February 28, 2008 by Colin
I think we’ve all noticed a rush to Facebook as a source for journalists, especially when someone under the age of 25 suffers an untimely death.
In Europe, sites like Bebo are providing similar information.
Which is why the British Press Complaints Commission is looking into how journos use social networks and content found online in their reporting. The essential question is: when can information and media posted online be repurposed by journalists (and others)?
More information can be found in an interview between BBC reporter Chris Vallance and the head of the PCC.
The indicators of Facebook addiction are easy to spot. The first article reporting the tragedy usually includes:
- a candid low-res photos of the victim, bylined “Facebook”
- quotes from several of the victim’s friend
- some mention of the victim’s aspirations
- a reference to a recent trip, party or getaway with friends
Subsequent updates often mention group and school affiliations, reference to rememberance sites on Facebook, and favourite bands. Oh – and speculation from “friends” about the role of substance abuse, inappropriate or ill-considered behaviour, or school group dynamics in the death.
In short, all the personal detail and reaction that reporters have always found hard to get – and mainly by doorstopping a grieving family minutes after they learned of the death.