News in briefly


This week’s row about abuse on Twitter emphasised just how swiftly stuff comes and goes on transient media.

The ethos behind the old adage about today’s newspaper being tomorrow’s fish & chips wrapper works overtime with Twitter and Facebook posts.

Today’s mantra is keep moving and keep your news moving as well. This is, I’m certain, because for every interesting tweet, there are a million about what someone had for breakfast. It’s like a golfer keen to tell you what happened on the ninth hole; whoever was there saw it. No-one else is remotely interested.

And while the abuse sent to Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy via Twitter was frightful, that story is also effectively over.

I was writing a small piece about it yesterday and was particularly keen to learn more about the New York-based Twitter comms exec who blocked Caroline Criado-Perez, who was trying to get Twitter to take some action about the terrifying tweets she was receiving.

24 hours after the story broke, I couldn’t find his name. He was now non-newsworthy – which is, presumably, exactly what he wanted.

Those of us who work as journalists have always feared the concept of citizen-journalism. I think Twitter has become the best example of why we were, and remain, right to be concerned.

The art and skill of news-gathering is the ability to filter out as many lies and untruths as possible. The foundations of good news reporting are fact-checking and editing.

Citizen journalists, who are journalists in the same way that I am a doctor when I apply a sticky plaster to my daughter’s wounded knee, not only rarely check their facts but crucially are never edited.

All writers need editors, in the same way that aeroplane passengers need pilots; you might be the one making the journey – the pilot is the one who makes sure you get to your planned destination safely and on time.




“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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