2
0
1
9

More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

“When journalists cover tweets from the president — as they often do — they almost always fact-check the claims Trump makes in his tweets. The same must go for social media posts from the public.”

I predict we’ll see more social media posts in news stories — but still without the necessary verification of who their authors really are.

Social media posts increasingly make their way into news stories as sources — a new vox pop — representing public opinion on everything from celebrity drama to presidential debate performances. A recent study suggests that the use of social media content in the news has nearly doubled over the past five years. These posts come overwhelmingly from Twitter, even though less than a quarter of U.S. adults use the platform.

Including social media posts in stories as representations of public opinion offers at least the possibility to cast the American public as the protagonist in news stories, as Danna Young called for in her prediction last year. Unfortunately, my research suggests that for now, social media posts are mostly used in political news to further propagate the game frame.

Previous predictions have called for an increase in automated fact-checking, but we also need to automate social media verification. Unfortunately, we’re nowhere near that. The first step is to integrate social media verification at all.

I’ve interviewed journalists about their use of social media posts from the public in news stories. Journalists told me they select posts based on alerts from DataMinr, by following hashtags, or even after seeing them pop up on their own Twitter timelines. None of them mentioned verifying the authenticity of the post before incorporating it into their reporting. Given the outsized attention that some journalists pay to Twitter when determining what’s newsworthy, I see little reason to think that the use of tweets in news stories will decline in 2019.

I’m not contending that journalists skip verification on social media posts out of laziness. My suspicion is that journalists think of tweets as content, not as sources.

When journalists cover tweets from the president — as they often do — they almost always fact-check the claims Trump makes in his tweets. The same must go for social media posts from the public. The authenticity of their account must be verified, and the veracity of their claim (if it’s not straight opinion) must be established.

Verification would also work to mitigate the risk of news outlets embedding social media posts from bots, trolls, or other streams of manipulation into their stories. Tweets from what are now known Russian troll accounts found their way into news stories in major outlets like The Washington Post, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and Vox. This is an opening that can be exploited, as Nick Diakopoulos pointed out in his prediction last year.

Since embedding tweets straight from Russian propaganda accounts didn’t seem to prompt newsrooms to institute verification procedures, I predict 2019 will bring more news stories that unintentionally amplify malicious misinformation. At a time when the press and journalists are under attack and trust in news is at an all-time low, it should go without saying that these verification steps are vital.

We obviously can’t rely on platforms like Facebook or Twitter to validate the authenticity of accounts, nor can journalists expect to rely on them for data to do so on their own. As a first step, journalists should incorporate standard verification procedures into the social media reporting process by at least attempting to contact users, verify their authenticity, and perhaps even seek permission to use their posts in news stories.

Once journalists begin to do this, we can learn what the process of social media verification looks like. Only then can productive partnerships between news outlets, journalists, journalism researchers, and computer scientists be forged to address the problem of social media verification at scale. I hope that if my prediction comes true, it will shepherd in much-needed collaboration on solving the social media verification problem.

Shannon McGregor is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah.

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Hearken   Pivot to people

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses