Warn­ing about ‘need for speed’

The Bulletin - - Front Page - BY ALEN DELIC

US­ING so­cial me­dia with­out ap­ply­ing the same news val­ues as in the tra­di­tional me­dia can have se­ri­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions for me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions, says a me­dia law ex­pert.

Cur­rently, there is no dif­fer­ence be­tween me­dia laws that ap­ply to tra­di­tional me­dia and the me­dia laws that ap­ply to pub­lish­ing on­line and through so­cial me­dia.

Gadens Lawyers part­ner and me­dia law ex­pert Roger Blow said jour­nal­ists need to be par­tic­u­larly care­ful with the harsher de­mands of a 24-hour news cy­cle.

“Given the speed at which me­dia now op­er­ates, it’s a nat­u­ral re­ac­tion for jour­nal­ists to try to get the sto­ries out quicker,” Mr Blow said.

“Jour­nal­ists should be aware that there is no dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion with re­spect to po­ten­tial is­sues like defama­tion when pub­lish­ing to so­cial me­dia, on­line or print.

“When they’re post­ing some­thing on­line, they’re be­ing judged to the same le­gal stan­dard as they would be if they were putting the same con­tent into a hard-copy pub­li­ca­tion.”

Grif­fith Univer­sity lec­turer and me­dia law re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Mark Pear­son said jour­nal­ists’ check­ing prac­tices shouldn’t change just be­cause they’re writ­ing on­line. “If in doubt, leave it out,” he said. “They need to be just as wary of the le­gal pit­falls of pub­lish­ing on their web­sites and so­cial me­dia as they were about tra­di­tional me­dia, but they need to make those de­ci­sions or take that ad­vice much more quickly in an in­stant news en­vi­ron­ment.”

Moral­ity and com­mon sense are the big­gest things that jour­nal­ists have to take into ac­count when us­ing so­cial me­dia, ac­cord­ing to Mr Blow.

He said the days fol­low­ing the Bos­ton bomb­ings in April pro­vided ex­am­ples of the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of hasty and mis­guided so­cial me­dia posts.

“There was one Face­book post that used a photo al­legedly of a man crouched over a girl that he had been wait­ing to pro­pose to when she fin­ished the marathon” he said.

“It ended up be­ing a com­pletely fab­ri­cated story by some­one who I as­sume just wanted to get some at­ten­tion by hav­ing a post go vi­ral.”

The heart-wrench­ing story be­hind the photo was proven false, but not be­fore be­ing seen by mil­lions of people on­line.

Af­ter the ini­tial re­ac­tions to the blasts, on­line fo­rums and com­mu­nity groups such as 4chan and Red­dit took it upon them­selves to try and iden­tify the sus­pects re­spon­si­ble for the bombs.

Users in­cor­rectly iden­ti­fied a num­ber of sus­pects and cir­cu­lated their names on Twit­ter, in­clud­ing Salah Ed­din Barhoum and Yas­sine Zaime, who were later plas­tered across the New

York Post’s front page un­der the head­line ‘Bag men’.

While Red­dit apol­o­gised for its in­ac­tion in shut­ting down the dis­cus­sion about po­ten­tial sus­pects, the New York Post stuck by its story.

The story in it­self did not name the two young men in­volved, but in­sin­u­ated the two were in­volved.

The fa­ther of one of the teenagers in­volved is now seek­ing le­gal ad­vice about the mat­ter.

Mr Blow said that de­spite the fal­si­ties that emerged af­ter the event, it was also a good ex­am­ple of how so­cial me­dia can work.

“It was the first time I’ve seen po­lice agencies and the main­stream me­dia openly ac­knowl­edg­ing the im­por­tance of cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists in as­sist­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a ma­jor dis­as­ter,” he said.

Closer to home, Twit­ter again played a ma­jor role dur­ing the non-event of the March lead­er­ship spill.

A fake Kevin Rudd Twit­ter ac­count con­firmed Mr Rudd was go­ing to stand against Prime Min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard, which was then retweeted by Se­na­tor Ur­sula Stephens, as well as some mem­bers of the me­dia.

“In hind­sight, that’s an ex­am­ple of jour­nal­ists not do­ing their home­work and try­ing to shoot first be­cause it was such a big story,” Mr Blow said.

“People won’t re­mem­ber the fact you were first - they’re more in­clined to re­mem­ber that you were wrong.”

He said harsher dead­lines and more pres­sure would in­evitably lead to jour­nal­ists mak­ing mis­takes.

“You can­not ver­ify sources and achieve the same qual­ity of reporting in one hour as you can in 10 hours,” Mr Blow said.

“That’s not just a le­gal ques­tion. When deal­ing with sen­si­tive sto­ries in­volv­ing vic­tims, there’s also a moral obli­ga­tion to get it right.”

In this edi­tion of the PANPA Bul­letin (pages 12-14), Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Pub­lish­ing for The News­pa­per Works Mitchell Mur­phy speaks with the Caleb Solomon - Man­ag­ing Edi­tor (Dig­i­tal) of The Bos­ton

Globe at the time of the Bos­ton bomb­ings. Solomon dis­cusses The Bos­ton Globe’s cov­er­age of the event and ex­plains how staff pho­tog­ra­pher John Tlumacki was on the spot to cap­ture iconic pho­tos. One of Mr Tlumacki’s dra­matic im­ages (left) fea­tured teenager Syd­ney Cor­co­ran be­ing com­forted by by­standers. Syd­ney was watch­ing the Bos­ton Marathon with her mother when the bombs went off. Since the blast Syd­ney has re­cov­ered and won prom queen at her high school, how­ever, trag­i­cally her mother has had to have both legs am­pu­tated.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.