Is Facebook ‘plundering’ the new phone-hacking? – Press Gazette
Is Facebook ‘plundering’ the new phone-hacking?
21 February 2012
By Andrew Pugh
Journalists increasingly reliant on ‘plundering’ Facebook
Most reporters believe that ‘if you put something in the public domain then it’s fair game’
MEN news editor blasts ‘shortcut journalism’
A new study has raised questions over journalists’ increasing reliance on social networks such as Facebook and compared the “plundering” of web pages to phone-hacking..
Glenda Cooper’s study looked into the ethical implications of “plundering webpages without permission” and the subsequent decline of the “death knock”.
“When a crime or a tragedy occurred in the (mythic) old days, as a hack to get your hands on that coveted photo album, to delve deep into a person’s private life, to get that key detail to raise your story from the mundane to the compelling, it would involve some legwork on the ground (either from yourself, or if you worked for a rich enough paper, a substitute rookie or agency reporter) performing those journalistic rites of passage: the doorstep and the death knock,” said Cooper.
She added: “But is the increasing use of social networking sites as the first port of call when a story breaks – to find photographs, information about people’s lives, frank views they may have expressed – the other end of a (very long) continuum to phone hacking?
“Such sites have proved an invaluable short cut for hard pressed desks and reporters, both broadsheet and tabloid, trying to find information at short notice on tight budgets. But what ethical questions does plundering webpages without permission of their originators raise in modern day journalism?
“While there can be no comparison between phone hacking and use of such sites – one illegal and intruding on completely private messages, it is worth considering this: there were 800 phone hacking victims at latest estimate. As of July 2011, there are 29.9m Facebook accounts in the UK.
“What kind of journalism are we getting if every part of your life is only a mouseclick away from being splashed across the front page of a national paper?”
Reporters that get sent on death knocks tend to be the “youngest and least experienced reporters for local papers or agencies”, not only because this is a “job that no one else wants to do” but because they are seen as more likely to get the story, said Cooper.