Monday, October 15, 2012

Is It Good Journalism To Report What You Find on Facebook?

When two wedding parties clashed at a Society Hill hotel and the rumble was caught on video, the story went global. Demand for information was intense.

When the families involved refused to speak, the Philadelphia Daily News went to the social media networks to find information about the two wedding parties. The paper reported that one of the brides' page on Pinterest "shows that she'd been contemplating a wedding with elements of love and beauty, not of violence and death. Photos on the page include a love message from the groom to the bride on her wedding shoe, flowers glued to Styrofoam balls, and the palms of four hands displaying the word F-O-R-E-V-E-R, spelled out in Scrabble tiles and a wedding band for the letter O."

They also published information from people's facebook pages and twitter feeds.

Is this an invasion of privacy? Or, are the media allowed to publish/air information from people's social media sites?

Is this good journalism or lazy reporting?


Sam Tighe said...

I wouldn't consider this an invasion of privacy. That being said, I think it's an extremely sleazy way to gather information, but seeing that you have a Facebook profile is like holding a steak in front of a starving dog, at some point it’s your own fault.

Facebook is a public site, when you post to it you’re broadcasting facts, pictures, opinions, and information about yourself. This isn’t some online secret diary; dozens (or in some cases hundreds) of people can see these blurbs - everyone from family members to distant acquaintances. If you’re putting the information out there, it’s up to you to censor yourself.

Is it good journalism? No. When you know you’re skirting around the general morals and ethics most people hold themselves to, then you’re probably doing something wrong. This isn’t some public figure that you suspect of fraud and this isn’t a crooked government, this is a private citizen. Sadly, it’s what sells. To some, poor ethics for a high-interest story is a good trade.

Bob Stewart said...

Generally speaking social media is fair game. Details, especially ones relevant to the story, have been shared with the public voluntarily and can be used. Terms of service vary from outlet to outlet, but none protect users from their information being shared with the general public.

In this case the reporter may have gone too far though. The bride wasn't charged in this incident. Meaning that legally she is just a witness. Her wedding reception was not even at the hotel, it was at Vie. It was a few guests from her wedding who got into the scuffle with the folks from a wedding reception that was at the hotel. The bride and groom are not responsible for what the guests do an hour after the affair ends. If the people involved were too drunk that is on the bartenders at Vie and the hotel.

The reporter was right to share the Facebook posts of the man who was charged. But innocent people should be left alone if they wish to have privacy.

Catherine Palmer said...

In a way I do believe that it is an invasion of privacy, but then I also see the other side as well. It was something that unraveled out of control and brought immediate attention. I don't really believe that the bride and other family members who weren't involved should be focused on, but i guess the event itself was something to write about. So generally speaking, no, it was not an invasion of privacy at the time it was being recorded and the fight broke out...but then in the after math if people are focusing on people who were not involved and commenting them on social networking sites...then yes, that is an invasion of privacy.

Ed. B said...

I believe that the public is all game. However, as others have been pointing out, what separates good from bad journalism is rather thin. Using social media to find readily available information is common among writers. What you put out there is fair game to society as a whole. It's when someone uses that information in such a useless manner, is what makes it bad journalism. In this case, she was expressing her feelings in a public place. Nothing was taken out of context, so it doesn't seem "immoral" in any way.

Anonymous said...

I cannot say whether or not this is bad or good journalism nor can I say its lazy reporting. The journalist who wrote on the story wanted to give the inquiring minds the spew on what actually happened at this wedding. I personally did not find the incident important, not until I heard that someone actually died. This information became important to me at this point.
As far as whether or not this is an invasion of privacy when reporters delves into people private lives that is put on social media or public access, I say not. When information is so easily access through social media or public access, I say you become open game.
Sakina B.

Mark Valeriano said...

The media is most certainly aloud to post this information. It is not like they decoded some website or hacked in to get the information. It is free to the public what people post on the web. Unless they have it set to private, but it seems like they had the information out in the open. I mean if they post things irrelevant to the situation then that is kind of a waste, but anything that has to go along with the story is fair game!

Meredith Thomas said...

I don't believe this is an invasion of privacy, but I do believe that this is a trashy way of receiving information for a story that is absurd to begin with. The fact that the Daily News found the Pinterest page of the one bride is ridiculous. Of course every bride wants a perfect wedding and has a dream of what everything will look like. I would consider this journalism extremely lazy and as Sam mentioned earlier, a "sleazy way to gather information." It is unfortunate that this happened between two weddings and that a life was lost, but the fact that it was actually reported on and Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter pages were looked at and the information was published is ridiculous and irrelevant to the actual occurrence.

Elle Alva said...

I do not think the kid who posted it thought let me make news and post it on facebook. I believe the kid woke up head the commotion and began recording to show ppl on facebook how reckless adults can be. I do not think facebook should be used to report the news but many people use it as a sharing tool for videos, news, updates, pictures etc. Since we are all connected to each other we receive the news of our friends social life's as well the news around us.

Moumita Ghosh said...

I do not think that this was an invasion to privacy when the two wedding parties clashed and the fight broke out. But it was just ridiculous and lazy journalism to go and get information from one of the bride's pinterest and facebook and twitter accounts and publish that!

Tsega Tesfaye said...

I don't think it is an invasion of privacy especially when it comes to social networks. Social networking isn't meant to be private things are meant to be shared. Of course, I don't think the kid thought that a journalist was going to actually use his video and make a story out of it. Although it was an interesting story, I do agree with Moumita. It was very lazy of the journalist to just take information like that. Should be a little more wiser next time.