Sunday, November 29, 2009
Twitter as an original source
Criticism of the Oregonian's reporting on Ted Wheeler's ski injury sparked a Twitter discussion on the ethics of quoting Twitter posts.
Ian Malkasian (@ianmal) wrote "running stories w/ twitter as a primary source is risky & in my mind poor journalistic judgment." In another Tweet he posed the question"in the absence of no other corroborating info. is the twitter stream of an elected official on the record?"I re-Tweeted the question and got a few responses.
Betsy Richter (@betsywhim) replied "yes. In the Wheeler case, you have the photograph, which corroborates his story, plus the Tweets from his wife. plus he's already gone on record as stating communicating via Twitter/Facebook fosters government transparency/good comms practice."
T.A. Barnhart wrote "Ted thinks so."
Ronald Morgan (@rhyzome) answered "Um, yeah, as is an email, phone call or any other media."
Suzi Steffen (@SuziSteffen) directed me to an episode of OPB's(@opb) Think Out Loud (@thinkoutloudopb) from October, in which Ted Wheeler, who was a guest on the show, discussed his thoughts on the the benefits of using social media such as Twitter and Facebook. "When you read the Tweets, they come from me directly, warts and all.... What you see on Twitter is what you get. That is your county chair." He goes on to say that Tweets are governed by the same public records laws as e-mail and other public communications. "I just assume that everything that I put out there is public information..." he explained. He did note that the law has not been able to keep up with technology, so this may not always be the case.
I'm interested to hear more thoughts and opinions on this topic.