Has Facebook changed the rules of journalism?

I recently appeared on the TV show Beat the Press to discuss the brave new world of reporting in a totally networked world (bah-dum-dum-ching!)

Here’s me talking about the various ways reporters use social networking sites like Facebook:

I’m curious to know your thoughts on this subject, dear readers. What do you think: has Facebook really changed anything?

Emily Sweeney is a staff reporter at The Boston Globe. You can follow her on Twitter (@emilysweeney) and find her on Facebook, among other places.



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  • I agree, Facebook presents new challenges in how we as journalists source and research a tragic story. I know I feel a pit in my stomach anytime I have to cover tragedy and interview people going through a horrible situation. My rule would be to have extreme empathy for those loved ones and treat them as I would want to be treated. Ask questions on Facebook carefully and use private means to contact people and question them directly. Posting on the Facebook Wall seems inappropriate to me. Use Facebook and Twitter to connect with people, the interview and question by email or phone. Thanks for posting this Emily and great job articulating the right approach!

  • The panel seems confused about how Facebook actually works. A reporter who isn’t a Facebook “friend” of the deceased or the source cannot just write on the person’s wall asking “so, are you dead?”

    I think that FB has been a fantastic resource when it comes to learning about the dead in a way that we might not have been able to otherwise. In the past, it was just a police report about a random fatal crash. Now, we can tell the stories of the victims in valuable way because we can quickly find their friends.

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