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Slaves to the almighty click

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Filed Under on August 15th, 2014

Scrolling through my newsfeed, I often roll my eyes when I see news sources using social media to hype stories to increase clicks. Sometimes, they are so quick to produce a vague story, without all the facts, which creates a frenzy of comments. Exactly what they want. Mission accomplished.

But in my opinion, there is a larger issue at hand. As a journalism major, I was taught to report the facts, not to embellish a story to get more views or clicks. I don’t want to use bold images to hype up a story so you’ll click on it.

I decided to reach out to my College Professor, Alan Sivell, News Director at St. Ambrose University, who was a reporter before the days of social media. His comment was so spot on that I named this blog post after his quote.

“Reporters have become slaves to their output…and don’t spend enough time GATHERING info…real facts. And they are slaves to clicks,” said Sivell.

I couldn’t have said this better myself. But why do today’s news reporters sacrifice the art of journalism for a bait and click?

Isn’t it a journalist’s social obligation to report the facts? But instead some have become subservient to the power of clicks and rush to release stories without all the correct information.

As soon as they hear a bit of a story, for example, a shooting in the area, they rush to post a eye catching image along with a baiting headline, but there are no facts yet. They don’t know, but yet they need to be first to report even if all of the facts are not fully gathered.

The demand for instant news stories has changed the way that journalists traditionally function thus jeopardizing their credibility.

2014 Study Impact of Social Media on News: more crowd-checking, less fact-checking, reported, “With 45% of journalists putting out 60% to 100% of what they publish as soon as possible – without checking facts – and correct later if necessary, “publish first and correct later” seems to be the new motto.”

I believe this is the source of the problem along with the constant need to receive information at lightning speed. It’s also lazy. Before the days of social media, reporters had to fact-check as their story would be in print and if any corrections were needed, it had to wait until the next day. It’s too easy to correct online articles that many journalists have adopted the “publish first and correct later” motto.

What happened to the days of Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite? Real reporting seems to have vanished in the wake of social media.

Is social media driving the decline of good reporting? Are we so quick to throw anything out there that drives traffic without fact-checking? It’s already difficult to trust what you read online, I don’t need reporters contributing to the issue at hand. Let’s stick to the facts.


Mo Carter

About The Author

Mo Carter has been riding the social media roller coaster since 2005. As the social media specialist at Nerdwerx, she is responsible for managing social media campaigns and blogging her little heart out. The St. Louis native turned Quad Cities staple graduated from St. Ambrose in 2006 with degrees in Communication and Journalism. Mo is also a singer, acoustic guitarist, and ukulele player extraordinaire who performs around town. When Mo isn't busy making music or status updates, her time is consumed with live music concerts, hanging with her man, and kickin' with her small army of amazing friends for a night out on the town.

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