Twitteran: We Should Do What We Do Best

By | June 18, 2009

Paul Lamb over at MediaShift asks:

Is there still a need for vetting and fact checking of stories. Absolutely. But isn’t that something a machine, building off our collective intelligence, could be trained to do far better than any one human or editorial staff? Of course this ignores the fact that machines aren’t good at storytelling or understanding the nuances of human emotions and interactions – that which makes for good reporting and journalism. But maybe that’s something the machine could be taught as well? Maybe even doing it better than the tired old formulas used in most mainstream reporting?

The twitteran thing has been ably covered elsewhere, but I couldn’t resist posting a comment, which I narcissistically reproduce here:

Paul, I think you’re right in your comment that journalists need to think beyond storytelling and reporting, but that is part of a bigger crying need for us in the news industry to think harder about how we report, write and convey the news, and, indeed, what constitutes news.

In the case of Tehran, it’s a complex picture. Reporting political upheaval is difficult at the best of times, and Iran is not the first time that crowd-sourced news has done a better job of capturing an overall picture–of what is visible.

But reporting is also about uncovering the hidden information–the behind-the-scenes struggle, and I’ve not seen anything either on twitter or, frankly, in mainstream media, that’s captured that more difficult part of the story.

Smart media practitioners will learn from this lesson, not only that they can out-source to the crowd some of the ‘public’ events, but that their value lies in better reporting the ‘private’ events, those that go on behind closed doors.

We need to move with the times, and see as a positive development the emergence of tools that create a more comprehensive picture of mass events like this. After all, we’re supposed to be in the business of bringing light to the dark corners, and this could so easily have been–and may yet be–one of the darkest of recent times.

MediaShift Idea Lab . Twittering Away the Jobs of Journalists | PBS

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