I can defiantly see how journalists can feel threatened by social media. When you think about it, anyone can be a journalist these days. Social media allows anyone to break news but is their news factual? Journalists need to employ tools to combat all of the noise on social media and hold the journalism “pledge”: report the facts.
I had never heard of geocodes before this week’s lecture and I have to say, they are so cool! Think of how many more sources journalists could if they used this tool. Better yet, think of how many sources they could check! With limited Twitter users enabling geocodes in their tweets I realize the limitations this tool presents. Hopefully more emphasis is placed on geocodes and it is utilized more in the future!
Another new concept presented in this week’s lecture: reverse search. The giant squid example proves just how important it is to check the validity of imagery on social media. I was unaware this was even possible. During the Boston Marathon bombing I saw so many images with extreme captions on social media. Seeing as this situation was a very extreme one the captions on these images seemed feasible. As more information came out the more I learned some of the images were just not true. When situations like these happen news outlets should take the time to investigate images so false reporting does not occur.
To answer the question posed in the lecture accuracy should be the most important priority for journalists. When news is breaking and journalists want to use social media to report it I think the best practices to still ensure accuracy are to use verified accounts and geocodes. Bottom line: if you can’t confirm a story don’t post about it. As our “Verifying Tweets When News Breaks” article states, it’s more important to get it right than to post it first. Trust is such a hard thing to gain with news viewers, why risk breaking it with a story that can’t be verified?
Sometimes mistakes happen…if a news organization accidently reports something that is not accurate I believe it is extremely important to address it, not delete it. Every once in a while when watching the news I will hear reporters correct themselves if they reported something that later proved to be incorrect. The same should be practiced on social media. Journalists should say sorry, report the correct facts, and post a link with a source verifying this information.
Bottom line: always verify and always be accurate.