What sorts of verification and accuracy standards are appropriate for material gathered on social networks?
With a greater deal of content entering the news room than ever before with the rise of trends such as citizen journalism, issues have risen such as the possibility of certain things entering the news room not being true. There is a belief that citizen journalism is “buffeted, and not to its benefit, by extreme, unsubstantiated assessments” (Chadha and Steiner, 2012). This can make it unreliable, and whilst there are many benefits to having news break quickly through the usage of functions such as social media, care must be undertaken when deciding to run with a story that may have been found by a source from online functions such as social media.
A simple way of looking to gauge whether content seen online is legitimate is by contacting the source. It may be possible to message them over social media and ask them questions about the situation that is being described. This is seen by many journalists as a good way of building connections with individuals who are at the scene of a potential breaking story, and this can therefore be an important tool for journalists to use in not only verifying the legitimacy of a source, but also looking to be able to keep up to date with potential updates that are occurring at the scene. It is believed that citizen journalism is a very important tool in journalism, and could have the potential to grow further. This could be done further through “collaboration” (Kurylo and Dumova, 2016), where the traditional news making processes collaborate with newer generation techniques such as citizen journalism in order to learn whether certain content is authentic.
Overall, it is clear that with social networks becoming a large source for news, media institutions must look to collaborate with social media platforms in order to keep with the times in the media. There are measures always to be taken in order to ensure the authenticity of news gained through social networks is legitimate, mainly through the usage of interaction.
Chadha, K. and Steiner, L., 2015. The Potential And Limitations Of Citizen Journalism Initiatives. Journalism Studies [online]. 16 (5), 706-718.
Kurylo, A. and Dumova, T., 2016. Social Networking: Redefining Communication in the Digital Age. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
Does a journalist need to get permission from a member of the public who’s posted material on a social network before using that material? What other rights issues need to be considered?
Many people within media institutions feel that if an individual is willing to share information with the rest of the world on a social network, it is therefore the media’s right to be able to report on content that has been put online. Belair Gagnon (2015) states there is a “tension in journalistic boundary maintenance in relation to social media.”This suggests that journalists are seen in a potentially negative manner when using content that has been gained from social media. Often journalists can be criticized for taking information from social media and placing it in stories without crediting the individual who has uploaded the photo to the internet.
In order for journalists to avoid this, a good practice may be to seek permission for certain types of material to be used. Often tweets that describe events that are going on in the world are directly quoted from journalists in their stories with accreditation to the individual who initially posted the tweet. This is also often seen when journalists use videos or photos that are taken from social media websites.Some individuals within the media industry would often encourage journalists to look to see if they have any sources that potentially have connections to the scene of a breaking news story before using content from social media due to how there is a perceived nature of amateurishness from the public often when news institutions resort to using information gained from social media platforms.
There are very complicated privacy rules on social media platforms that often allow for journalists to be able to use content from users, regardless of the users wishes to not have content they have uploaded be screened to a wider audience. There is a concern that when content is uploaded that is very newsworthy, there is a trend of “competitive journalism” (Thorsen, 2014). This is when journalists are looking to cover the content that has been uploaded by an individual in a very diverse way, and are therefore potentially making life difficult for the social media user when they could potentially feel that they do not want their content to be broadcast across the news.
It is clear that whilst journalists have a right to be able to use information gained on social networks, there is still a way to stay ethical about the process. It may be in the best interest of all parties to ask for permission, in order to build up a positive image for the media institution, as well as make life easier for the individual who has uploaded the content to social media that has been deemed newsworthy.
Thorsen, E., 2014. Online Reporting of Elections [online]. London: Routledge.
Belaire-Gagnon, V., 2015. Social Media at BBC News: The Re-Making of Crisis Reporting [online]. London: Routledge.
Should a member of the public, who shares newsworthy material on social networks be credited by a journalist who uses that material?
It is seen as good journalism and ethically correct often to credit members of the public when using their material for stories. This is seen especially when using imagery, often seen differently to discourse that has been published online by a social media user. Images posted online are often guarded by a sense of ownership from the individual who has taken the photo, and whilst this may not always be the case legally, it is good practice to ask the individual for permission to use the image in order to maintain a good image for the news institution.
Attribution is “regarded as a key element of journalistic practice that tells the reader or viewer how a news organization knows what it is reporting, and confirms that journalists are not simply giving their own version of events” (Harcup, 2014). This shows that attributing sources of material that is gained online is an important aspect of using citizen journalism as a tool in the modern day, due to how it maintains a sense of authenticity for a news organization. It can often be seen that if news institutions are not accrediting the individuals responsible with content that has been gained from social media, the news institution would be looking to exploit other peoples work. This would be seen potentially as unfair and would damage the credibility of any news institution and therefore makes asking permission to use social media content a very important thing to do for journalists.
It is claimed that often journalists have not shifted towards a trend of accrediting their social media sources and this is only seen in areas of journalism such as sport (Pedersen, 2013). It is clear that there is much more to be done in ensuring that news institutions look to accredit their sources for content that has been used within their stories. this could potentially be done through the usage of social networking websites adding more copyright restrictions to their users content, allowing the user more power in deciding whether news institutions are allowed to use their content.
Harcup, T., 2014. A Dictionary of Journalism [online]. Oxford: OUP Oxford.
Pedersen, P M., 2013. Routledge Handbook of Sport Communication [online]. London: Routledge.