Getting the News Out Quickly and Accurately

By Syamil Sapari, Diploma in Mass Communication | Republic Polytechnic

With the advancement of technology, news consumers no longer rely on a single media outlet for their source of news. The rise of citizen journalism, blogging and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, has also created a plethora of ways for the public to consume their news.

These were among the topics discussed at a panel session on the final day of All In! Young Writers Festival 2017. The annual event was held at *Scape and witnessed a record number of speakers this year.

Speakers at the “Digital Journalism: The Coming of Age” panel session noted an increase in the pace of news reporting as their readers now expect instant news updates. With these expectations, journalists face greater pressure to get their stories out quickly, and accurately.

PROVIDING INSIGHTS: Industry experts from Channel NewsAsia and Yahoo Singapore share their views on how journalism has changed with the evolution of technology. (Photo: Jasmine Lim Li Hua)

Ms Diane Leow, a digital producer at Channel NewsAsia, said: “With the greater amount of immediacy now where the public want timely updates, I think that it is essential to not only get the story first but to also get the story right.”

In a newsroom where everybody is competing against rivals to get the news out to their readers first, there is also a greater possibility that the information published by media outlets may change.

“If there is a mistake on print, it will remain there forever. When you see the newspaper, you will see the mistake staring right at you,” said Mr Nicholas Yong, a senior correspondent at Yahoo. “However, with online media, we can correct our mistakes, so that is one of the key differences between traditional print and online news reporting.”

Apart from accuracy, some news outlets may also sensationalise the social media teasers with the aim of garnering more views. This is known as click bait. Social media users may then share the information based on the teaser without reading the article or understanding the context, and hence cause unnecessary alarm or misinformation among the public.

“I think it is important to find the right balance when it comes to teasers,” said Mr Yong. “While you do not want your teasers to be misleading, you also want it to be attractive enough to compel readers into clicking to read the full story.”

With the rise in smartphone technology, news consumers could also be citizen journalists and bloggers. The barriers of entry are lower for this group but the public should be able to distinguish the difference. “Journalists are able to verify the facts from official sources, while bloggers do not have the authority to do so,” said Ms Leow. “There is a fine line between a journalist and a blogger.”