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Social Media & Ethical Reporting: Who is Responsible?

Posted at Dec 21, 2012 10:57:08 AM by Nathan Mendenhall | Share

In years past, to get the latest breaking news stories you would have to be near a radio or television whenever your preferred news source was on. If you missed a story then you would have to rely on the hearsay of those who were able to catch the news. Today, nearly every news outlet has multiple social media channels that they can use to distribute content. Usually their posts have the preamble of “Breaking News” or “Update”, but what happens if they are so quick to report the news via social media that they leave out some details or get some important details of a story wrong? This could drastically impact the opinion of the public or influence their conversations. Due to social media, more hearsay information is passed from person to person now than ever. Should the media be held responsible for inaccurate tweets or misleading Facebook posts about a story?

Long gone are the days where journalists would have ample time to thoroughly investigate a story and accurately report the details of it. In a world of social media, it seems that everyone is obsessed with being first, not being accurate. Lately, it seems that there have been many instances where a very important breaking news story was rapidly pushed out on social channels while leaving out some important details. No matter what ideologies you may have, it is imperative for the public to have ALL of the important information when it comes to stories about shootings, politics, recalls, and international policy. Without this information it is impossible for anyone to create an informed opinion. This isn’t to say that everything should be an open book as there is a sense of privacy owed to those involved in the stories. However, the social media user has a short attention span. They will take in, digest and internalize the first “touch” of a story. If there are nuances left out, the entire event can be taken out of context. It could be very dangerous for thousands of people spread out of context information about a news story.

We all rely on news outlets for our information; however I personally feel that we can demand better from them. What is more important? Being first or being the best? I would much rather have tweet or post about a story a little after the fact with complete details than a story with conflicting details from a source that just wants the website traffic of being first. This is highly irresponsible, and in my personal opinion, unethical. Few if any social media users stick with a story from start to finish, so leaving out important preliminary details can sway public opinion immensely. I am not calling for a governing body for the media on social sites, I am simply asking for more complete, thorough reporting. How many times have you wanted to have meaningful discussion with someone about a current event, yet both of you have conflicting details? Conspiracy theories aside, there is no good reason for this. The first news source that publishes information in an unbiased, thorough and timely way should be held up over all others!
What do you think? Have you seen any news outlets rushing to get a story out on social sites without double checking their facts? Let me know in the comments section!

Tags: Social Media

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