Information and social media

Accessibility to internet has brought about radical changes in terms of information and communication. Due to these changes now it is so easy to get online.

Social networking sites like Twitter, Face Book, LinkedIn, foursquare, MySpace etc   bring more and more people online, especially the youngsters.  Twitter in particular is used by journalists as an outlet to release breaking news because it is not only instant but can also effectively reach to a huge number of audiences.

The development of mobile phones having access to internet has also contributed a lot to have up-to-date information, news or progress of events worldwide.

Social media in general is a positive development, especially for freelance journalists as it gives a huge range of possibilities in terms of getting work! It is very tough to step into this industry and when the only media outlets that existed were print publications, there were limited opportunities for young journalists. However, the emergence of online media has created more prospects for writers and journalists both.

Besides many advantages of social media its ethical aspect especially in context of journalism is very important.

The dangerous thing about it is somewhat lack of control. As there could be anyone create a website or a blog etc so there are a number of ethical issues that are raised, especially since the technological advances move at such a fast pace. Defamation is a huge ethical issue in online journalism. As anybody can write their opinions online and people have so much freedom to express, comment or respond instantly on the internet so it is easy to commit libel. For example, writing a defamatory statement about any individual or organization could be considered libel. However, the problem with the online journalism is where to draw a line?

Despite many advantages of social media in terms of the ability to reach out to a mass audience, the immense freedom people have online can also cause more damage than intended.

Iqbal Yousafzai

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7 Responses to Information and social media

  1. The concerns you raise about social media are interesting. Yes, social media does broaden the employment possibilities for journalists. It is a fantastic thing if it gives people the chance to comment and start conversation in a public domain. But I think that the dangers of social media which you raise may be more serious for a freelance journalist. Being alone in the international online community without the support of teams of legal advisors and professional researchers is an intimidating prospect. How do you test a story for its legitimacy? How do you back a story up when all you have to go on is a couple of tweets from the other side of the world? The opportunities are endless, but should we fear for the quality of journalism in the future?

  2. calummac6 says:

    That is a fair point about the huge breadth of social medai resources available to journalists. This page shows most of them in a pretty snazzy way.

    http://www.flowtown.com/blog/the-2010-social-networking-map?display=wide

    So before you even think about ethics, you’ve gotta find most useful source, which is changing all the time!

  3. My biggest fear about social media, in terms of journalism, is that we will all become very lazy journalists who rely on Twitter and other such places to find out stories and not actually go out into the ‘real’ world and find the stories, the old fashioned way, by actually speaking face to face with people.

    Its worrying as to what the future will hold for trainee journalists, like ourselves, only 10 years ago we had never heard of the words Twitter and Facebook, what will be around in another 10 years. Perhaps we may never need to leave the newsroom to get a story?

  4. Ruben Martínez says:

    Using twitter to gather news today helps journalists to find out news stories. The thing is that you may get scoops to work on, but not the whole story.

    Also it depends on the way we want to use social media. So far we have focused on gathering techniques and how useful social network sites are, but I see them in another way as well. They facilitate our interactivity with the audience and for instance, you can use them to ask your readers/listeners/viewers what they would like to ask to our interviewees.

    The main point here is that YOU as a journalist choose the way you use social media and whether you become a lazy journalist or not.

  5. Anne Gonschorek says:

    I agree with Ruben.

    It’s always up the journalist how they use social media. And, as we said during the presentation, most important is and always was accuracy.

    Social media give you so many chances to add to your work in a positive way. Be it communication and interaction with your audience, finding scoops and new angles that you might not have stumbled upon otherwise…

    At BBC Cornwall, presenters like Laurence Reed use tweets and facebook comments of their listeners and read them out on air to animate the discussion.

    Apart from the fact that this requires crazy multi-tasking skills, I find this way of interacting unbelievably up to date.

  6. Anne and Ruben, i do agree with you both about how effective social media can be in getting different and fresh news stories and angles. Yes, it is modern and in accordance with today’s world.

    However, I can’t help but also get nostaligic with Lucy. Ever since I began to want to be a journalist, which was years ago, I had that desire to invesitigate and meet people, that sense of really digging deep to uncover the truth to then tell the world for the greater good. Now, I am not sure that I even want to be a journalist as yes, you can still go out there and meet people to get different angles on the story, but ultimately we are looking on the internet for easy ways to find a story. It has become too easy. The news has become very much the same across all media platforms.

    Journalists have become lazy, but then at the same time they have to embrace social media to keep up with the world. It’s a tricky dilemma.

  7. Laura Makin-Isherwood says:

    Massive dilemma Becs! Though I’m not sure journalists have become lazy.

    The biggest issue I think social media has brought (and probably the one that influences most on what could be deemed to be laziness), is the speed at which information is transferred. You don’t have to wait for the telegram anymore – you can be reading something from Australia or South America in two seconds.

    This is probably why journalists now rely on social media so much. They have to be seen to be fast, getting the story out there as quick as possible. Sometimes (particularly online) this may only be a top line on a page with the bear bones…but if it’s breaking, it’s got to be up there. There’s not the time to get out of the office to see first hand what the deal is. By the time you get there, another broadcaster will have the story up and beaten you to it.

    It is really sad that it’s now a race…but we all consume it too. I know that if something breaks that I’m interested in I dive straight on google to see what I can find, and skip through news stories to see which site has the most information. I definitely wouldn’t sit around and wait for tomorrow’s paper!

    However, reporters do still get out in the field, and it’s rare that their trips will be unplanned ones (often their stories can be planned days if not weeks in advance). The real digging comes with investigative journalism…and that’s a whole other thing to uncover…social media in investigative journalism?

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