In the age of digital reporting, journalists feel pressure to break news as soon as it happens. When being the first to report on an event becomes a newsroom’s priority, is anything lost or compromised in the journalism profession?
Christine Loman, Social Media Editor at Syracuse.com, says even in the age of fast-paced social media reporting, being right should always remain the first priority of journalists. “There is room to be right and be fast,” Loman says. Balancing speed and accuracy means journalists today must be able to think critically and be their own editor while they are reporting to ensure that the information they’re putting out is both credible and complete.
Context is Key
A major challenge presented in fast-paced reporting that isn’t discussed as much as it should be is the importance of providing context. Factually sound information can be misinterpreted in the absence of context, and this is especially important in “live” news coverage. The job of journalists is to not only report the facts, but to also provide the context for those facts in order to illuminate the most complete truth.
On social media, it is easy to report on pieces of a news story without taking a step back periodically to assemble the puzzle for those who are tuning in late, or are generally uninformed about the greater implications of an event. Whether its a headline, a tweet, or live coverage of an event, Loman says it’s extremely important to keep updating audiences with the context of what you’re reporting on — what does this information mean, and why is it important?
The Importance of Digging Deeper
Identifying patterns, trends, and connecting dots to reveal a bigger picture is a journalistic skill that I fear is undervalued in the age of rapid-fire digital reporting. We get lost in the abundance of news breaking each day, and before we can analyze the deeper implications of an event, we have to move on to reporting on the latest piece of breaking news.
This whiplash of information can do more harm than good to audiences if a newsroom doesn’t make an effort to support at least a few journalists who are given the time and resources to dig deeper, and go beyond the surface of breaking news.