Monday, April 22, 2013

The Matthew Keys Firing, Journalism and Social Media

Matthew Keys, the deputy social media editor for Reuters, has been let go (Mr. Keys' description of that event is here). As with all things like this, discerning the truth will take some time. We don't have Reuters side, and most likely won't until the union grievance is resolved.

The details listed on his Tumblr post give me pause, though. It seems Reuters' beefs centered around his Twitter postings surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings. Each item seems to have a logical rebuttal, which always raises my eyebrows. I can sense there are gaps here, but there's not enough detail yet to read between the proverbial lines.

One thing, though, I wonder about is how this affects Twitter's relationship with journalism. It seems that Mr. Keys mostly aggregated information from police scanners, as well as other tweets. This is an endeavor that makes accuracy tough. Yet, I'd argue, there's deep value. Yes, we, as citizens and media consumers, need to recognize the spurious nature of these moments. But the barrage of data helps ensure that the truth comes forth. Yes, it needs to be sorted through. Yes, there will be disinformation and misinformation. Activities like aggregation helps in that sifting process. Plus, it gives us a place to verify the accuracy of past reporting when looking at the next event. Someone with a history of mis/disinformation should, theoretically, immediately be suspect the next round.

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