Evolving Journalism – Part II

There is a new trend in news reporting, and it is beginning to raise several questions about the validity of a reporter’s sources. With the growing popularity of online social networking, blogging and micro-blogging, reporters have begun using these terminals of information as hard sources for their news reports – even, at times, quoting the copy from an online source.

Is this a reliable and appropriate way to report the news? In my experiences, properly researched blog posts can be very informative, but what separates the credible from the not-so-credible? When reporters make statements like, “According to his Facebook status…”, or “Her Twitter profile suggests…”, are we to believe that all information from these sources have been proven true?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a discussion with Ellyn Angelotti, Interactivity Editor and Adjunct Faculty for the Poynter Institute. When the topic arose concerning the role of using the information found in social networks and blogs within news reporting, Ellyn had an interesting perspective. Rather than discredit these sources immediately, Ellyn suggests that reporters utilize these channels as a tool to find and then confirm facts versus fiction.

For instance, instead of taking a Facebook post or a Twitter update for what it is, if it relates to a story a reporter is working on, the reporter needs to make direct contact with the individual that allegedly made the post. In this way, the reporter can confirm the source directly, eliminating the element of possible misinformation in their story. Furthermore, they can then quote the actual source, providing the reader with a firmer sense of accuracy within the reporter’s piece.

I agree with Ellyn that this is currently the best way to utilize the power of social media while maintaining journalistic integrity within news reports. Until it can be proven that a web-based source is actually originating from whom it claims, reporters must go the extra yard and make direct contact to preserve reliability within their work.

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~ by dparsonsmedia on October 2, 2009.

One Response to “Evolving Journalism – Part II”

  1. Your journalism posts are interesting. Everyone has a different idea of how to define “journalist.” I think any professional communications people who do research that involves talking with people in addition to finding documents, who find objective factual data and weave it into a compelling, concise communication with clarity that is useful for another group of people, are committing acts of journalism. Sometimes they just don’t know it.

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