Unspun is forever amazed and amused by how incessantly journalists maintain that social media is journalism 2.0.
Except in a very limited number of cases social media publishers – the Twitterers and bloggers – are adding context to existing information. Rarely do they go out, find and verify the information before reporting it.
This has been and will be the nature of social media for some time to come. Those who recognise the beast for what it is will find it extremely informative and helpful. These are the people that may use it as a tip to what’s happening and consume the information with huge grains of salt, using what’ published more as a general indicator than an instrument of truth.
Those who fail to see this will forever be left pronouncing biased opinions about how inaccurate and misleading social media can be, thereby upholding the status quo of mainstream journalism.
Piece of Mind: Two Jakarta Mall Suicides Demonstrate The Dangers of Twitter Journalism
It was on Monday, around 4:30 p.m. I was in the newsroom working on an article when my BlackBerry vibrated, indicating an incoming message, which was grim news.
A friend messaged me that an unidentified person had plunged from the fifth floor of Grand Indonesia mall, and landed on the railing of an escalator in front of Forever 21 clothing store. No further explanation was given.
I looked for details on online news portals, but found limited information. In what is now a natural reaction, I checked on Twitter but was even more perplexed by the bits of information being fed through the microblogging site.
It started with mismatching details over the person’s identity: A boy or a girl, a shopper or a waitress, the victim’s age and so on. The reason for the death was also a topic of dispute. Some wrote the victim fell accidentally while posing for photos, while others wrote it had been a suicide.
I soon learned from traditional news providers that the victim was a 24-year-old woman from Palembang, and she had committed suicide.
Even more disturbing, people posted real-time pictures of the victim on Twitter. The photos showed the deceased woman from different angles.
As if one alleged suicide wasn’t enough for one day, at around 9 p.m. I received a message from a friend that a 25-year-old man had jumped from the fifth floor of another mall, Senayan City, along with photos of the victim.