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April 29, 2017

Interview, E-Content

Interview, E-Content
By Michelle Cramer
April, 2013

Trends in Social News

1. Watching the news industry from a number of vantage points, what changes and trends have you seen in news acquisition over the years? That is, how does the approach for obtaining the latest news to write about compare between then and now?

Basically, it is the toolset that’s changed dramatically. Consider an early –Twentieth doctor, and the meager tools of a diagnosis he had at his hands, in his traveling black bag. The journalistic equivalent is the pencil and pad. Now, the physician, with a bag of diagnostic tricks – including genomic – is joined by the journalist. She’s got the Internet – an ever-changing encyclopedia of information, leads, data and more, 24/7. Crowdsourcing, through Twitter. Even basic email to get info at all hours of the day and night, from sources worldwide.

2. Have you seen an emerging trend in utilizing social media as a source for breaking news among editors and journalists? What are your thoughts? What social media sites are the most reliable (if there is such a thing where that is concerned)?

Certainly, Twitter is a great journalistic tool and is well used: for sources, ideas, twists, sentiments and more. LinkedIn taps into sources that are otherwise harder to obtain. Facebook is less a specific tool than a source of discovery for stories. Reliability is only important if a journalist would take whatever they find there at face value – something a journalist should seldom do with any source. It’s a lead source, and should treated (tweeted?) that way.

3. If a journalist/reporter/editor sees “breaking news” in his Twitter feed and decides to run with it, should he quantify the information with research and sources, or is there room for “unsubstantiated” news? What factors would make an unsubstantiated tweet worth writing about?

Absolutely. Journalism is about being a conduit; it’s about passing on accurate news. First, we must get it right.

4. Along those same lines, what guidelines, if any, would you recommend in order to maintain journalistic integrity when it comes to using social media as a source for breaking news?

The foundation remains the same: get it right and make it understandable to your audience. Newsrooms require deep ongoing conversations, involving all, about how to manage everything in the new evolving toolsets, so that they work in service to that foundation and don’t, unintentionally, undermine it.