Thursday, April 28, 2011

Will diversifing sources help to diversify opinion?

Kate Sierzputowski

Journalists have a responsibility to report news that’s pertinent, informing, and fair to their audience. They also have a huge pressure on their shoulders from competing media outlets and their readership to make this news as unbiased as possible. When choosing quotes from the sources included in their stories, how should journalists make sure to live up to both standards?

Yumi Wilson's article in the Online Quill suggests that journalists often "ignore complex or politically charged aspects of a story, usually in the interest of space, clarity, and trying to appear neutral or objective in their reporting" (2). One of the solutions supplied by the writer is that journalists should seek out quotes and developing stories from Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to ensure more "accurate and honest reporting on the debate over racial identity" (2). Social media has taken businesses, journalism, and our minds by storm, and producing quotes from these new age sources is the next developing step in the journalism field.

A few television programs and news articles are already integrating Twitter quotes from the web, but an increasing number of more respected news organizations are also joining the trend. The Washington Post is one example, and as seen by this article outlining the protocols Washington Post writers must obey while writing posts on Twitter, there are still some kinks to work out when dealing with these forums. Another article on Read Write Web explains just how far Twitter has been integrated into our future careers, as the discovery of breaking stories, and interviews more frequently happen on this constantly developing forum.

Although using social media outlets would supply a more diverse and easily accessible pool for quotes and perspectives, wouldn’t it be subject to the same processes of selecting quotes that we use with story contacts in person? Online information is masked as easily accessible, but in reality may cause more sifting through quotes to find the ones that are most reliable. Yumi Wilson’s suggestion to include more online perspectives has a good basis, but can the sources we find through the web be as accurate as those in person? It is difficult to know the true identity of a person online, and a quote that comes from a seemingly trustworthy source may be someone with hidden agendas. I believe social networking sites are still risky places to pull sources, but with rapidly developing technological advancements it will continue to rise in legitimacy.

This video, "Mulatto Diaries #62" by "Biracial Tiffany," as mentioned in Wilson's article shows an opinionated source. Would you use her testimony in a related story?

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