Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category


Twitter’s growth poses questions for journalism

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will spend 2016 trying to figure out how to ensure user growth for the social network. (Photo: Brian Solis/Wikimedia Commons CC)

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will spend 2016 trying to figure out how to ensure user growth for the social network, which could change how journalists and news organizations use the site. (Photo: Brian Solis/Wikimedia Commons CC)

Three weeks from now, we will inaugurate a brand new year — a year where the citizens of the United States go to the polls to determine their country’s future, where the intersection of social media and journalism will continue to grow, and where questions will continue to face a certain social network as to its future.

That social network is Twitter. It will celebrate its tenth birthday in 2016, and as that occasion is marked, there are a number of questions its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, is facing from investors. Yet, the most notable one has implications for the journalism community — how do you solve the issue of reversing user declines?

As Twitter began to take off, it was clear the social network could have potential in changing how journalists and news organizations work. A replica of a wire service, Twitter would be the hub of all global events, from the protests in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring, elections in the US and internationally, and the events in Ferguson, Missouri, to plenty of sports matches and awards ceremonies.

Dispatches in the form of 140 character messages would inform and enlighten millions of people of the events around them, and news organizations saw potential in aiding storytelling, whether disseminating information to new audiences, gathering sources for reporting or engaging in discussions. It was clear to the media industry that Twitter was here to stay, even as it enhanced its own business.

When the social network released its third quarter earnings, the problem of user growth was still prominent, something Dorsey and his predecessor, Dick Costolo, had to tackle.

This year, immediately after Dorsey became CEO, it unveiled Twitter Moments, known for a long time as Project Lightning, in an attempt to help news organizations with coverage, and, as Aly Keves of The Daily Dot web site said in an interview for this blog in October, paint a bigger picture as to why a particular event is trending.

However, there are still questions as to whether it can still be successful for Dorsey’s strategy, and it is unclear thus far of the wider implications Moments has had on individual newsrooms.

Twitter is also said to be testing timelines similar to that of Facebook, where instead of the live stream that has been at its core for a decade, posts would be appearing in non-chronological order. While it is uncertain if the feature is to remain, should this feature remain a part of the social network, it could mean implications on how journalists and news organizations use the service.

As we prepare to ring out the old year and bring in the new, the question of user growth will still be a constant for Dorsey and his colleagues, as they try to figure out Twitter’s role in the whole of social media. Yet, at the same time, whatever ideas that come forward may change the relationship the social network has with journalism, for better or for worse.

Let us hope Dorsey solves the issue, making investors and users happy. Otherwise, news organizations may need to bring another new item into the new year — a new social strategy.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Journalists, audiences and credibility on Twitter

Social media has evolved the news process, but Twitter has been shown to increase credibility. (Image: Pixabay/CC)

Social media has evolved the news process, but Twitter has been shown to increase credibility. (Image: Pixabay/CC)

Modern journalism has without a question been revolutionized by Twitter. A replica of a wire service, the social network allows users to keep up with the events of the world, and new ways for journalists and news organizations to tell those stories. Over the course of its near ten year existence, the social network’s presence has allowed journalists and news organizations to inform and engage with audiences in ways previously unimaginable.

New research has showcased the social network’s value in journalism. Researchers from Hope College and Lehigh University have shown that interaction with users by journalists can increase credibility and are rated more positively by users compared to those that use the social network to provide news and information.

So what does this say about how journalists approach Twitter? Anne Mostue, an anchor and reporter with Bloomberg Radio in Boston, in a telephone interview, said most journalists are aware of the study and the role interaction has, but says its down to time, balancing personal and professional matters, as well as attitudes about Twitter.

“Most people who choose to interact with journalists on social media are looking to get to know them in some way,” Mostue said. “In my experience, people don’t know how to get in touch with someone on the radio. Twitter is a great way to give me feedback.”

Mostue joined Twitter a couple of years ago after joining public media station WGBH, at the encouragement of the station’s social media director. Mostue says she was attracted to Twitter for the ability to enhance public knowledge and contribute to discussions while saying little about things going on outside of her work.

However, Mostue says, journalists have to be careful on what they tweet, as Twitter has had an effect on audiences’ views of journalists. Mostue adds that when there is so much breaking news, users should not be distracted about events in one’s personal life.

“I don’t want to distract people with superficial information about my life,” Mostue said. “I have to be careful not to give too much of my personal opinion with the news I’m tweeting about. I hope what I tweet is useful or intelligent. It can be a very social platform, but it is more of a news platform than a social platform.”

Ultimately, Mostue says Twitter is another way to give audiences accurate content.

“For some its a time issue, they choose Facebook or Twitter, or don’t enjoy Twitter as much,” Mostue said. “But everyone knows that ideally as a journalist you’re thought of as a person who is approachable and giving you accurate content, and people appreciate your efforts to engage with them and give them relevant information every day.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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The importance of verifying in breaking news

When reporting on stories on platforms like Twitter, accuracy is important. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

When reporting on stories on platforms like Twitter, accuracy is important. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter, in its nearly 10 year existence, has become ubiquitous with live events. It allows users to keep up with friends, family, and especially the media when it comes to life here and now. It has also become quintessential when it comes to breaking news, including covering the shootings Wednesday at a social services center in San Bernardino, a suburb of Los Angeles.

As the story broke, Twitter became a way for dissemination of information by news organizations, as well as an attempt to aid reporting for other platforms. As journalists looked for witnesses to the attacks, one Twitter user, who gave the name Marie Christmas on the platform. It later emerged that the user had fabricated information and had not witnessed the attacks, as my SPJ colleague, Ethics Committee chair Andrew Seaman noted on the Code Words blog earlier today.

Those who reported her remarks and had broadcast interviews with this individual had fallen for the error, as Steve Buttry of Louisiana State University noted in his blog, and there are still some questions, especially how the user got onto CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and how she was vetted. Buttry inquired to CNN about the subject, and a message left with a CNN spokesperson in Los Angeles was not immediately returned.

The story served as a reminder of the importance of verification and accuracy. Andie Adams, a digital producer at NBC San Diego (who also oversees communications for SPJ’s Generation J community), said they worked with their colleagues at KNBC in Los Angeles on the social media coverage of the story. Yet, when looking at a breaking news story, that solid source is important.

“We try to hold back, especially on numbers, so we’d like to get a solid source for a most accurate count before reporting,” Adams said in a telephone interview. “We don’t want to cause undue alarm.”

Adams says that accuracy is the big thing in reporting, and that journalists should be careful about false information.

“False information gets retweeted over and over again and you need to be careful where that information is coming from,” Adams said. “Check your sources. Make sure the information you get is true.”

As the story unfolded, Twitter and other social media platforms were filled with information on the incident, and the social networks are developing new platforms and tools when it comes to reporting live events. Adams says while the new tools are helpful, the ethics are still crucial, even as you report for platforms beyond social media.

“Accuracy is paramount no matter what platform you’re using,” Adams said. “You can do so many things. If you focus on the tech, you could lose the ethics of the journalism part. You forget to do your main job. You need to keep those ethics in place. Value is important.”

Ultimately, the essence of the 5 main journalism questions, who, what, when, where, why and how, still are essential, and Adams says you need to ask what the most important information should be in breaking stories, and what the consequences are for sharing that.

“You can’t speculate,” Adams said. “You need to watch for it in the digital age.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and blogger for SPJ’s blog network, with a focus on social media trends in journalism as well as British media. Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication based in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

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Facebook and the second screen experience

Facebook is trying to create a unique second screen experience, and hopes its partnership with CNN can aid it. (Photo: Pixabay)

Facebook is trying to create a unique second screen experience, and hopes its partnership with CNN can give it a huge boost. (Photo: Pixabay)

Editor’s note: This post was amended at 2:09pm CT to reflect updated information on CNN and Facebook’s partnership on the debates.

Tonight, CNN and Facebook are to host the first presidential debate between the Democratic candidates. While political observers wonder what exchanges will be made between front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, some eyes are on Facebook, and if it can truly create a true second screen experience in the face of social competition?

CNN will be using Facebook Mentions to stream the debate from its Facebook page, the first page to use Mentions to stream video, according to a report from Mashable. CNN, at the time of this posting, has nearly 19 million likes on its page. It was originally available to public figures who had been verified by the site.

The question of second screen arises as Facebook was ranked as the second most viewed source for political news for the baby boomer generation, in research earlier this year by the Pew Research Center. The social network was ranked the top viewed source for political news for millennials according to additional research.

When it comes to debates and major events, many types of social media outlets become second screen experiences. With this partnership, Facebook is attempting to be the provider of the most unique of those experiences.

In an interview with Mashable, Andrew Morse, CNN’s Executive Vice President of Editorial, said events like debates have become instant social events, and the ability to have a seamless experience was crucial.

“To be able to have that ‘second screen’ that is not a prosthetic limb, [that is] seamlessly flowing between TV and happening on Facebook — it’s a really neat concept,” Morse said. “It’s a really elegant dance in certain ways.”

Facebook does however have some competition on that dance floor, most notably with Twitter and Snapchat. Last week, Twitter introduced Moments, the feature that had been known by many as Project Lightning, which is likely too to play a social curating role with tonight’s debate.

Snapchat is also trying to find a footing, as it planned to hire journalists to document the campaign through snaps, in addition to its Discover channel, of which CNN is a content provider. Its head of news, Peter Hamby, who the social network hired earlier this year, was a correspondent for the cable channel in its Washington bureau.

It is unclear how many debates CNN is partnering with Facebook on. Facebook and CNN have an exclusive partnership on the debates for the rest of the primary season, according to a Facebook spokesperson SPJ reached by telephone.

Yet, no matter the results of tonight’s debate, a two-fold question emerges, which social network can provide the best second screen experience, and how can news organizations respond to it? Ultimately, that answer will come not from pollsters, pundits or the public in the series of primaries and elections that will follow, but from the social networks themselves, and the direction they will take to create an experience for its users that will be unique from all the rest.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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What Project Lightning means for journalism

Twitter today unveiled the item that has been known for months simply as Project Lightning.

Moments was introduced on desktop, Android and iPhone versions in the US. These include pieces from news organizations including BuzzFeed and the Washington Post.

For example, BuzzFeed today did a Moment about McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast Menu, while the Post did a Moment on the migrant crisis across Europe. These posts are available to be embedded into any piece.

Twitter also said it plans to publicly debut Moments during the baseball Wild Card game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees.

Moments is one of the items that journalists and news organizations have been anticipating since rumors surfaced on it earlier this year. In a telephone interview, Jennifer Wilson, the social media editor of the Toronto Star newspaper in Canada, said Moments plays well on what Twitter excels at — visual features.

“Visual items will usually outperform text,” Wilson said, adding that there are examples of that being taken to create a collection. The ability to embed posts is an added bonus when looking for video, Wilson adds, as it saves the issue of sourcing.

Moments also has the opportunity to solve the issue that new CEO Jack Dorsey and executives have been trying to resolve — the issue of lack of user growth. In a telephone interview,  Aly Keves, the real-time social editor at the Daily Dot web site in New York, says its good that Twitter is utilizing resources for this and is a step forward for re-engagement.

“This will be a great way for people to rediscover Twitter,” Keves said. “It will help users figure out who to follow and what accounts they should be looking at. It can bridge the gap. The new Moments feature will allow the Twitter community to be more engaged with media communities and vice versa.”

Keves adds that Moments can help paint a bigger picture on why an event is trending, providing a better sense of what is going on real-time. For news organizations, Keves says this is exciting for them because they’ll be able to see not just their own content, but what is trending and how competitors are approaching the subject, which could help shape coverage.

“I can get a better sense of what is happening, why its happening, and what the audience is,” Keves said. “It will help me figure out where our audience is, what they’re talking about or anxious about, and what’s happening out there.”

While its only available in full form in the US, moment URLs are accessible globally, and Twitter says that it is looking to get the full feature rolled out to other countries in the weeks and months ahead.

Ultimately, Wilson says, Moments is another unique way to tell stories and another opportunity to engage and retain audiences. She adds that a next step for Twitter could be a way to engage with live broadcasts, something that can help media organizations.

“Everyone is looking for new tools to tell better stories,” Wilson said. “Its neat and exciting.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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New questions for a new Twitter product

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

A report emerged today that Twitter is to expand its 140 character limit, by way of a new product. According to a report from the tech news site Recode, the product would allow long form content to be published to the social network.

Twitter hasn’t unveiled any plans officially, but multiple sources with the social network told Recode that the product has the support of interim CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey and his team have been trying to fix user growth issues that were at the helm of its recent quarterly earnings. Twitter celebrates its tenth birthday next year, so if the network confirms that this product is going ahead, it may pay off in the long run for its investors and users.

For the media industry however, the news of this product presents a two-fold scenario – first, it is likely to set to compete with Facebook which has more characters to work with as well as the ability to publish long form content through Instant Articles. This may put more users off Facebook and may send more to content journalists and news organizations are promoting on Twitter.

The second is the issue of audience engagement and journalism on Twitter. With this product becoming available, there will likely be opportunities to do more when it comes to breaking news in addition to other pieces. Journalists can experiment more with Twitter and help create elements of a story that can be fresh and inviting, that allow their coverage of a particular beat or event to be distinct.

This news also comes ahead of the launch of Project Lightning, currently likely to be at the end of the year, so this may lead to new ways into how news organizations can retain and attract users of the social network.

Although very little is known about the product, it is likely to warrant a significant evaluation of a newsroom’s social strategy, and may put Twitter above other social networks. If this does indeed go ahead, it will signal not just a win for Twitter on its user growth problems, but for news organizations too, not just for content, but for engaging new audiences.

For now, however, we must wait, and see what’s in store. Perhaps, the new year may present new ideas for newsrooms, and another unique chapter in Twitter’s relationship with the journalism community.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Your thoughts on Twitter’s next 10 years

Twitter will turn 10 next March. I'd like to hear from you about its future for journalists. (Image: Flickr user Anthony Quintano under CC)

Twitter will turn 10 next March. I’d like to hear from you about its future for journalists. (Image: Flickr user Anthony Quintano under CC)

This post was updated on September 8, 2015 to reflect a modified research line of inquiry.

Next March, Twitter will celebrate its tenth birthday – a significant occasion for the social network known for its influence on the modern culture of journalism. To mark that occasion, I am researching a piece for an upcoming issue of the Society’s magazine, Quill, marking the forthcoming event, and its influence.

Yet, alongside that, as part of my research, I’m hoping to ask a bigger question – what do you, the journalist, see Twitter when it comes to telling a story? Ultimately, how has the social network influenced how your story comes together?

If you’re a journalist and regularly use Twitter as part of your newsgathering work, or if you oversee social media efforts for your newsroom, I’d like to hear from you. I’m hoping to incorporate the views of SPJ members as well as other industry voices.

Please email me your thoughts – you can reach me at alex.veeneman01[AT]gmail dot com (its written that way to reduce the amount of spam I receive). In addition, if you’re comfortable with me publishing your thoughts on Twitter journalism, please indicate so in your email. I may contact you for a follow up interview. Remember, items may be edited for publication.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important subject.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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We Carry On: A Tribute to Alison and Adam

It was a disorienting Wednesday morning on Twitter.

My eyes and thumbs perused the normal banter of old high school friends, article links tossed out by the slew of environmental journalists I follow for Earth updates.

And then something stopped me momentarily in my scrolling.

I read that wrong, I assume.

But no.

I see the same headline a few tweets above.  Another shocking jolt.  Another gasp of disbelief.

Ex-Broadcaster Kills 2 on Air in Virginia Shooting” –– The New York Times confirms my doubts, my suspicions that what I read earlier was, in fact, true.

The next morning in one of my lectures, we do what every journalism program in the country should have done, and that is talk about the on-camera shooting of two Virginia journalists, practicing the very craft we are destined to replicate.

“Does this tragedy affect your desire to become journalists?” my professor asks us.  We’re all a little shell-shocked, to be sure –– but even more-so after viewing the contested Thursday morning front page of the New York Daily News.

I have to admit, as I sat there gaping at the horrific images splashed across the Daily News’ front page in tabloid-like fashion, I didn’t know what to think.  I knew becoming a journalist wasn’t exactly the relaxing desk-job bankers and secretaries enjoy.  

But I always assumed journalists got themselves in trouble by entering a war-torn area unadvised, or putting themselves in the midst of a dangerous mob.  What happens now, when there is absolutely no way to prepare for this outcome?  How do you ever rationalize this kind of situation until you’re okay to keep pressing on?  Are journalists ever truly safe from harm?

To tap into a philosophical vein: no, we as journalists, as fragile human beings, will never be okay.  We will never be able to assure our safety, even in our own hometowns.  There are accidents, there are wrong-places-at-wrong-times.  There are tragedies.

But we carry on.

We carry on for Alison Parker and Adam Ward, and for all of those who have lost their lives practicing their passion.

Because, ultimately, we journalists are serving the public –– and the public will never stop needing the assistance, the intelligence, and the know-how of journalists.  

There are days, like today, when it may seem impossible to continue feeding the beast that is our news-engaged society.  But there are days when the thrill of journalism will triumph over all other human suffering and strife.

Let us continue to keep fighting, to keep digging, to keep exploring the world, for Alison and Adam.  Let us remember those who have fallen, but let us also remember those who have finished admirable careers as the storytellers we one day hope to become.

Today, take a moment of silence for Alison and Adam, for the struggles our profession has faced and the struggles we will inevitably face in the future.

And then, with heavy hearts, let us carry on.

Bethany N. Bella is studying Journalism, Environmental Studies and Cultural Anthropology at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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How Twitter is keeping tabs on the news

Twitter's news tab, unveiled last week, as seen on iOS. (Photo by the author.)

Twitter’s news tab, unveiled last week, as seen on its iOS platform. (Photo by the author.)

Last week, Twitter made available to some users in the United States a new feature called the News Tab.

This tab, available on the social network’s iOS and Android platforms, allows the user access to top headlines from varied sources. When a user taps an article to see more, they will see a headline, a brief paragraph and a link to that article. Below the article are top tweets from other sources.

According to a report from the L.A. Times, the feature is available in Japan, and it has been suggested that this could be a precursor to Project Lightning, a program for news and event curating that was announced in June, according to a report from Fortune. Indeed, beyond this, it has led to new engagement via the social network, which has shown benefits for audiences and Twitter itself.

“It’s a smart move for Twitter,” said Jennifer Wilson, the social media editor for the Toronto Star newspaper in Canada, in a telephone interview. “They are upping the potential for sharing.”

Wilson added that this allows Twitter to give context on information whilst staying true to messages in 140 characters.

“The news tab is interesting because instead of checking your morning newsletters, you have a one stop shop for news,” Wilson said. “It’s a different way to engage people on the network. They’re doing a lot of experiments and this is just another one where you see people logging in and coming back.”

The news of the introduction of the news tab comes amid continued concerns of user growth, announced in second quarter results July 28. The tab is not available internationally, but Wilson says should Twitter decide to make it available in Canada, there will be questions news organizations have to answer, from how to get tweets out there, to ensuring audiences are served not just within the tab but also in their news feeds. These questions are also likely of other organizations including in the US.

On the issue of growth, Wilson said this was a direct response to what Facebook was doing in terms of its Instant Articles program, and for Twitter’s part, there was no restrictions placed by the algorithm.

“They’re highlighting that news is an important part of the service they provide to users,” Wilson said. “It’s another way to make sure users are getting the most up to date information.”

It is unclear however as to the news tab’s prospects in the United States, or indeed internationally. Reached by email, Rachel Milner, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said this was an experiment and declined to share any further plans.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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Whatever the beat, the facts are always king

The trading rumor surrounding New York Mets player Wilmer Flores reminds us of why the facts are crucial. (Photo: Deansfa/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

The trading rumor surrounding New York Mets player Wilmer Flores reminds us of why the facts are crucial. (Photo: Deansfa/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

It has long been established that social media has changed how we think about engaging with our audiences, from developing stories to informing them of what is going on as it happens. Yet, there is one particular question that arises when it comes to informing – to be first, or not to be first?

Media organizations and journalists are trying to be the first with exclusive news, and sports journalists in New York thought they had a big exclusive last week as the baseball trade deadline came and went. The New York Mets were said to be trading two players to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez, and the other player subject to trading was Wilmer Flores.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post broke the story before 9pm ET, as the Mets were taking on the San Diego Padres, according to a report on the subject from the Columbia Journalism Review. The news got through Twitter and all the regular places, and even to Flores, who cried on the field, distraught, embarrassed and concerned. The Mets had been the only team Flores had played for since his promotion to the major leagues, so one can understand the personal factors in the attachment.

However, the facts weren’t all aligned, and said trade would not proceed. Flores would stay with the Mets, overcoming the issue to beat the Washington Nationals that Friday, and Gomez would go to the Houston Astros. Readers and viewers alike had been misled, merely because of the rush to be first, in order to beat the competition.

The question of to be first or not be first does not apply exclusively to the world of sports. It applies to all beats, be it politics, business or entertainment. The audience want the truth – impartial, reliable information. It’s what keeps your relationship with your audience together. It’s what is expected from every journalist. It’s part of the job. If it’s a rumor, you say it’s a rumor, then work the phones, send that email, try to get to the bottom of it. Running with it merely as stated fact does no one any good.

To quote C.P. Scott, an editor of The Guardian newspaper in Britain during the 19th and early 20th centuries, comment is free, but facts are sacred, and in an age where rumors and speculation can run rampant on social media, the facts are crucial.

It therefore is better to be right the first time, and to tweet or post on to social media when you have everything verified. Not only is that what audiences want, they’ll be sure to come back to you for information on that beat, because you can be trusted.

And the ability to be trusted is, without a doubt, a home run.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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