The Changing Face of News Gathering: Getting In On The Action

The categorisation of news gathering as traditional or non-traditional was flagged as problematic from the start. When asked if he considered himself a non-traditional reporter, Browne said:

“The source of information that we receive a few years ago would have been considered non-traditional, its primarily social media content that we work with… Its the application of traditional news values and journalism values to a new form of information.”

Browne continued,

“Storyful was founded on the idea that you can draw news from the noise… We filter the social web in a way so that we are able to monitor it very effectively.”

It was made clear that individuals are becoming citizen journalists by generating valuable content and presenting it to the public. Higgins is a good example of this, he became a well known journalist by gathering information on the weapons being used in Syria. Through online channels he effectively accessed and deciphered information which confirmed an arms smuggling route from Croatia through Jordan to the opposition fighters.

Barot gave us some perspective from within the BBC on the advancements of social media:

“Its changed a lot. Four years ago just finding a reporter who would take Twitter seriously as a journalistic tool was not easy… Now we have hundreds of reporters on Twitter.”

He went on to mark the 2011 UK riots as a point when Twitter really came into its own in conveying news as it happened. Barot said:

“As well as being a source of pictures, videos and eye-witness accounts we were feeding in real-time intelligence in terms of our news desks.”

Unlike some of the others’ approach, Greg’s organisation Videre, whose motto is “Seeing is Believing”, goes back to first-hand evidence collecting for various media and human rights organisations. Run like a secret intelligence core, Videre’s reporter’s identities’, as well as the information they collect, remain untraceable and their carefully gathered  information is given away for free. Pendry outlined a potential concern:

“How does anyone know if any of this stuff is true? There is no transparency at all so it completely depends on everyone trusting you and the people that work with you.”

When asked why Videre does what it does, Greg answered simply, “To try to do good.”

It was made clear that the credibility of information and how to verify it is an issue which plagues new media sources. Higgins demonstrated how he pieced together information from anonymous Libyan footage to effectively map events. The already media savvy audience were eager to hear more tips on geo-location technology which Browne went on to outline.  He emphasises the importance of investigating three questions; the source, date and location.

Browne went on to provide an example as to how his team of experts confirmed recent footage coming out of Dariya, Syria as well as how they traced the author of a video posted during the Boston Marathon bombing.

With the boundaries of investigative journalism being pushed in this way, the question of privacy became essential. Barot highlighted:

“Something these social media companies are pushing towards is that actually there is nothing wrong in being open and that privacy is a bit of an illusion.”

Evidently in Videre’s case privacy must be upheld at all costs and Greg summarised the high-tech low-tech balance well, he said:

“To understand when to use the the technology which enables you and when using it puts you and other people in danger.”

While exploring the open media platforms available to journalists is essential in todays world, Barot warned of the growing number of closed social media tools such as chat applications. While Barot could not predict what future technology in the media world would look like, he confirmed a far wider spread of mobile technology. He concluded:

“That is one of the things that is definitely going to be a big change over the next 18 months as mobile technology becomes so much more ubiquitous in the developing world.”

Watch or listen to the event here: