My recent 15 hours of fame during the Eurotunnel debacle got me thinking about the nature of social media.
I am all about the democratization of the web. Always on the David side of any David & Goliath equation, I am delighted to see the little guy finally having his day. However, there is an inherent problem -- the tyranny of the formerly oppressed.
Say what you will, but the beauty of pokey traditional media was that there was a process in place, one that involved editing and fact checking, which meant that stories were presented without an editorial slant and containing verified facts. Now the most ill-informed rumor can spread like wildfire and even be picked up by traditional media, thus giving it an air of credibility and the status of truth. The citizen journalists -- us citizen journalists -- have no editor, no fact-checker, no filter.
I challenge us all to stick to these guidelines:
- Be responsible: fact-check.
- Be skeptical: are these trusted sources? Don't just report random crap from sites or people that you don't know (much harder now with the new re-tweet functionality on Twitter). Ask yourself: have you heard your information from more than one source?
- Be objective: yes, yes, the nature of social media is subjective, but a subjective opinion can be presented in an objective manner.
Try to uphold journalistic integrity, even if you're not pulling down a journalist's pay. Yes, Leila, I hear you laughing.