9 Jul 2010

Credible news organisations will survive

When Wikileaks began emerging as one of the world's leading sources of breaking news, it got me questioning whether or not major news organisations would survive.

I referred to this in an earlier blog post. What wasn’t clear was whether or not people trusted wikileaks or was it just the case that people leaked information there and then everyone else waited for the story to be verified by the news organizations they trust.

And just the other day, my old boss was in town. He's head of news and current affairs at RTE, Ireland's state broadcaster (Sweden's equivalent is SVT) so I had to ask him the question.

He was quite happy to see sites like Wikileaks and quite confident that RTE and the other trustworthy news organisations would actually thrive due to sites like Wikileaks.

Organisations like RTE are regarded highly credible and trustworthy. They never pay anyone for leaking a story to them. Paying a source lessens their credibility so they just don't do it. But leaking news to a web site means that you might just get a few dollars/euros for your troubles.

For the record, I have no idea what the policy at Wikileaks is when it comes to payment of sources but there is clearly an expanding amount of opportunities to leak a story and get paid for it now. But when it comes down to trust, we don't trust too many people these days and we will still rely upon the trusted news sources.

In fact, news organisations are finding new ways to utilize the tools available on the net to ensure better, faster and more accurate reporting. One particular tool is emerging where an alarm is sent to the news organization if one word happens to suddenly be used alot on Twitter.

Take the word ‘earthquake’ for example. If the word ‘earthquake’ pops up a certain amount of times on Twitter over a short period of time, a newsroom will be informed. The newsroom will also be given data as to where the main cluster of tweets is occurring using that word and it will also give you a list of people who are 'live' on Skype in that region at that time so news organisations can start ringing around and verifying the story.

The speed and interactivity on the net today, if used correctly, might actually give us more trustworthy news.

It might however put some of the less credible organisations under threat.

Colm O'Callaghan is JG Communication’s Head of Operations so when he’s not blogging he’s looking after the day to day business at this wonderful communicaitons agency.
So, who’s JG Communication? We’re Sweden’s largest and, we think, ‘leading’ communications agency in Sweden. We help our clients have conversations with the people that matter most to them using the tools that matter most to us, words, sound and vision.

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