Wednesday 11 March 2009

Double-checking Twitter and journalism more generally

A couple of weeks back, I picked up that Krishnan Guru-Murthy had said during an interview that Twitter is not checked at Channel 4.

A couple of things by way of follow up.

First, I said I'd be surprised if any of the BBC's Twitter feeds are checked either. So I was surprised when I discovered that the BBC's Global News feed does actually pass through an editorial process whereby someone double-checks a tweet before it is published.

Although the way this feed is being used does mean double-checking is feasible - it's not being used as a conversational tool in the manner of Rory Cellan-Jones's feed for example. Rather, as a way of promoting interesting BBC material on foreign affairs.
Second, I've been meaning to pull Charlie Beckett's contribution on this out from the comments section of this blog. So here it is:
Charlie Beckett said...

"....It looks weird at first glance but in television especially, there are a thousand things that a journalist will do when making TV news that aren't double-checked. Did you source the pictures? did you double check the stats? when you wrote the caption did you double check the name spelling?
On 24 hour news we have got used to journalists saying that 'we have breaking news - this is all we know - we will try to confirm it and get back to you with the full facts.' as long as are transparent on Twitter and don't make the claim that it can do as much as other more spacious media platforms, than it will be fine. Krishnan is a great example of someone who knows how to use it and to make the most of what it does."

I think this raises an interesting point about the extent of continuity or change in so-called 'new' media platforms. It's all too easy to get sucked into the hurly-burly of the newness of media technology, when a short step back away from it all will quickly reveal some age-old editorial concerns.

Charlie's comment also begs these questions (at least in my mind) - what do journalists' double-check and why. What doesn't get checked and why? Does the checking process make any sense?

(After the recent Ross/Brand debacle, checking at the BBC appears to be tighter than the lid of a never-previously-opened jam jar. So much so that yesterday, the BBC's (soon-to-be) former blogger-in-residence, Steve Bowbrick, described "catastrophic levels of caution" at the Corporation.)


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