The Internet Age in Journalism

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Journalists have to know how to use the internet if they're going to be successful today. But when they start relying on the internet for all their facts, things get messy. So when is the internet useful, and when is it harmful to your story?

Catherine Wylie, a journalist in training and writer for The Graduate Times, talking about the importance of being internet savvy as a journalist. For much of her life she was internet-phobic, but now is an avid blogger and Twitter member. As a journalist, the internet is an easy way to publish work for the masses and find information. But the information found is not always reliable.

So how can you make sure your information is reliable?

First, stay away from Wikipedia facts. As the story of Shane Fitzgerald, a college student who posted false quotes by French Composer Maurice Jarre who had recently passed away, shows us, Wikipedia isn't reliable since it can be edited by anyone. If you insist on using Wikipedia, you should check out the sources at the bottom. These may be much more reliable and contain much of the information found on Wikipedia.

Second, just because it's everywhere on the internet, doesn't mean it's true. Tweets from the Arizona shooting of Gabrielle Giffords claimed the congresswoman was dead. News channels picked up on these tweets and other reports of her death and reported it across the nation. Soon it was confirmed that the Congresswoman was actually alive and in surgery at an Arizona hospital, even though it was widely reported across the internet an TV.

Last, don't use the internet as your only source. Sure, it has a lot of good information, but the internet shouldn't be the only source of information you ever use. Interviews, newspaper, TV shows and many other things can have a positive impact on the story you're writing and add depth you wouldn't have gained from using the internet alone.

The internet is an important tool in journalism if you use it correctly. The internet can help you get your work out there and amass fans and hopefully a job that pays well. But if you use it incorrectly and report false facts, it can also ruin your career. Use the internet wisely and you can save yourself from many mistakes.

Photo Credit: Jcarranzz, WikiMedia via Creative Commons. Sérgio Savaman Savarese, Flickr via Creative Commons.


Morgan Fleener January 29, 2011 at 8:11 PM  
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Charlie Sandvick January 31, 2011 at 6:33 PM  

Like we talked about in class, Wikipedia can contain just as reliable facts as any other source out there, but then again it can also have made up facts edited by anyone. I don't think people should strictly just use one source or another, especially in this case. It's always good to check your facts, and when you've done that, do it one more time to make sure.

Morgan Fleener January 31, 2011 at 8:23 PM  
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Morgan Fleener January 31, 2011 at 8:23 PM  

Internet can be a very useful, but dangerous tool when reporting information. I can't imagine thinking my spouse was dead, when in reality wasn't. The emotions Gabrielle Gifford's husband felt had to be twisted up.
I also wonder why should everyone get publishing rights on Wikipedia? How do we know what facts will make us appear like intelligent journalists when presenting our work?

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