Twitter as Sources vs The Potter Box

The social media revolution that is Twitter is becoming a controversial issue in media and journalism. Some people believe that Twitter’s 140 character tweets aren’t reliable and quotable sources for journalism. On the other end of the spectrum Twitter is someone’s thought instantaneously. Okay so whose right? In theory, Twitter isn’t really all that different from a blog and blogs can be used for sources. Twitter is a way for anyone to put their thoughts into society. If I deem that person’s thought interesting enough to read then I follow them, if I don’t then I don’t follow them, it’s that simple. However, on a bigger spectrum I can’t make people I don’t like not follow me. On a social media site uncensored thoughts are posted and those could be held against you if those particular thoughts are broadcasted. The Potter Box has four steps: understanding the facts, outlining values, application of philosophical principles, and articulation of loyalties. Step one is to understand the facts.  Twitter are posts that contain 140 characters or less. These posts are instant and uncensored. Twitter is also used by the vast majority of society. Step two is to outline values. Truth is an important value for me, however I do respect people’s privacy. Using Twitter as a source can break both of those values. How do I know if that particular person is being truthful? I don’t. How do I know if I’m stepping into someone’s privacy? I don’t. Step three is applying philosophical principles. I identify mostly with Aristotle’s golden mean. His golden mean is balancing a middle ground of printing everything to printing nothing at all. Something is better than nothing. Step four is to articulate loyalties. My loyalty as a journalist is to the public to tell a story that is informative yet not overbearing with unnecessary details. I also believe my loyalty to the public includes not invading anyone’s privacy.  I believe that Twitter can be considered a source or statistic. However, I think the reporter needs to be cautious as to make sure what is being told is the truth and that nobody’s privacy is in jeopardy. Basically tell the truth but don’t harm anyone.


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