Cut the clutter: Avoiding the lies, rumours and half truths when news monitoring

With more of an emphasis for mainstream journalists to get there first, rather than be correct, half truths and rumours can quickly escalate into what the wider world believes to be fact.

Unfortunately, this is as much down to social media as it is any other platform. While tools such as Twitter, Vine and Instagram have effectively turned everyone into citizen journalists if they find themselves in the midst of a story, lies and misinformation are now just as easy to spread as the truth.

Myths, lies and perpetuated rumours

Research published by the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism - part of the University of Columbia in the United States- highlights how news outlets have gotten worse at verifying their sources and providing credence to claims, especially in the online environment.

Twitter in particular has been noted as a source of rumour spreading which simply wouldn't have been able to take hold before the advent of social as a widely used platform.

News outlets have gotten worse at verifying their sources, particularly in the online environment.

While many credible journalists and news organisations use the service, the buzz around particularly viral stories can include tens of thousands of tweets per hour, leading to the more honest sources being drowned out amongst the background noise.

Carefully cutting out the noise

So, how can companies account for this in their media monitoring strategies? Ultimately, the answer lies in being careful as to what can be interpreted as the truth, and stories that should invite more trepidation.

The Tow Centre research found one of the biggest issues to be that even legitimate news organisations are using headlines reporting a claim to be true, while the body of the article itself merely noted the existence of the rumour.

Seventy per cent of the examples cited followed this pattern, which is even more detrimental on platforms where casual users will read only headlines, and potentially share the story accordingly.

The need to be first in the modern news environment can quickly lead to the spreading of rumours.

Consequently, using the right media intelligence tools to gain an insight into what's really being said, and where the value in it lies, is the difference between getting to the root cause of how the public is perceiving the news, or whether reporting is merely propagating myths.

While there can be little denying that many news organisations have gotten into bad practices, the most forward-thinking enterprises will be able to cut through the noise, recognise the truth, and leverage that knowledge effectively.

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