Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Internet and Journalism: Good or Bad?

Julianne Mobilian
jm544910@ohio.edu

Introduction
Social media is no doubt a game-changer in the fast-paced world of journalism and newspapers. Journalists can tweet news or share news on their blogs or Facebook in the blink of an eye for the whole world to read. Getting news fast is definitely a pro, but there's also the nagging con about this savvy new social trend: credibility. 

There are some instances in which the Internet hinders and helps the credibility of an individual, which will be reviewed further in this post by taking a look at a few examples.

The Good
In the “Is Facebook the Solution to the Obnoxious Comment Plague?” article written by Tim Ebner for the American Journalism Review, he applauded the decision of the Gannet Company’s new rule that if any reader wishes to comment on one of USA Today’s online stories, it will no longer be anonymous. Readers will now have to log in using their Facebook accounts, and their comments will be accredited to them. 

This is definitely a good thing, as people will have to own up to their beliefs and take responsibility for any backlash they might receive. The rule was put into effect mainly to rid ignorant comments that were posted just for the sake of being ignorant comments, which annoyed many readers. It will also, hopefully, put an end to any shameless hate and prejudice that many users use to attack other users when they post comments that don’t see eye-to-eye. 

It’s a great idea, and hopefully making people responsible for their comments will weed out the majority of time-wasting ignorant comments. In this case, the Internet makes fantastic use of credibility. Perhaps Gawker.com would think differently if they followed USA Today’s example, as can be read here

                                                      Image via Poynter.org


The Bad
On the flip side of the coin, there’s Steve Myer’s article for Poynter.com, “Altered Photo a Reminder of Issues with User-Generated Content,” which details how Internet usage undermines the credibility of the journalist. 

The incident involved a stock image photo, which was doctored and then posted onto a Flickr.com account under the pretense of being original work. The photo was selected into an “Awkward Tombstones” gallery for Tribune Interactive, but it was found to be photoshopped. 

Tribune Interactive, who was known for pulling unverified content from Flickr quite often, lost some credibility for the incident.  Even the original account owner who posted the photo was not allowed to do so, as the image was copyrighted and protected. 

The moral of the story is that journalists cannot trust Flickr as a source for photos—much less any other social media source. To do so would be to shirk their responsibilities as journalists for not actively seeking out and spreading stories of truth. This article explains the situation very well, and it urges journalists to be their own skeptic if faced with a similar situation. 

Conclusion
All in all, the Internet technology of the 21st Century is great, but it cannot come without a few drawbacks. Making every person credible with their sources can help ease such problems. Hopefully in time it will no longer be an issue, but for now the best we can do is to remain alert and skeptic to news seen on Twitter or other social media sites.

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