Things like the internet, social media and smart phones have given voice to anyone with access. That's part of the beauty of social media. It's also often a pitfall when it comes to "truth" For our viewers it begs the question "Who do you trust and where do you draw the line between "real journalism" and "citizen journalism?"
MinnPost Editor, Brian Lambert gives us his perspective on the issue.
Randy Meier: "Brian, a growing number of internet users admit to starting their day with their smart phone or tablet looking for information including facebook and twitter. Knowing that, has this changed "how" and "when" journalists "inform" it becomes a race to get "any" information out there. Is that doing the public a dis-service??
Brian Lambert: "Well the best line I heard about the whole twitter thing especially in relation to today's Boston development is that in the first hour or so of some big event, Twitter's invaluable-something happened..bing bing bing, these are the basics. After that the value of it starts to slide off as we get into the rumor, the speculation and a lot of, kind of, illegitimate voices getting into this conversation."
Randy Meier: "We had this debate in the newsroom today about what we're offering the public. We want to get early information to our viewers via twitter and facebook via other sources that we're gathering. The question is has it changed to the point where we have to present like that?
Brian Lambert: "I don't think you have any choice since it's a competitive business that your in or we're all in in a way to get to the basic story of what you know. the problem is when this stuff gets atomized. I mean you have a produced version that you've reported and that's presumably back here on the set or the place where you really want the people to go to see it the whole complete story as you know it.
Randy Meier: "At a certain time after we've had the time to vet it and all the things we like to do before it hits the air, it's always playing a dicey game when you have to spiel out these fragments just to stay ahead of the crowd. What is the role of the media today if you start factoring in the technology the speed and ease for which information can be disseminated be it by journalists or others. What is our role?"
Brian Lambert: "I don't know that it's changed that much I mean you still have the basic role of delivering factual true information. The events of today you know where CNN and others got themselves in such a twist was almost completely competitive in nature but the social media cycle has enhanced this competitive drive.
Randy Meier: "..And that came after the mistakes that the CNN's of the world made today because social media picked up on it and proliferated that information out. The mistake was made by you know the source issue or whatever it was and that's a different situation but you couldn't pull it back once it was out there either and you deal with this in your world every single day."
Brian Lambert: "You know pulling it back only starts to look embarrassing, I mean the clips that now live on in infamy of them trying to step back ..you know. "this source says this is not true..we're getting this from conflicting sources.." It should be a cautionary tale of course and unfortunately for CNN that's about the third time this year they've wandered into something like this. So their having kind of a bad run but everybody makes mistakes. There's going to have to be a bit more diligence paid to this matter."
Randy Meier: "..and I think we have to be in front of that as well."
About our Guest:
Brian Lambert writes MinnPost's Daily Glean. He is a longtime Twin Cities journalist. Lambert is a former media columnist for the Pioneer Press, former movie critic, former writer and blogger for The Rake and other publications, former rural Minnesota milk truck driver, former Senate advisor, former garden seed salesman and current talk radio host (FM 107.1).