Twitter has ‘encouraged a particularly sloppy and indolent form of journalism’
Dominique Jackson (@deejackson) writing on the Mail Online picks up the social media and journalism debate and points out some of the bad habits she sees journalists engaging in as a result of Twitter.
The piece, ‘Twitter will play a significant and disproportionate role in the coverage of London 2012′ in part looks at what will be the world’s first ‘Social Olympics, from tweeting athletes and the stories that will emerge, but she also talks about the negative impact that Twitter has had regarding the way that the working practices of journalists have changed because of it.
While Jackson wonders whether we will see any Olympic Twitter storm whipped up around a “social media faux pas”, almost certainly, and is sure that many Mail Online readers “despise this emotionally incontinent, overly candid” nature of Twitter, what she says they can’t do is ignore it. Quite true.
Ignoring Twitter whether you are a reader or working in the media, entertainment or politics is no longer possible or even sensible. It is our real-time pulse. It demands to be checked.
It is, as Jackson rightly points out, where news big new breaks first. It was where we heard about the death of Osama bin Laden, giving Twitter its CNN moment, or hear the latest from the fighting in Syria. All pointing to ‘how social media is taking over the news industry’.
However, she aruges, she wishes that journalists would not rely quite so heavily on Twitter for reaction and because of she says the real story can be lost:
“Sadly, however, Twitter has also encouraged a particularly sloppy and indolent form of journalism. Reporters who once relied on a living, breathing network of genuine contacts have now resorted to a lazy trawl through the Twitter streams of their targets. Why bother with any kind of thorough journalistic investigation when the protagonists are putting the stories out themselves?
“The main problem with this new fashion for the reporting of infra dig gossip and inconsequential personal musings as if they were gospel is that, worryingly frequently, the real story is lost or buried beneath this digital dump of mindless chatter.
“Even the most respectable news organisations are now guilty of going straight to Twitter, reporting reaction or detailing individual tweets instead of getting to grips with the bones of the news story in question. What a pity. The myriad stories which the London Games are bound to generate, whether heroic, tragic, unfortunate or simply amusing, won’t actually be happening on the screen of your smart phone or laptop, filtered through the distorting prism of the social media spotlight, from the Mail Online.
There are no doubt some good points made by Jackson here. An over reliance on anything can lead to sloppy bad habits, but there is much good we get from Twitter as well.
Many stories emerge to reach a wider audience because of Twitter, and other social networks, and without it many of us would not get to hear these and we would be poorer for that.