With the scope of scholastic journalism broadening, there is one thing that remains sure for both journalists and their audiences: skepticism is important. In “Study: People view information on Twitter as less credible than on news websites” by Jeff Sonderman for Poynter.com, the author explains a study that confirms that people are more or less skeptical of their news depending on the outlet where they get it: “Experiments gave readers news in three different forms: A tweet from @nytimes and a short or longer story on nytimes.com. The content was the same, but readers found the tweets less credible and less important.”
As consumers of media, readers must be skeptical of the information put in front of them. “Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study” by Michael Hilzik for the Los Angeles Times, the author dives into the tactic of manipulation which is carried out by so many corporations, including big tobacco: “When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit, or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society.” In order to not be deceived, Hilzik says readers must practice skepticism: “The effort needs to begin at a young age, he says. “You really need to be teaching third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders that some people lie. And why do they lie? Because some people are greedy.” Citizens, when being used as sources, must also understand where information that they provide may go. Arizona State University explains that “The informality of social networking sites makes it easier for potential sources to misunderstand your intentions and the impact of cooperating.” Both journalists and sources must be clear with their intentions.
In the same way that audience members must be skeptical of what they see, hear and read, journalists must be skeptical of what they are presented as well. In the Social Media Guidelines for Student Journalists from Arizona State University, the guidelines outline how confirming sources and information is even more important in the age of digital information gathering: “Recognize that use of social networking sites is just one way of gathering information. It is no substitute for face-to-face interviews and digging for information. Work offline to confirm information gathered via social networking sites. Seek through every means possible to interview sources in person or by phone to verify identities, claims and statements.” Some journalists may also find themselves jaded, thinking that readers don’t want in-depth stories anymore, but instead short pieces with lots of pictures for engagement. “Shorter isn’t better, photos aren’t always alluring and deep digging pays off, recent report concludes” by Rick Edmonds for Poynter.com contradicts that statement, in which Rosenstiel says: “Once a publisher has data about what content they are producing and what’s working and not working journalistically, the next step is try(ing) to change what they are doing to do more work that readers value inside key coverage areas and spend less effort on what isn’t working.”