Social Media - Accuracy vs Immediacy

By Binaya Guragain 

Reputed editor of Nepal, Prateek Pradhan; few months back tweeted, ‘Paras Shah (then crown prince of Nepal) is no more.’ His tweet drew huge amount of attention from the public and journalists resulting number of re-tweets (RTs), shares & comments within a second.  But, nearly five minutes after Pradhan’s tweet spreads all over the world someone citing the confirmed source of Bangkok based hospital tweeted that Paras is alive.

Few weeks back, BBC’s war reporter Wyre Davis was censured by management after an accuracy complaint concerning his tweet about Israeli attack over GAZA. Davis has tweeted ‘those killed in the operations were nearly all civilians.’ But four out of 13 killed were civilian and others were militant.

Aforesaid two cases are fair enough to raise the question, which is more important ‘Accuracy or Immediacy’? With the evolution of ‘New Media, this has become debatable topics in regards to journalistic ethics. Many journalists nowadays use Social Media to break the news first instead of posting the news through the media they work for.  They believe that the traditional way of breaking news is slow and time consuming. Journalists have to come across through the different levels of verification –‘gate-keeping’-- which kills the spirits of immediacy. More argument on the side is that by the time news disseminates through mass media, people are already been informed through social media. Hence, in order to win the race, journalists have to feel pressure to be first in posting the news through social media as immediate as it comes to in notice.

Then, how to maintain the Accuracy? Answer might come from different perspectives. However, what I think is that nothing should be posted in social media without prior approval or ensuring its accuracy. Or if prior approval on the content is impossible then check, check & re-check the facts before posting any news. Accuracy is most important thing in journalism which can’t be overlooked. If journalists fail to ensure accuracy in the profession that leads them to lose the credibility of profession.

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