Monday, July 2, 2012

On when to embed tweets {gripes}

I love embedding tweets in stories. I’m all about it, especially when it takes the place of a quote.

The idea being, sometimes, people will tweet things that they wouldn’t say into your mic, or in front of your notebook. Sometimes, Twitter brings a truth serum to our lips.

Or, Twitter will be a good place to find sources, where you can quote their tweet and follow up with an interview later.

Social media sourcing can be a great way to get parts of the story you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. It’s a good way to display that in-the-moment thought, or quip.

But it’s not a good way to fill space. 

Take this HuffPo story: 

To take a step back, social media shouldn’t be used to fuel lazy journalism. It should never be a replacement for shoe-leather reporting. For a phone call.

And it should always be verified. Were they there? Did they see it? Do they have something to add?

What worries me is the idea that social media reporting is a good substitute for actual reporting. It’s not. It’s a good tip-sheet. It’s a good tool, not a replacement.

The telephone is used to make the call. Twitter is the telephone. It’s the mechanism by which we can touch our audiences. Using it does not mean you know how to ask the right questions, or call/tweet the right person.

There still needs to be good reporting behind it.