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100 articles – ‘Bringing out the worst in journalists’

A recent warning about the perils of journalists using Twitter as a forum to comment on each other's work has been selected by Khairun Hamid to be included in our '100 articles' project.

‘Bringing out the worst in journalists’ by Scott Stinson

We all know Twitter is a great tool for relaying news and opinion in a timely manner and to a mass audience. But what happens when the people writing the news lend their opinions on their peers’ work via this public forum?

War, probably.

Marking the occasion of Twitter’s recent fifth birthday, Canadian journalist Scott Stinson takes a look at the ongoing ‘trash talk’ within the journalism industry and how Twitter ‘has thrown what used to be an inside game out into the open.’ Journalists have increasingly taken to Twitter to voice their personal opinions and this can set a lot of them up for their own harsh criticism.

The beauty of Twitter is that this criticism can come from anybody – fellow journalists or a member of the general public. Twitter allows everyone to be a media critic and journalists need to be prepared to face the flak they may have previously been able to ignore. As Stinson puts it, ‘when a journalist takes a shot at a competitor, it will almost always reach them, eventually.’

One could argue that this may encourage ‘better’ journalism, in order to avoid public censure. However, it is more likely that the micro-blogging site will continue to facilitate the cattiness so often found in the journalism industry. I don’t think this Twit-for-tat will end any time soon. If you can’t take the heat, don’t post the tweet.

Khairun Hamid is studying a Master of Global Communications at La Trobe University and is part of the 2011 upstart editorial team.

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