London, United Kingdom – April 2013 – Journalists used to report the majority of breaking news, but social media has revolutionized the way that many headlines are now reported. With a click of a Smartphone camera and a few more flicks of the finger, a bystander can capture news as it happens and then post it to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Within a short amount of time, that content has the potential to go "viral" and reach people across the world.
While there are many advantages to this, there are also some disadvantages. During the early 1900s, journalists narrowly viewed objectivity as facts without interpretation or opinion. This has slowly evolved throughout the last century to allow writers a certain amount editorial independence, but journalists are still bound by a strict code of ethics to report news truthfully and impartially; however, the average person isn’t bound by the same set of rules.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyday citizens are lying or reporting false information when they post news through social media forums, but what they post and how they post it is more likely to be coloured by their personal belief system. Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the New York Times, has called social media a "double-edged sword," explaining that it often "perpetuated inaccuracies but then quickly worked to correct them." So, although something may be reported inaccurately, there is an “entire world of public editors” that tends to correct the misinformation quickly and sometimes quite brutally.
In an effort to help manage the news so that it is viewed impartially and fairly, the newly launched website, Unbiasly.com, has developed a platform where users can access information from both traditional journalistic sources and various social media sites. CompuTimes has touted the website as an "evolution of news where normal people can have as much influence as the media and events can be looked at both objectively and subjectively."
Founder of Unbiasly.com, Devin Dixon, explained that the site was designed to "give people a full perspective of current events by allowing them to compare traditional media reports with social media posts. It allows members to take control of what they read and then rate the quality and objectivity or subjectivity of the piece."
It seems rather obvious that social media has revolutionized the way that current events are reported and received by the general public, and this trend is likely continue to grow and evolve. The challenge for many readers will be discerning the truth and objectivity of the news as it is posted on various social media outlets.
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I [Devin] started Unbiasly because I realised the shift in direction in news as social media has become just as powerful as institutions. I also realized the problem with biased news reported by institutions and erroneous news reported by social media. Instead of the two forces fighting each other, I wanted to make a platform where they could compliment each.
"We are more than just the news...We are the objective and subjective.
We are what the media writes, we are what you think.
We stand for impartiality, fairness and truth
We are Unbiasly."