Media skepticism much needed

08 Oct

Jeff Jarvis isn’t simply being a cheerleader of citizen journalism because of the new media edge (and hip factor) it lends to a profession being slashed (by bean-counters) and burned (by the digital-rules crowd.) More than two years ago, he redefined it as ‘networked journalism’ which removed the dichotomy between Pros and Ams. But how to deal with the credibility factor, or lack thereof?

Responding to how another recent Apple rumor (remember the first one?) piped through an unverified iReport portal on CNN, was being framed as the downside of citizen journalism, Jarvis used this as a ‘teaching moment’ to remind us of the need for media skepticism.

“Mistakes – let alone rumors and lies – go out live and the public has to learn to judge the news more skeptically. The truth is, they always have. But now rather than ignoring their skepticism, we need to encourage it and educate people to think this way. Call it media literacy.”

Truth is, most people expect the media to be fact-checked and error free. They don’t buy into the definition that the media is ‘the first rough draft of history’ and all that.

People often complain about the typos and non-adherence to the style-guide, but don’t always howl about the skewered facts. I find the absence of ‘absolute truth’ across the board, in The Economist and NPR, Drudge and talk radio. That’s the bargain I make when I subscribe to them.

At best the journalists (professional, amateur, networked or otherwise) can only give you one version of the truth. They may be our filters, but we need to also install our own.

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Posted by on October 8, 2008 in Social Media


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