Fact checking and the new media landscape

With the growing popularity of social media, even journalists are turning to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to gather information about breaking news stories.

However, could this reliance on user-generated content be causing a fall in reliable journalism? According to a recent report from the ING Group, one-third of journalists believe social media cannot be considered a reliable source of information, yet one-half claim these platforms are their primary resource. In fact, 78 per cent of journalists use social media every day and 68 per cent believe their industry would no longer be sustainable without social media.

Of those surveyed by ING, just 20 per cent said they fact check everything before they post. For the rest, the need to get stories published as quickly as possible has developed a culture of posting first, editing later. This is perhaps influenced by the fact that 60 per cent of journalists believe they are less bound by professionals rules on social media platforms, compared to the rules of journalism they comply with on traditional platforms.

So, what does this mean for PR professionals? ING found that 56 per cent believe social media has impacted the importance of traditional media. However, this does not mean these individuals are willing to give up on print and traditional media altogether, with 64 per cent sure that social media is more superficial and offers less scope for depth.

As the survey shows, 51 per cent of PR professionals believe the growing reliance on social media and the declining desire to fact-check among journalists has altered the reliability of news.

With journalists relying more on user-generated content to publish stories and less likely to fact check before posting, PR professionals need to be ready to respond to misinformed and incorrect posts. Rather than waiting for a journalist to get in touch with you, try utilising social media monitoring to uncover stories as they happen.

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