Why Are Journalists Publishing Before Checking Facts?

A new survey from Dutch company ING found that 45 percent of international journalists “publish as soon as possible and correct later,” while only 20 percent always do their due diligence before publishing.

Additionally, the 2014 Study Impact of Social Media on News report, created for PR professionals and journalists, reported that one-third of journalists don’t consider social media posts a reliable source of information. Still, 50 percent said the majority of their news tips and facts come from social.

But journalists don’t seem to mind questions of accuracy too much, since 60 percent said they feel less restricted by journalistic standards in their social media reporting. Twenty-two percent reported that they treat social media posts the same way as traditional methods when it comes to journalism ethics.

Finally, PR professionals, who once worked quite closely with journalists in setting up interviews and providing timely, accurate news items, say reporters aren’t as quick to get in touch with them. The assumption for this is that journalists are relying more frequently on social media info, despite their low levels of trust with the medium.

ING projects that crowdsourced journalism has become the norm and will continue to permeate mainstream reporting. Though news sites like CNN (iReport) and local TV stations now consider user-generated content their bread and butter, particularly during weather events and breaking news, it’s clear that journalism created (partially) by the crowd can get complicated.

The question is, how do we deal? This global poll shows that the capability journalists have to directly engage their audience and work with citizen journalists may be very convenient and timely, but we don’t have a handle on how specifically to filter that information and aggregate only the best, most accurate stuff.

There is a working group associated with the Online News Association that has outlined the main challenges of social newsgathering, and they hope to come up with some industry solutions in doing this well.

In the meantime, we have an ethics/culture problem in the newsroom if the number of people checking facts before clicking “Publish” isn’t 100 percent. What gives?

Recommended articles