Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Truthiness": No Longer a Myth

Emily Willis


It’s been stressed again and again as the relative accessibility of online information increases. Self regulate what you post on social media sites. Don’t give out personal information. We’ve heard all of this and more, but the surprising fact remains that a number of people aren’t really sure what personal information the media can and cannot use. Come to think of it, neither is the media.

The legal system has predictably joined in the debate as an English High Court judge issued the first injunction banning the sharing of information on a case through Twitter and Facebook earlier this month.


However, Press Complaints Commission (PCC) former Chairman Sir Christopher Meyer has expressed that the “unprecedented scale” of personal information being shared on public domains has created serious repercussions for news outlets. The inherent challenge in deciding what can be considered public information as opposed to an invasion of privacy weighs heavy on this organization, as does its responsibility to inform the public of definite parameters regarding their privacy.

Still, despite this ambiguity, the general public still doesn’t seem to be taking a proactive approach to online information security. For instance, even though people have obviously expressed concern over the potential for information sharing, 90% of social media users in a recent survey have admitted to not reading a website’s privacy policy prior to using it. http://www.sileo.com/facebook-safety-social-media/

Who’s the Editor Here?

Another issue addressed is the fact that as asserted in Rem Rieder’s Jumping the Gun, even though Internet postings are “self correcting” in nature, a majority of the public does not look to correct major news outlets with the same discernment as say Wikipedia. The failure of news magnates such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times to competently research breaking stories fully before posting them online is a definite problem, and reveals yet another reason why consumers are wary of paying subscription fees for online news.


While online stories present the opportunity for extensive and immediate feedback from readers, it is evident that people still care more about the content produced by reporters, as evidenced by a 2008 study performed by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. A full 63% of respondents cited original reporting as the “most important information produced by online content.”

New mediums and media formats, while exciting and certainly helpful in relaying certain facets of news, seem to be in danger of eschewing core values held dear by proponents of journalistic integrity.

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