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Myspace as a reporting tool

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jeff Gluck, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Jeff Gluck

    Jeff Gluck Member

    I'm sure I'm not the first one to bring this up, but I couldn't find a thread on this specific topic.

    Last week, a cheerleader at one of our local schools died and the reporter from the news side found her myspace page. He quoted from comments on her myspace page and even used her own words to describe herself in the story.

    That got me thinking about what an interesting reporting tool myspace has become. In fact, the next day, I searched for the page of a softball player I was doing a feature on (I didn't tell her I saw the page, just made notes). One thing she really loved, according to her page, was movies.

    So when I asked her what she liked to do outside softball, like movies or anything, she immediately jumped on it and started telling me all this stuff about movies. The best quotes from the whole interview were from that exchange.

    I can see where this could be taken one step further. Since so many people have myspace pages now, it would be easy to keep tabs on what is going on with a player or team via myspace. It could range from staying in touch with a subject to contacting them for an interview.

    We aren't supposed to be friends with the people we cover. But what about the ethics of being myspace friends?
  2. Flash

    Flash Guest

    This is going to be fun to read ...

    Of course, while I have a myspace page and recognize the benefits of the site and its copycats, we do have to be wary of pseudo pages. For instance, during the Olympics, Johnny Weir denied the page associated with his name was created by or associated with him.
    I'm glad it worked out for your story but is there a phrase I can use similar to caveat emptor?
  3. Jeff Gluck

    Jeff Gluck Member

    OK, to be fair, I'm not talking about pro athletes or superstar college athletes who might have fake pages. I'm talking about high school/college athletes.
  4. pallister

    pallister Guest

    Well, as long as you don't REALLY want to be their friends.

    Seriousy, you may get some good info, but I'd be wary of trolling around the Myspace pages of minors. Even if you have the best intentions, it may look bad.

    Those quotes about the movies likely would have come up if you asked the girl what interests her off the field, what's unique about her, etc., questions I like to ask to get a better sense of what kind of person, not just athlete, I'm talking to.
  5. Jeff Gluck

    Jeff Gluck Member

    I don't want to be friends with a high schooler.

    However, I can't tell you how many profile features I've done where I go out there and I'm just fishing, fishing, fishing for something -- ANYTHING -- interesting or unique about the person. So myspace could offer some background to work with.

    On the other hand -- and I'm new to the whole myspace world -- it feels slimy to look at someone's page who you don't know, like you're spying on their life. But I guess that's what the big deal about myspace is in the first place.
  6. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Although I'm impressed someone is putting the time in to do some research ... I'm surprised sometimes by people who don't. Whenever I have an interview scheduled, the first thing I do is Google that name.
  7. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Oh as soon as the myspace haters see this, it's done.
  8. pallister

    pallister Guest

    Yes, in one sense, they're putting the page out there, so to speak, but I also see it as a cyber diary of sorts. Would you look at an athlete's diary if you could without them knowing it? Obviously, that's a rhetorical question, but I'm just trying to point out that this may be a questionable way of getting information that is, at best, quasi-public.
  9. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    that's why we come out at night, my dear. ;D

    i dunno, pall. in my experience, high schoolers, especially girls, often have a tendency to clam up any time you ask them a question. especially when their friends/teammates are around. so even if you ask them questions like that, you're not always liable to get a revealing answer that you can go with. other times, you can get some great quotes/background. but often, it's not the case with their age.
  10. pallister

    pallister Guest

    True. Teenagers don't normally say much, but that's one of the challenges of reporting is getting people to open up. Also, you can learn a lot about a kid by asking people close to them (famly, friends, etc.). If you can't, I'm not sure searching out their MySpace page is the way to go. It just doesn't seem like a proper info-gathering technique to me.
  11. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    but what about the idea that if someone puts something out there ont he Internet, it's fair game? doesn't mean you should quote it extensively, or abuse the information you have. but I mean, if someone hands you some evidence or information in most any other situation (that's not illegal or a bribe), you're not going to say, "well, this isn't mine. i have to get this information some other way" ... right? if it's on the Internet, it's out there. You still have to use professional judgment on what to use and how to use it, but if it's there, and they put it there, and you're not doing anything illegal (or unethical -- which i guess is what we're debating) to get that information ... i don't see how it's not fair game.
  12. PEteacher

    PEteacher Member

    it should be used like www.wikipedia.org -- as a resource, but not a final deal.
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