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Facebook and other sites used for news gathering?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ASeid, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. ASeid

    ASeid New Member

    Seeing a thread started on another board in regards to the dangers of Myspace and sites of the like, I was reminded of something I have been curious about since college a couple of years ago. While working at the collegiate newspaper, and nearing the end of the semester, there was a brawl that broke out involving the football team. One of the football players ended up being stabbed and the accused in the situation was a non-athlete. The accused came to me at the paper one day in fear because, as he said, the football players were now regularly threatening him. To further his case he came in with pages from his Facebook wall that were plain-as-day threats from football players. The majority of the case was handled over the spring and was followed logically by the paper as the legal process unfolded, but to my knowledge the info. from those Facebook pages were never printed in our paper. My question is, should that information be used at any point in the process? Can it be used in that process?
  2. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Yes it can be used. Yes it should be used.

    Facebook and MySpace are legitimate means through which to make contact with/gather information from sources.
  3. CollegeJournalist

    CollegeJournalist Active Member

    I've used Facebook to get quotes from guys. When the school I cover hired a new coach last year, we used Facebook to talk to some of the guys from the coach's former team. Of course, I had to confirm first that those were legit sites and not a fan making the site, but it wasn't too hard.

    I don't know about using stuff that is posted on the sites or anything like that, but if it was really substantial to an investigation or a story (such as the story about the MySpace site of Tony Dungy's son), I don't think I'd see a problem with it.
  4. The only issue is if they keep the information private (meaning you would need to add them as a friend to get this information). If their site is public, then anything on there should be fair game. I'd recommend taking a screenshot if it is anything bad for proof, fwiw.
  5. RossLT

    RossLT Guest

    When I was in college I tracked down our number one football recruit on Myspace and got a feature on him by emailing. He gave me his number and I called him and was the first person in the city to get a story on him.
  6. Cansportschick

    Cansportschick Active Member

    One of our television stations here in Halifax has set up Facebook to gather comments about topics such as teen violence. They read the comments on air. Facebook is used to generate discussion, but this is the first I have heard of Facebook being used this way.
  7. SheaSeals

    SheaSeals Member

    do people even still use myspace, or is it obsolete?
  8. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    I use Facebook all the time, both to contact sources, and to see what is happening regarding their teams or their lives. It's perfectly legal and perfectly normal... granted being "friends" with many people, I shouldn't expect to find something earth shattering.

    I'd question why some journalists aren't at least looking there for information, it's where people are... especially those in the preps/college ages.
  9. txscoop

    txscoop Member

    Using quotes off Facebook and MySpace and emails is wrong. It's like taking a quote off a press release. How do you know the person that typed the quote was actually them?
  10. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Generally, if you know someone well enough, you can tell from an e-mail or private message if it was them and you'd generally report how you contacted that person in your story. If there's something on a random Facebook page, you'd probably get the information, then try to confirm or deny elsewhere. The mere existence of an imposter may be newsworthy as well.

    Though I would encourage trying to catch a person in person, or at the very least on a phone in real time, I don't think using electronic communications is necessarily "wrong" either.
  11. txscoop

    txscoop Member

    Its not only wrong.. It's lazy
  12. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    I wish I could go back to being that idealistic.
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