1) What sorts of verification and accuracy standards are appropriate for material gathered on social networks?
With citizen journalism becoming a key part of news in a global community, it poses a risk of information and footage being untrue or skewing the reality of the story. A journalist must be cautious when approaching footage taken from online sources and make sure they check the facts before reporting them. This is important as Evenson (2008) states “the internet is a resource, not a source.”
As news outlets now have their own online profiles, it makes approaching users easier, should they need to contact them to use their footage. This was highlighted by David Turner (2012) who suggested that a person who is a genuine witness to an event is more than happy to talk. However, to avoid complications with copyright, a journalist must approach the user who uploaded the content and ask permission for use. This is normally an easy process over social media, for example, on Twitter.
Overall, using social media to gather information or stories is an effective and good source of news. However, journalists need to have complete verification of facts and avoid Photo-shopped images and untrue content. As long as accreditation is given where necessary and permission has been given to use online content, a journalist should make use of third party material.
Evensen, B., 2008. The responsible reporter: Journalism in the Information Age [online]. New York, USA: Peter Lang Publishing.
Turner, D., 2012. Verifying news on the social web: challenges and prospects. WWW ’13 Companion Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on World Wide Web [online], 875-878.
2) Does a journalist need to get permission from a member of the public who’s posted material on a social network before using that material? What other rights issues need to be considered?
BBC Guidelines state “although material, especially pictures and videos, on third party social media and other websites where the public have ready access may be considered to have been placed in the public domain, re-use by the BBC will usually bring it to a much wider audience.” This suggests that where online platforms are a good source of news and information, it is important that when sharing them on a larger scale, permission is given as it could lead to copyright issues.
This is supported through the arguments of Holmes et al (2014) who point out that should a journalist wish to ‘reproduce material from other sources you must check its copyright status before use and seek the necessary permissions’ He also signified the importance of having a written agreement for the usage permitted and over what period of time the news outlet can have it for. By having written consent from the user, it avoids and copyright infringements that could occur.
Should a source grant permission for their material to be used, the journalist should only use the material how the individual wishes it to be. Should the material be of a sensitive nature, the journalist must also take into consideration if the footage can cause harm to either the source or the public as a whole.
“BBC- Impartiality: Breadth And Diversity Of Opinion – Editorial Guidelines”. Bbc.co.uk. N.p., 2016. Web.
Holmes, T. et al., 2014. The 21st Century Journalism Handbook: Essential Skills for the Modern Journalist [online]. London, UK: Routledge.
3) Should a member of the public, who shares newsworthy material on social networks be credited by a journalist who uses that material?
Should someone publish newsworthy material on a social network and a journalist wishes to use their content, they should be credited. The original publisher of the material should get recognition for their work just as qualified journalists do, regardless if they are only citizen journalists. Goode (2009) considered citizen journalism as ‘real journalism’ and believed that credit should be given to these people.
It is important that journalists maintain a good relationship with their audience and therefore should credit their sources and avoid exploiting the work of others. However, while giving credit to these sources, the journalist should also point out in their report that the information came from an online source. By using online sources and adding to a story, Hermida (2015) argues that attribution is a “vital ingredient that adds to the credibility of a story” as through this the readers are provided with an aspect of accuracy.
In a world where the majority have a smart phone and access to the internet, citizen journalism is prevailing. It means that occurrences that may happen where a journalist isn’t present, a member of the public can capture the footage and report on it themselves. This aids the flow of news and helps the news organisations have access to more news stories to share on a bigger platform. Therefore, media organisations rely on the public to aid them with news stories and breaking news. Due to the help the public give the media, it is only fait that they are credited for the information they provide.
Hermida, A. Carlson, M. Lewis, S, 2015. Boundaries of journalism. Oxen: Routledge. p44
Goode, L., 2009. Social news, citizen journalism and democracy. New Media & Society, 11 (8), 1287–1305.