Week 6 Reading: We need to strike a balance on objectivity and accuracy on the blogosphere

Based on my previous post on how the Internet can become a good source of tip-offs for a reporter, this week’s reading on “Troll, Spin and Boundaries of Trust”, gives me the flip side of it. What if they are fabricated news? What if they are merely unethical marketing tools of a company or a slander? Hence, it reminds me once again that a journalist has to do her homework before falling into the trap of getting a scoop.

However, this is tough work for me alone. I would be stretched just verifying every single information that I get, especially if I have to go through tight gatekeepers in organizations (i.e. secretaries, PROs). Hence, using the online community to fact check each other is a self-correcting way of the Internet. Open conversation allows for collaborative scrutinizing of information on the community. I just read a post on UC Berkeley’s Crisis in News on the future of investigative reporting. Would it be more collaborative, with grassroots helping the team of reporters in their information search? This is so much easier and efficient with the Internet now as whistle blowers can provide insider information and yet maintain anonymity on the Internet. However, while the Internet is good in protecting one’s identity, how can the reporters trust the information if there is no solid identity backing it up? Once again, a balance needs to be stuck and conditions set on how collaborative investigative journalism in future should work. Perhaps have everyone registered under the investigative citizen journalism network, but allowed to use a nickname that cannot be changed. All registered information will be kept confidential. This way, information can be easily verified and credibility maintained.

Yet, in the age of the demise of the newspapers, many news organizations are fighting to attract readers on the newsstands. “We need breaking news story before the rival news companies get it!” If there is a tip-off from a source, would reporters share this information on the Internet and allow the whole world to see it? Not only are they risking getting their story stolen by rival newspapers, but also alerting the parties being investigated. How inclusive and exclusive can this network of investigative citizen journalism get?

And will groupthink make matters worse? What if everyone listens to an opinion leader and come up with information that points to the parties involved being guilty? I have always thought of groupthink as a double-edged sword to an online community, but after reading Coolican’s article, I realized that can happen among the journalism profession too. Hence, we need more of the online community to give us diverse opinions. Yet, how diverse are their opinions?

1) How can we resolve groupthink in the journalism profession?
2) How exclusive and inclusive can collaborative investigative journalism go?


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