Journalists eye validity of Twitter

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5120

Journalists eye validity of spreading rumors on Twitter

With the advent of new media and its extraordinarily quick rise to prominence, it’s understandable that eventually things would turn sour. Where is the line drawn on media such as Twitter, between what is unsubstantiated gossip and what is factual and newsworthy?

Felix Salmon, a contributor to Reuters claims, “I think that big flagship Twitter accounts like @Reuters or @WSJ should be held to a higher standard.” But for individual reporters, tweet away.

This lax attitude can lead to embarrassing mistakes such as what happened to NPR when they incorrectly tweeted that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died.

An important distinction needs to be made by all news organizations concerning the validity of Twitter as a means of reporting the news as quickly as possible—do we report information as fast as possible without totally confirming it? Or do we take a step back and check our facts like a responsible entity before tweeting…

The most important thing for a reporter to do is maintain their reliability. What is the point of following a news organization that reports the news incorrectly?

Rem Reider, editor of The American Journalism Review says, “What we need is a lot more reporting and a lot less guessing, whether on Twitter or anywhere else. If you haven’t checked it out, keep it to yourself – or tell your pals in an actual newsroom.”

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2 Comments on “Journalists eye validity of Twitter”

  1. dsulmers says:

    I love twitter as much as the next person but i agree with some of these comments. Twitter has a lot of rumors circulating and some people could find this “news” on Twitter and might get it wrong. I know that a lot of things are on Twitter that are not correct which could be a problem for a person like me who gets most of my news from updates on Twitter. Either way, I still think Twitter is a great way to get some information but not all valid information can be found on Twitter.

    DeeDee S.

  2. Keith Llado says:

    This is certainly a concerning topic for journalism in today’s modern era of reporting, as it should be. Though it does seem that the more journalists and media experts try to resolve the roll-confusion of the news media industry as it pertains to technological advances, the more “hairy” the whole topic seems to get.

    Journalists must realize that in the modern age of journalism, that we are no longer the gatekeepers of information–via the Internet, all information is eventually free. This, however, does mean that the roll of the contemporary journalist is obsolete; it’s simply evolved from gatekeepers to interpreters. As I argued in a previous post regarding Wikileaks, a journalist’s job is to evolve with the times and technology with the goal in mind to make the news understandable and relevant to its consumers.

    https://publicaffairsjournalism.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/wikileaks-and-media-partners-battle-over-release-of-u-s-documents/#comments

    Therefore, is it unreasonable to think that reporters should be held to the same standard of accuracy, fairness, and objectivity on social media sites as opposed to traditional news media? Most likely, all would argue that yes, the responsibilities remain the same.

    There is obviously a tug-of-war in the news industry between traditional news media being able to reach an audience and keep up with the rapid disclosure of new information, and still uphold the journalistic obligations of fairness and accuracy (qualities that are not always mutually inclusive with “civic journalism”).

    In the spirit of argument, if traditional news outlets had to make a compromise between accuracy and timeliness, I would submit that timeliness be sacrificed. While economic and business suicide might be the first words to spring to mind, remember that fairness and accuracy are the only things that distinguishes journalistic reporting and civic reporting in the modern age. The question that news outlets must ask of themselves now is, if news media and reporters are willing to sacrifice accuracy for timeliness, then what separates its news from John Doe, who spends his free time blogging about stories he read off Reuters and calls it “news?”


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