Speed vs Accuracy in Online JournalismPresentation Transcript
Speed vs accuracy in online journalism Laura Oliver Journalism.co.uk @lauraoliver
First or fast?
News organisations face a starker choice online between:
First with the news BUT not always right?
Last with the news BUT more accurate reporting?
“ How fast is too fast, when news must be more than mere glorified rumours ? And how much accuracy is too much, when news must be current ?”
[Paper on online journalism ethics,
University of Wisconsin]
Case study: London 7/7 bombings
Sky News ran with rumours that the blasts had been caused by bombs.
It updated with facts and reported previous claims as false as events progressed.
The BBC continued to report ‘a power surge’ until the bombs had been officially confirmed.
“ News does not usually break cleanly. Big stories
emerge in dribs and drabs, bits of information from many
sources - often conflicting and confusing. At Sky News we
specialise in drawing together all these strands to try to make
sense of them - as they happen.
“ We have always believed in taking the audience into our
confidence and sharing facts as soon as possible. That
means that when a big news story is unfolding we
report new information, clearly attributed to its
source, even if subsequently things turn out
[John Ryley, head of Sky News]
“ In what ways is the internet changing the fundamental values of journalism?” Loosening standards/less carefulness 45% Allowing others to have a voice (good/bad) 31% Emphasis on speed (good/bad) 25% [Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism 2009 State of the News Media study]
Reporting speculation and verification
“ Facts can be very misleading. Rumours - true or false - are always revealing.”
Case study: Mumbai bomb attacks
“ [O]n a major unfolding story there is a case also for simply monitoring, selecting and passing on the information we are getting as quickly as we can, on the basis that many people will want to know what we know and what we are still finding out, as soon as we can tell them.” [Steve Herrmann, editor, BBC News website]
BBC’s live updates Ushahidi.com
Is first best?
Online exacerbates spread of ‘rumour’ reports by news organisations
Need to have equally strong viral effect for correction
Repurposing of reports by non-journalists can remove attribution and disclaimers
News organisation should provide more than real-time aggregation - however useful this might be
Threat to long-form journalism? “ While sites like Twitter ask users to define their world in 140 characters or less, and speed – above accuracy or content – is the competitive force fuelling online news outlets, some contextual, interpretive and analytical modes of journalism are fading away. “ By cutting immersive journalism in favour of less expensive, superficial forms, the newspaper industry risks losing everything that has made it a valuable medium for 300 years.” [OJR report, Emily Henry, June 2009]