Is twitter a reliable source to use in news story? The short answer is no in the majority of cases. Now, to be fair Twitter is a great place to find little tidbits of information here and there in real time because of how user friendly the app is. However, Twitter is like Grand Central Station, a hub where millions of ideas, facts, and lies all convene in one place.
So much information is being thrown out there that vetting every piece of it is a logistical nightmare. Yet, it seems as though journalist are treating twitter like it’s a library database instead of Wikipedia page. According to a recent NiemanLab article Journalist have been treating tweets as reliable content instead of a source.
“Journalists tend to present tweets as content — interchangeable building blocks of news — rather than like sources, whose ideas and messages must be subject to scrutiny and verification. This sends repeated messages to audiences that information on Twitter is legitimate and authoritative, granting Twitter power.”
This has been most apparent in the case Former President Donald J. Trump. Through his entire presidency his tweets were routinely used as official quotes and statements. Then again, his whole twitter life span is well documented and deeply analysis where what he says on twitter is likely what he feels. Nevertheless, he should be treated as the exception and not the rule when it comes to quoting tweets.
The problem with this practice is that journalist are giving Twitter authority and power which translates in them garnering more influence over the news industry. They are in a sense validating what is posted there as fact and that the public should treat it as such. When in reality it should be opposite. The credibility of a journalist come from confirming information, quotes, and ensure that it’s reliable and accurate.
It seems that there are short cuts being made which is bad and is to the detriment of the profession. It’s telling everyone that if you post something on twitter and you say its news then it is. When in reality there is well structure process that journalist go through before publishing their articles. There’s are multiple editors that review their story and they are ripped apart before it hits the news stands.
A tweet on the other hand is more often purely an emotional response that come in the spur of the moment cram together in 2 minutes within a few hundred characters. The problem is that you can’t based a whole story around just a few hundred characters because more often than not your are inferring what people are feeling instead going straight to the source and asking them directly.