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Social media as a trustworthy news source: Exploring journalists’ working practices concerning social media

We report on findings from qualitative interviews conducted with 24 journalists working with social media in major news organizations in Europe. We identified five working practices concerning the verification of social media content and sources.

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REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2013 REVEAL consortium
Your Name – Your Company
your@email
www.yourwebsite.com
Social media as a trustworthy news source: Exploring
journalists’ working practices concerning social media
Petter Bae Brandtzæg, Marika Lüders, Jochen Spangenberg*, Linda Rath-Wiggins*
& Asbjørn Følstad
SINTEF, Oslo & Deutsche Welle*, Bonn/Berlin
ISMI'14, Oslo 25.04.14
Petter.b.brandtzag@sintef.no
REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 1
2013-2016
REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 2
REVEAL aims to….
advance the necessary technologies for
making a higher level analysis of social media
possible, thus enabling users to reveal hidden
‘modalities’ such as reputation, influence or
credibility of information.
REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 3
Social media are changing journalism
The majority of journalists use social media
(96% in UK, Social Journalism Study 2013, UK)
REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium
Verification of social media content is challenging
4
Social media brings new opportunities, but is often difficult to determine the
truth, accuracy, or validity of content and sources……..
REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 5
1#Social media are part of the "information war"
Content in social media, such as videos, photos, Twitter updates and blogs
are all new kinds of ammo in this war (e.g. interests groups, agenda setting)
Egypt
Syria
Iran
Ukraina

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Social media as a trustworthy news source: Exploring journalists’ working practices concerning social media

  • 1. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2013 REVEAL consortium Your Name – Your Company your@email www.yourwebsite.com Social media as a trustworthy news source: Exploring journalists’ working practices concerning social media Petter Bae Brandtzæg, Marika Lüders, Jochen Spangenberg*, Linda Rath-Wiggins* & Asbjørn Følstad SINTEF, Oslo & Deutsche Welle*, Bonn/Berlin ISMI'14, Oslo 25.04.14 Petter.b.brandtzag@sintef.no
  • 2. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 1 2013-2016
  • 3. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 2 REVEAL aims to…. advance the necessary technologies for making a higher level analysis of social media possible, thus enabling users to reveal hidden ‘modalities’ such as reputation, influence or credibility of information.
  • 4. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 3 Social media are changing journalism The majority of journalists use social media (96% in UK, Social Journalism Study 2013, UK)
  • 5. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Verification of social media content is challenging 4 Social media brings new opportunities, but is often difficult to determine the truth, accuracy, or validity of content and sources……..
  • 6. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 5 1#Social media are part of the "information war" Content in social media, such as videos, photos, Twitter updates and blogs are all new kinds of ammo in this war (e.g. interests groups, agenda setting) Egypt Syria Iran Ukraina
  • 7. 6 Typical working practices Monitoring Twitter continuously throughout the day. Tweetdeck with several columns: feed from followings, mentions, searches on selected news- cases. Journalists who do not tweet much, still constantly monitor. Twitter, more important as news- source rather than a publication channel. 2# Information overload in social media
  • 8. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium #3 Different modalities 7
  • 9. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 4# Trade-offs: verification vs. fast-paced publishing 8 Real-time breaking news Verification of content "if speed is the currency of the modern information era, misinformation is the increasingly high cost" (Wood, 2013). Social media are speeding up publishing
  • 10. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Research question and method 9 What characterizes emerging journalistic practices concerning the verification of social media content and sources? 24 semi-structured interviews with journalists (early adaptors of social media) between January and February 2014. To increase the breadth of the data collection, the interviewees were based in different European countries. The sample included 18 men and 6 women 14 7 1 1 1
  • 11. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Findings 10 Five practices among social media journalists: 1. Trusted sources 2. Access to eyewitnesses and sources 3. Traditional journalistic methods 4. Multimodal verification and verification tools 5. Workaround methods
  • 12. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 1# Trusted sources 11 1. Trusted sources 2. Access to eyewitnesses and sources 3. Traditional journalistic methods 4. Multimodal verification and verification tools 5. Workaround methods "What we often use is if other media have also used it. If they refer to the same. It's not a guarantee, but often gives a hint, like, yesterday BBC and New York Times and others referred to the same tweets. That could be an indication that they also consider it accurate, but of course everyone could go into the same trap."
  • 13. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Social media as a "primary" news source 12 Trusted sources are important as, the first stage in a news-production process has been reversed: ” "Before, we often called people, to find out whether anything had happened. Not many years ago, you took the initiative. But now, the opposite is the case because you often get information from Twitter or other places. I work a lot with the police and the justice-system, and it has changed, social media is now the place where you first get access to information. (...) The foundation for what you produce news-stories on is really from social media."o a much larger extent now come to you. In a rather large volume.”
  • 14. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 2# Access to eyewitnesses and sources 13 1. Trusted sources 2. Access to eyewitnesses and sources 3. Traditional journalistic methods 4. Multimodal verification and verification tools 5. Workaround methods "Often, it can be as simple as, well just making searches in Google and Facebook, and check out whether the person concerned is who he presents himself as." "The first time I can remember to have used social media very actively in a big incident was the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. I looked at different student- profiles at the school and sent requests to those students who seemed to have been there when it happened. We had several eyewitnesses, via Facebook. We were directly in touch with eyewitnesses." Photo: Brett Weinstein (CC): http://www.flickr.com/photos/nrbelex/471661031
  • 15. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Social media as "world wide" news source 14 "Journalists have become better at looking beyond their own neighbourhood. The distance to some village in Pakistan is shorter than it was five years ago."
  • 16. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 3# Traditional journalistic methods 15 1. Trusted sources 2. Access to eyewitnesses and sources 3. Traditional journalistic methods 4. Multimodal verification and verification tools 5. Workaround methods "Regular journalistic criteria are still working, right. Like if there is a tweet about a plane having crashed in Bergen, we don't report it, we call the rescue coordination center and the police, right. Social media content are managed the same way as regular news tips that are called in to us. Everything has to be checked and confirmed."
  • 17. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 4# Multimodal verification and tools 16 1. Trusted sources 2. Access to eyewitnesses and sources 3. Traditional journalistic methods 4. Multimodal verification and verification tools 5. Workaround methods "Did we also publish it? Oh yes, we did, "Here, the miracle-toddler is rescued." We included the same disclaimer, "apparently a toodler in the ruins". (...) It was uploaded to YouTube on 22.01, we picked it up at once, and published it on the 25th."
  • 18. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 5# Workaround methods 17 1. Trusted sources 2. Access to eyewitnesses and sources 3. Traditional journalistic methods 4. Multimodal verification and verification tools 5. Workaround methods "But we take reservations. For example, we write that they supposedly claimed this and that (…)You can always include disclaimers. We do that often" "One challenge, and particularly with photos. Like with text, you can always include disclaimers. But when you use a photo or video, they need to be absolutely confirmed. (...) If you publish a photo of a large explosion, you need to be sure this is the right place."
  • 19. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Main challenges 18 User challenges: Journalists vary in their competence in respect to social media, and are often making use of manually and time consuming verification practices. Contextual challenges: Increased expectations to high-speed publishing, growing amount of content and more multimodal content in social media. ”The most important thing is to produce results as quickly as possible, and to hope for the best”
  • 20. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium Innovation in social media verification? 19 User requirements: A verification tool that should enable… - easy and efficient way to verify social media content (in particular important for video and photos) - a tool integrated with applications journalists already use (e.g. Twitter). - enable identification of, and contact to prime sources/contributors - organize and make sense of a huge amounts of content - provide a clear understanding of how the verification is taking place (what is behind the algorithm)
  • 21. REVEAL Project: Co-funded by the EU FP7 Programme Nr.: 610928 www.revealproject.eu © 2014 REVEAL consortium 20 Thanks http://revealproject.eu/