by: Jessi Galloway
It would seem that fact-checking in an age of technology where search engines are capable of turning over thousands of results in the blink of an eye would be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse. This, however, is not the case. The waters of internet reporting are a murky place: tread with caution!
It’s not that there isn’t value in the benefits of internet news writing, blogs, or twitter feeds; but how many of these posts are from a legitimate source? How many links down the line until the original details are less fact and more of a game of Telephone? (We’ve all played the game as children: you start out with a simple message and whisper it down the line, but by the time it gets to the end the message has become diluted.)
It seems to be the case that if enough people are posting a link or retweeting a post that it somehow gives it undue credibility. This goes for big time news reporters as well. One Media Bistro blogger, Fratti, reported that even the highly acclaimed news media’s, like The New York Times and Sports Illustrated , failed to do the footwork needed for the Manti Te’o story. She continues to question how there are stories referencing a funeral for the girl in question and no one has taken the time to check the obituary’s. Anyone else seeing a red flag?
When everyone’s rushing to be the first out with the story, (an issue quite prevalent with the invention of internet news writing) failure to follow up on the accuracy of the source has become a reoccurring problem.
The Media In Question
It’s strange to think that social media websites like Twitter and Facebook didn’t even exist ten-years ago. The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, announced to Forbes in October of 2012 that the site had reached the 1 billion users mark; a huge milestone for social media. The Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax is just one example of many where fake accounts or falsified information is involved. How many people have you accepted friend requests from whom you’ve never met based solely on the fact you have friends in common? It’s all too easy to fly under the radar, as this most recent hoax has proven.
If the Manti Te’o story has taught us anything it’s to always, always check your sources. While this seems a basic concept that goes without saying, the practice of it has gone to the wayside in favor of being the first with the story. You might get the scoop, but it’s also your reputation on the line if the break out story is inaccurate.