited the rise of social media and the 24-hour news cycle as drivers of this disturbing trend. Filling the void in reporting with citizen reporting and rumor propagation seems to be the answer to a publicís growing insatiable demand for information.

It doesnít help that the more erroneous reports are the ones that seem to take legs and go viral. It appears that the more ridiculous or incredible the report (and thus more likely to be false) the more emotion it raises and the more popular it becomes.

Ultimately, the roles of trusted journalism have become blurred. The role of arbiter of truth is shifting from the media to the general population. In other words, reader beware.