How the internet changes journalism as we know it
The short article on limits of information gained from social media sites reminded me of a story I read recently about a Pennsylvania Common Pleas judge turning down a lawyer's request that a plaintiff in a car accident case be required to accept a “neutral friend request” on Facebook during the discovery phase. The defendant wanted to gain access to pictures posted on the plaintiff's page to ascertain the extent of her alleged injuries. The judge ruled that pictures were available elsewhere, but that's not the point – social media sites are becoming much more important in everyday life, and information posted on them will continue to have a growing impact on everyday life.
The media cannot and should not ignore information posted on social media sites. One of the many reasons I despise Twitter is that the media constantly report on tweets of famous, quasi-famous and regular folk on a daily basis. Why should I care that a mediocre football player tweeted something about current events? But the media do constantly cover tweets – and Facebook is next. My opinion? If you post it online – even on a “private” social media page – it's public.
Online journalism means not the death of quality journalism. Nevermind, retract that.
The emergence of fast-paced news publication on the internet has brought with it more mistakes. The disappearance of deadlines creates a much stronger competition among journalists to publish stories to the web first. Such fervent competition often paves the way for shoddy journalism – not checking sources, publishing hearsay, etc. This caused a stir as far back as 1998, and seems to be turning into the norm of tomorrow. We as journalists need to value quality journalism – no mistakes – over simply scooping everyone else. The trick is to find a way to give incentive to do just that.