Twitter jeopardizes media’s responsibility and credibility

One mis-tweet has me seriously questioning the ethical safety of Twitter in the hands of irresponsible journalists. ABC employee Terry Moran and two others tweeted that President Obama called Kanye West a jackass off the record.

Between hearing this comment and his fingers hitting the keyboard, Moran made the decision that he was at liberty to share an off-record comment with the world. I’m not really sure what brought him to that conclusion. To me it seems he wanted props for a dirty scoop.

Social media like Twitter eliminate the natural checks and balances of a traditional news source. Before the Internet, information had several checkpoints to cross before publishing. Now, anyone with Internet access can break news. Journalists are in privileged position we must uphold in spite of this technology.

Ironically enough, I would not have seen the tweet nor heard of Obama’s comment if not by other news sources. The tweet was deleted quickly, but news sources reporting the tweet spread the word.

This incident also makes it clear that any president is under heightened scrutiny, even during idle chatter. Public figures have a responsibility to be cautious of what they say. At the same time, journalists have a responsibility to practice their profession ethically.

What do you think? Did Moran cross the line?

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4 responses to “Twitter jeopardizes media’s responsibility and credibility

  1. I don’t think that what Moran did exemplified journalistic integrity by any means and I can’t help but think that there are quite a few more important things to be reporting on right now. However, I also think that Obama’s a (VERY) public figure and should be conscious of what he’s saying in the presence of journalists.

    I wouldn’t say that Moran’s tweet was unethical. But it wasn’t really worthwhile either.

    • I was reading your post and realized myself that I never even saw the Tweet. Like you, I only heard about from other sources. I think it would be interesting to know how many people saw the actual Tweet compared to the number of people who only heard about. It’s true, everything you do on the web lives forever. Journalists do need to be more careful about what they say and do online. Even if it’s accidental, their screw-ups could haunt them forever.

  2. I agree with you Ann — that was a silly tweet for Moran to risk his career over. He should have thought twice and maybe tweeted something more important.

  3. Okay. It was bad form, and the guy probably shouldn’t have done this. It’s sort of the nature of the beast, though, don’t you think? The whole point of Twitter is to get information out there quickly to generate a response. I doubt that this was the response he was hoping for, but it’s a response nonetheless. As for ruining media’s credibility, I think it’s pretty well shot anyhow. There are too many gossip publications out there, and almost everyone hates the media for one reason or another. Even in the more trusted publications make mistakes, and they’ve got to work hard fix them. Even something as small as using an e instead of an a in Andersen warrants a formal public apology by the author/editor/whoever. This definitely didn’t help Moran’s career. He’s made a pretty big blunder, and he’s gong to have to work really hard to earn that trust back.

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