Social media: From tweets to articles


In recent news, Harry Potter star Emma Watson announced her recent casting as Belle in Disney’s upcoming, live-action movie “Beauty and the Beast.”

As I read the Entertainment Weekly article, I wondered how did she release the news? Watson made the news public via Facebook as fans cheered across the Internet.

I, a young and ambitious journalist, had to wonder if this was acceptable in the news media. Is it ethically correct for journalists to use social media as reliable and trustworthy sources when reporting?

Continuing my search for answers, I found another example of social media being used as news sources. Surprise, surprise; Watson is the shining star in an “Entertainment Tonight” article.

This time, Watson used Twitter. Fans constantly tweet at A-list celebrities such as Watson and, on occasion, receive replies from them. It appears that Watson was having a little Q&A session through tweets, speaking about her HeForShe campaign and giving young women advice.

I concluded that social media as news sources are not entirely unethical. Watson has her social media accounts displayed for public viewing. Moreover, Watson has given consent for us to see these updates; allowing us to share and converse about them.  Because there is permission from the original source, a journalist can use Watson’s tweets and posts as fuel for a news story.

However, what if this consent was never given? What if an Einstein computer hacker helped a journalist enter right into Watson’s Facebook and essentially leak her private posts?

If this were the case, the journalist would be ethically unjust. A reporter cannot simply use information without consent from the source and without verifying that information.