The world of journalism is an interesting place, filled with bloggers, online citizen reporters, and social media know it alls. Coincidently, professional journalists are being forced to jiven up their material even when it is not in the best interest of the story.
In the way that our society is connected through social media, there are benefits, but there are also many consequences that are and may forever effect the world of reporting.
For example, a website called nationalreport.net created havoc when they posted a falsified story about President Obama using his own money to open a muslim museum during the government shutdown. The story was shared about 150,000 times across social media platforms and spread like wildfire.
Fox reported the news story because it had gone viral on social media. Only to later realize that it was a falsified report written by Paul Horner, a man who says on his Facebook page that he “wanted it to sound as real as possible and f*ck with as many people in the world that have an internet connection.”
With people like that scouring through the internet to create conflict by writing stories to rile people up, there is a need for gatekeepers in journalism that will decipher professional stories from the fictional.
However, some viewers understandably want to use the internet for immediate news and do not wish to wait for a gatekeeper to decipher what is real.
Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media, gives three rules on understanding credible news websites and avoiding these conflicts:
First, outsiders of all kind can probe more deeply into newsmakers’ businesses and affairs. They can desseminate what they learn more widely and more quickly. And it’s never been easier to organize like-minded people to support, or denounce, a person or cause. The communications-enabled grassroots is a formidable truth squad.
Second, insiders are part of the conversation. Information no longer leaks. It gushes, through firewalls and other barrier, via instant messages, e-mails, and phone calls.
Third, what gushes forth can take on a life of it’s own, even if it’s not true.