The increasing popularity of social media and the rise of citizen journalism is having an enormous impact on the way people receive the news.
Matthew Winkler, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, spoke to a group of journalism students at Southern Methodist University in Dallas Feb. 26 about the “Truth in the Age of Twitter.”
Winkler believes Twitter and other social media websites are having a negative impact on journalism.
“The value of journalism is diminished by technology that allows us to obtain information or misinformation by a keystroke,” Winkler said.
Winkler’s lecture pointed out just how important it is for journalists to sort through the massive amount of information trending on the Internet and discover the truth.
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” Winkler said.
Anybody with access to the Internet on a computer or smartphone can now play the role of a citizen journalist. Breaking news is reported within seconds via tweets and Facebook posts.
We no longer have to wait for the morning paper or nightly newscast to read or watch the news. With built-in cameras and video recorders in almost any cellphone, citizens can capture breaking news the moment it happens and publish the content online before news directors can send reporters to the scene.
While instantaneous news sites may sound innovative and appealing, they make the job of journalists much more challenging. In order to be successful in the new media age, Winkler believes journalists should abide by the five “F’s” of journalism: Be the first, final, fastest, most factual and future word.
Anybody can send out a news tweet or create a blog, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a journalist. As I mentioned earlier, the true value of a journalist is their responsibility to the truth. The fastest news tweet or first reporter on scene doesn’t matter if the information published or broadcast isn’t verified.