The Internet "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge."— Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
Digital information sources Newspaper web sites TV websites | cnn.com Aggregators | Drudge Report, Yahoo News, Storify Blogs Independent/niche news sites Social media sites
Journalism Sourcing 2.0 Information supplied by known/official sources Unknown/unofficial/unbounded sources - Web pages - E-mail - SMS - Twitter - Flickr - Facebook - YouTube
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Sourcing 2.0 Advantages Increase in overall reporting Unofficial sources whose reports match official sources become more reliable.
Sourcing 2.0 Challenges Information overload How to verify information from those unofficial or computer-mediated sources.
“Wild and Wooly” When in doubt, doubt. Anyone can put information up on the web and distribute quickly to a wide audience.
Exercise Open Google search Type in: “aids” “women” “facts” Evaluate the page http://18.104.22.168/library/research/AIDSFACTS.htm
Search engine rankings FACT A top ranking in Google does not mean : information is more relevant or more trustworthy.
Fake, phony, biased &premature Do not assume information is accurate, up-to-date, or unbiased. Rush to be “first” = tradeoffs. 5-40% of web accounts are fraudulent
Evaluating Online Sources Questions to ask: Authority Accuracy Objectivity Currency Coverage Value
Authority Who authored the information? What gives them expertise? Truncate the site’s URL or address. Check whois domain name registry.
Accuracy Are the facts documented? Are facts and arguments supported by references to reputable sources? Does the information contradict other reliable sources?
Objectivity What is the purpose of the website? Does the source accept advertising? Have a hidden agenda, or rigidly narrow point of view Conflict of interest?
Currency How long ago was the page updated? Check www.archive.org – “The Wayback Machine” – to see how site evolved.
Coverage Does this site address the topic you are investigating? Is the information basic or detailed and scholarly? However complex the language might be, is the information substantial?
Value Does the site have a professional appearance? Are there words spelled wrong? Good grammar?
Attribution and transparency If you conducted your interview with a source over the phone – say so. If you conducted an interview via email – source it as such. If you grabbed information off a Facebook page and it was the basis for your report, reveal that to your audience.
More transparency =more credibility
Correcting Misinformation The true power of media – including public relations and advertising, rests in the ability to influence society through truth telling. You have a responsibility to correct any errors you have amplified. The work of journalists can affect people’s reputations and livelihoods.