Alfred Hermida’s Tweets And Truth: Paper Review
- Jochen Spangenberg
- On January 28, 2014
Check out our latest paper review: Tweets and Truth. Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification by Alfred Hermida.
Amidst the information coming from Social Media platforms, the process of verification becomes pivotal for the journalistic profession. Alfred Hermida, associate professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada presented an excellent contribution on this issue at The Future of Journalism Conference 2011 at Cardiff University.
In his paper (for full bibliographical details see the end of this article), Hermida examines the evolution of verification and the role it has played for journalistic work. He sheds light on how the discipline changed as a result of the emergence of Social Media platforms such as Twitter.
According to Hermida, journalists’ authority to interpret and represent reality is challenged profoundly these days, because it no longer lies in the hands of a selected few to disseminate information to a potentially large audience and interpret its validity. Furthermore, he investigates the interplay of verification and subsequent communication according to established journalistic practices, with the communication of information by non-experts via Social Networks without prior verification. Hermida also provides examples as to how media outlets are using Social Networks such as Twitter.
Some aspects worthy to be highlighted further:
- The practice of verification bestows journalistic communication with its credibility and believability
- Twitter users take on the role of “social sensors of the news” (Sakaki et al, 2010), functioning as an early warning detection system for breaking news, and then delivering a stream of real-time data as events unfold
- Research suggests that mainstream news outlets have adopted an opportunistic model, tapping social media to fulfill a need for information from a location until professional journalists arrive on the scene, hours or even days later
- According to a survey of 500 journalists in 15 countries by Oriella (2011), almost half of respondents used Twitter to source angles for a news story. Only a third said they used social media to verify a story or check a fact. Most relied on traditional sources such as PR agencies and corporate spokespeople.
As stated at the beginning: a contribution well worth reading in full for anybody interested in the topic of verification and what this means for the journalistic profession and its future.
Hermida, Alfred (2011): Tweets and Truth: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification. In: Journalism Practice, Volume 6, Issue 5-6, 2012, Special Issue: The Future of Journalism 2011: Developments and Debates.
(The Paper was presented at The Future of Journalism Conference 2011 at Cardiff University. Author’s manuscript, which forms the basis of this summary, available here).