Technology is perhaps the buzzword of modern day journalism. With technical advances improving by the year, news agencies and other journalistic work-forces are gaining access to new forms of technology. As quickly as one comes around, it seemingly appears to be mastered, a result of each media agency wishing to be ‘ahead of the game’ in this competitive industry of ours.
One of the biggest breakthroughs – perhaps even the biggest – in journalism in the past decade has been the creation of Twitter. The social media platform has revolutionised the world of journalism, with updates able to go out to the world in the blink of an eye. Long gone are the days where we wait for the 6 o’clock news or the next day’s paper for our news updates, as those for a thirst for journalism can access it with the click of a button on Twitter.
There are certainly positives to this, with news able to be consumed by the public with ease, but there is no doubt that Twitter presents problems and at times threatens to harm the state of journalism.
The temptation for journalists now in the ‘Twitter-sphere” is to be the first one on the scene, ie. the first to tweet news out. It is so easy to tweet out a message to the world in under 144 characters that sometimes the truth can be somewhat compromised, with journalists ‘jumping the gun’ without properly fact-checking. The potential recognition and accolades for the journalist who gets the information out there first can sometimes entice them to tweet something without considering ethical concerns or without retrieving adequate sourcing for their information.
Natural disasters are one thing where Twitter has proved to be a success for. The New York Time’s Brian Stelter used Twitter to report on the 2011 Joplin tornado in Missouri, sending tweets out on his iPhone as he was unable to receive good internet reception. This way of reaching the audience of concerned and interested viewers was a very effective for his and his publications standing, getting a lot of traction across Twitter.
Twitter can also cause journalists to tweet often to remain relevant in the public eye with opinions and attempted humour. Herald Sun Chief Sports Writer Mark Robinson got it horribly wrong when he responded to a news tweet about Alex Fasolo training, after he had admitted publicly to dealing with depression. He tweeted “Good drugs – clinical depression Tuesday, training Thursday”, illustrating his ignorance on the issue of mental illness.