Charity Hitt MMC 6660 Blog

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

Discussion Topic Proposal- Responsible Reporting in the Digital Age

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The advent of social media and its increasing influence on our society has led to the disruption of the traditional model of news and the way that it is disseminated to the public. This disruption has led to multiple issues in regards to responsible reporting, most prominently those regarding timeliness and accuracy of information.

In an industry with an “if you’re not first you’re last” mentality, and in and increasingly instantaneous society, being the first to break a news story is paramount.  As more and more users turn to websites such as Twitter and Facebook for their news, the real time function often decides the question of who got the scoop first? by a matter of seconds. In the age of smartphones and digital sharing of information, every citizen has the capability of being a reporter of breaking news; victims of a mass shooting can tweet news of their safety to followers, witnesses of a plane crash could be the first to upload photos to their Facebook.  These instances of news are coming directly from the public, and once they do, the race is on between media organizations to confirm the story and be the first to make the official “report” of the news.

Concerns over timeliness have the propensity to turn in to carelessness; racing to find a source that may not be accurate, or reporting before a source has even been confirmed, all in the name of being the first and therefore not the last. In recent news, self proclaimed ‘media manipulator’ Ryan Holiday duped several news outlets such as ABC, CBS and MSNBC into reporting manufactured information for several news stories.  In an effort to point out the inconsistencies in responsible practices of today’s press (and perhaps to promote his new book on media manipulation Trust Me, I’m Lying), Holiday posed as a credible source on the networking site HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a website that links reporters with “credible” sources of information on almost any subject. Here he claimed to be an expert in multiple fields, and offered false accounts of information to several reporters that were published in numerous mainstream publications. In an interview with Forbes Magazine about this hoax, Holiday stated, “As a journalist, it’s always been your job to do your research and check the source, whether you find that source on the street, on Craigslist or on HARO,” he says. “If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job however you find the source.” (Thier, 2012).

The reporter who interviewed Holiday, Dave Thier, understands how his colleagues could have been so easily duped, admitting to having used the site on occasion, saying “oftentimes, it can be hard to justify taking the long way around when news moves at the speed of the internet,” (Thier, 2012).

DQ: Are social media sites compounding the pressure on reporters to be first with breaking news, to the point that they sacrifice responsible reporting habits in order to do so?

________________________

Thier, Dave. (2012, July 18). How This Guy Lied His Way Into MSNBC, ABC News, The New York Times And More. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved September 8, 2012, From http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/
2012/07/18/how-this-guy-lied-his-way-into-msnbc-abc-news-the-new-york-times-and-more/

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Written by charityhitt

September 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

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