Journalism in a Realtime World

Journalism in a Realtime World

Andrew Fitzgerald, Chris Anderson, and John Melloy discuss the role of social data in breaking news.

The morning’s presentations started with a discussion about how social media is truly transforming the face of journalism. In a world full of self-reporting eyewitnesses, social is often the source for breaking news well in advance of traditional media outlets. Chris Moody moderated a panel of guests from Stocktwits, Pixable and Twitter who’ve collectively worked at CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg. Theyl shared their unique perspectives on the current state of journalism and the role “citizens-as-reporters” play in it.

We heard how sources for breaking stories are often now found via social platforms, and sometimes those sources are even documented in court records as testimonial evidence. Major natural disasters are another area where social has played a major role, both in emergency alerting as well as first-hand reporting from those affected. The presidential elections in 2008 were one of the earliest places that saw the power and societal shift that comes with socially generated content. And on a lighter note, social has also given movie studios incredibly accurate predictions for box office reception thanks to early audience conversations. Can you say, “Sharknado, Part 2??”

The discussion then moved on to the actual content itself, and how videos and photos in social activities dramatically increase engagement and tell more of the story than text alone. The panel finally talked about how journalists need to be careful to monitor the validity (or lack thereof) behind news events shared via social media. Editorial judgement still plays a key role in reporting, and it is up to journalists to ensure that they are vetting their sources appropriately.

While each panelist shared a unique take on the role of social in journalism, they all held the common belief that it brings an undeniably positive and disruptive influence. The way in which we report and consume the news will never be the same again.

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