Journalists can be often accused of producing and spreading ‘fake news’; usually by those being in charge when the journalists are addressing “disagreeable” topics in relation to them.
In fact, all journalists – and ‘traditional journalists’ in particular – are trying to fight misinformation; especially those working for ’quality-media’ and public-service-media-institutions. Traditional journalists are rather obliged by their professional code of ethics and their institutions to do proper research. They have high ethical standards and rules to avoid introducing and spreading of misinformation as well as of information that can be misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Proper research takes a lot of time: checking facts and figures, and re-checking every bit of information is must in journalism. However, doing research often impedes the fast publication of breaking news, which can be a big competitive disadvantage. Digital sources can therefore often be seen as ideal for quick and successful journalistic research. Can social media be part of this “digital toolkit” for traditional journalists?
Although social media is seen as a medium that makes new trends and topics available in a very fast way, the quality of data and the level of biased and misguided information can be against the requirements of proper journalism. Therefore, traditional journalists might use social media platforms to pick up certain trends, but cannot rely on them as information sources. Information on social media is not always verified as well as the source of information that can be unknown. Furthermore, social media promote the creation of “filter bubbles” meaning that users tend to surround themselves with similar information. At the same time, social media platforms are an important ‘market-place’ to solicit traditional journalism ‘products’ as they reach new generation of readers and across their usual ‘circles’ e.g., beyond country borders. All in all, the increasing consumption of news on social media proves problematic for a traditional journalist.
EUNOMIA is the silver-lining promoting critical media literacy skills of social media users/ readers whereas, for traditional journalism, this solution has the potential of opening a new area of trustworthy information exchange. For the very first time, the users themselves are enabled to assess and vote the trustworthiness of social media information based on users’ driven indicators. For assessing trustworthiness, the source of information is considered a key indicator. Therefore, EUNOMIA’s toolkit will encourage users to provide sources thus, promoting the work of traditional media institutions as they are still seen as the most reliable source for important and proper information (Eurobarometer, 2017). Furthermore, through EUNOMIA, the traditional journalists will now be able to track each bit of information found in social media down to the very source, and they will be supported by the community in evaluating the quality and trustworthiness of a given information.