Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Technology and News Reporting

Rachel Sinistro

Photo via Flickr of people protesting police brutality. Bystanders have been given the ability to capture footage of acts of police brutality through technology.

The rise of technology has given us the ability to see the truth in news reporting due to live streaming on social media. It is no longer just news reporters who have the power to reveal hard-hitting news to society. Almost everyone, nowadays, has a camera phone, which means just about anyone has the ability to capture a newsworthy moment. Before camera phones, we relied on photographers and journalists to capture news footage. These professionals oftentimes were restricted with what footage they could and could not release, which often times left the public in the dark when it came to very important and controversial issues within society.

Today, we are a lot less in the dark with some news topics thanks to technology. An example of this has been in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. Many videos taken on camera phones by bystanders have gone viral and brought about awareness of police brutality and the racism that is still very real in our society. Most people do not get to actually see these racist occurrences happening daily, which makes it very less real to them. However, video footage such as the footage of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man being held down and choked to death by a police officer, changes these racist acts from rumors to reality for many people. Videos like the one of Eric Garner are shocking and tragic, but they have opened people’s eyes to the truth and have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.


While technology can reveal truths to society, it can also create a mess of lies. The recent election has become a prime example of just how easy it is to fabricate stories and how it is even easier to get people to believe these stories. From my own experiences leading up to the election, I can recall hearing a new crazy story about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton almost everyday. Most people held very strong opinions towards the end of this election and that meant that they were going to believe any dirty thing about the opposing candidate that they heard, and they were probably going to spread the word to others. This caused an unending amount of false news stories to be spread and, unfortunately, another humiliating situation for journalists.

When hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs are getting a higher amount of views than major news websites, it is hard to figure out whom to blame. Do we blame the professional news outlets for not being trusted by the public? Do we blame technology for making all of these faulty news stories available to the public? Do we blame the public for believing everything they are reading and not fact checking their sources? It is really hard to choose who is to blame, but in my opinion it is a pretty equal balance of each one of these factors that is causing this mayhem.

Creating Balance

As journalists, it is our ethical duty to provide the truth to the public. All we can do to fight the spreading of false news is to continue to report the news in the most true and accurate ways possible. The SPJ Code of Ethics says, “Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.” I hope that with the help of everyday people who are capturing newsworthy footage for the journalists who cannot in those moments, that more truth and transparency is brought to the world. This transparency will hopefully lead us into fighting the issues that truly matter most. 

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