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Think before you share (or thank God for real journalists)

20 Apr

This is a follow up to my oversharing post that got some interesting feedback.

I blog, I tweet, I sort of ‘report’ since I cover a variety of issues in a few venues. But the closet journalist in me always holds me back in the urge to just spew off stuff like “I am on a flight, the cabin doors are closing” (who cares?) and such.

Those who whip out their phones to generate content based on unverified facts, a.k.a. citizen journalists, sometimes get it wrong. Or often they only ‘report’ one fraction of the story. In some instances those fractions or slices are hugely valuable. Like the tweets and photos form the United Airlines splashdown last year.

But contrast that to this story, by Austin American Statesman journalist, Robert Quigley, who used Twittter to fact-check a story that the citizen journalists with itchy thumbs had got skewed. They had broken a story that a gunman in a local bar had taken people hostage. The gun and the hostage situation proved to be wrong.

once we confirmed what was actually happening, the rumors stopped flying …having a journalist who has access to the police and the habit of verifying information is valuable. It did turn out that the guy did not have a gun, and police now say he was never in danger of harming himself or others.

Wow!

Or from another point of view, thank God there still are some solid journalists –who happen to use social media– who know their job.

So the lesson to those wanna-be journalists, and information sharers: think before you type. You may be the only ‘reporter’ on the scene, but a string of words that help nobody, especially when unverified, amounts to dangerous oversharing.


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