Ever wonder how much news copy is original? So do the people at Media Monitoring Africa.
Speaking at the Menell Media Conference, Media Monitoring’s William Bird announced that the organisation will be keeping a close eye on the use of wire copy and blatant word theft by news websites.
The online space is rife with repetition – with many news organizations subscribing to wire copy services such as Reuters, AFP and the South African Press Association (SAPA).
Bird said his organisation had built an online tool to track so-called “churnalism” and is in the process of testing it.
Media Monitoring is also planning to reward original journalism through a “badges” tool which would work in conjunction with news sites.
The tools could be a real boon for online readers – helping them to distinguish between those who provide original content and those who churn and turn copy.
Bird also spoke about wazimap.co.za – a tool that news organisations can use to provide additional data in reporting.
Links from the website can be embedded into news sites. It includes census data providing information down to the ward level.
Media law expert Dario Milo followed Bird’s presentation with some insightful detail on the pitfalls of news-making in the digital age.
The key take-away point is that tweets carry as much weight as published news copy. Therefore, it is important for journalists to treat tweets as they would a news story – by ensuring they are well sourced, checked and then checked again.
Another key point Milo made related to retweets. Like original content, legally you can be held liable for whatever you tweet. Therefore those Twitter disclaimers (“retweets aren’t endorsements”) aren’t worth the profiles they’re written on.
Milo also warned against what he called “stage directions” in news tweets. Those cheeky words following an asterisk and hashtags can land journalists in hot water. That would be #awkward – not to mention expensive.
-Dianne Hawker, Senior Multimedia Reporter, eNCA Online