Social media blurs some reporting lines

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Poynter Institute published an interesting blog by Steve Myers today with some helpful tips on how to still be a reporter in this digital age. His blog was called “6 Lessons for Journalists & Consumers in Statue of Liberty Tornado Photo,” addressing the hypothetical scenario that a tornado whirled by the Statue of Liberty in New York City, causing hundreds of eye witnesses to post tweets, blogs, and photos all over cyber space.

The main question addressed: Are cyber areas such as Twitter valid places to gather sources for journalistic pieces?

Here are his six tips on what every journalist should keep in mind if they find themselves in that scenario:

1) When presented with the incredible, apply some skepticism.

2) If we don’t apply a critical eye, our readers will.

3) Check your source.

4) In 140 characters, it’s hard to read between the lines.

5) Pack journalism isn’t the same as verification.

6) If you try to make something go viral, try just as hard to follow up with the cure.

All of these are great tips, and if you read his blog, they’re coupled with even more shocking stories about how top notch journalists and highly-regarded news sources all have been led astray by overly trusting what was once social media.

Remember, kids. Just because it’s online, doesn’t make it true. You would think journalists would already know that, but apparently it’s something we have to learn everyday.



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