Posted by: alansylvestre | November 17, 2014

Journalism as an exchange of information gathering

While doing my readings for this week on reciprocal journalism, I wanted to talk about the ways journalists utilize social media and other forms of public interaction to help tell stories.

Take, for example, the recent shooting at Marysville-Pitluck High School earlier this month. I was sitting at my desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting when the events unfolded, and our staff immediately went to work to try and notify the public of what was going on. We don’t have reporters based out of that area, so we had to rely on the “reporting” that was going on at the time to help sort out the truth.

I was assisting in social media coverage, and found myself re-tweeting videos and photos that community members had put on social media documenting what was going on. We utilized community members “on-the-ground” information gathering to give the public up-to-date information about what was happening.

Then, when Associated Press photographers and reporters were able to go on scene, they could continue to investigate and provide more researched and reported stories to the public.

I’m using this example to show how journalism is becoming an industry of information exchange between journalists and community members. Journalists now rely on audience members to assist with the reporting.


  1. How do you fact-check the posts and/or verify the authenticity of the photos?

  2. It’s honestly a very hard process. As a staff, in this instance, we were looking at all the photos and tweets that were coming out of the area. We look for multiple sources that are tweeting the same information. When these events were unfolding, the staff would have conversations about whether we felt confident enough about the information to re-tweet it.

    In short, there is no easy answer. We look at all the information coming out of an event like this, and try to find multiple sources tweeting about the same information.

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