IPI evaluates role of social media in news
The China Post news staff–Speakers at the International Press Institute’s Annual World Congress and 61st General Assembly in Taipei stressed the importance of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter in both the gathering and dissemination of news, but also called for the continued use of conventional news standards as a safeguard.
The Sep. 25-27 International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress and General Assembly in Taiwan brings together over 250 participants from around the world. A workshop focusing on the relationship between social networks and the revolutionary changes in North Africa and the Middle East was held yesterday.
Information published on social networks must be verified, Charles M. Sennott, executive editor and vice president of GlobalPost, an online news service based in the U.S. city of Boston, told his audience and participants in the workshop, adding that posting of views on newly established social websites must conform to conventional journalistic standards.
All journalists must evaluate the accuracy of information post on social networks and take verification seriously, he added.
Hossam El Sokkari, head of audience for Yahoo Middle East at Yahoo, maintained that both social networks and the conventional media are indispensable, calling them mutually complementary. The social networks were quite well-developed during the early stages of the Egyptian Revolution, when news clips about police persecution of common people found their way out of the country, but they could not act alone, the former BBC Arabic chief said, adding only when the traditional media, such as the television and the newspaper, followed the lead of the social networks by reporting more stories, the government took notice.
Later, when local reporters were summoned by the government, television news programs went off the air, and newspapers were shut down by the government because of their unpleasant news stories, the social networks came to their aid, he said. Now, the Egyptian government is under great pressure from the social networks to give the media greater freedom of the press, he noted.
Shatha al-Harazi, a female human rights correspondent for Yemen Times, a newspaper based in Sana’a, Yemen, is herself a beneficiary of the pervasive power of the social networks, which she said had made her country visible to the world at large.
Calling her eventual arrival in Taiwan on Sept. 25 after the cancellation of flights by Qartar Airways in view of the turbulent situation in Yemen a miracle, Shatha al-Harazi recalled the enthusiastic responses to the news stories she posted on the Facebook in 2007, when none of the international media was paying any attention to her home country although thousands staged protests in the streets.
The Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was a total stranger to her although she had been writing news for five years after her graduation from college, but came to know to about her through Facebook, she said
The Yemeni leaders summoned and threatened her, but she was not scared, according to the Yemeni investigative journalist, who said the president was supposed to serve the people, not the other way around.
Shatha al-Harazi sees the social networks as a great help in her work, encouraged by her past success in soliciting both photographs and information on social networks.