Are you listening?
Not everybody writes about news or current events, but those who do are writing history. Every post and page is its own legacy whether it has one reader or millions of readers. It touches [and taints] whomever it reaches which means it also touches [and taints] history itself. It also has the power to touch [and taint] the future by way of forming ideas, opinions and even deep-rooted beliefs.
What “history” are you creating? Are you being socially responsible?
Prolific Little Historians
With so many people blogging and/or using social media, it is important that we stop for a moment and reflect on what the goal is and to be certain, you should have a goal.
On WordPress alone there are more than 71,813,383 blogs with more than 35 million posts being made a week. Add TUMBLR, Blogger and a slew of other available platforms and one can easily see that vast quantities of perspectives and history are being aggregated at a tremendous rate with nothing but continued astronomical growth in sight.
Can you imagine what this means with regard to the social sharing of all of this data?
You have the ability to mold minds at your finger tips in a way that you never had available before. Ask yourself what kind of service [or disservice] your efforts are contributing.
Accurate news reporting and coverage of other current or topical events is critical to a healthy society. It can create peace and it can create war. What we are fed as a people and what we ourselves feed each other, affects us in myriad ways; from how we perceive people and situations to how we feel about them and more.
What we write, what we report on, really does become a part of history and it affects someone, sometimes many someones, whether or not what we have written and reported on is true, fair or balanced. Just because you get to bow out at the end doesn’t mean your impact bows out with you.
What are you leaving behind?
Being a writer, or even just a prolific poster on social media — whether you are paid to be or not, is a heavy responsibility; both socially and morally. We can do better and we can become better at documenting, sharing and preserving — with accuracy, history, as it happens.
A Source for Sore Eyes
Whether your sources are documents or people it doesn’t matter when it comes to being reliable. What does matter is the pure unbiased vetting of the information it provides and the source itself. Just because it was published somewhere or said or done by someone you know [or even trust] does not make it real or factual. It is your job to get to the facts. It is also your job to report on more than one biased side of any given story.
Understanding the difference between a news piece and an editorial is important, but even in an editorial one should offer opposing thought.
Most that write about news and current events do so because they care about the subject, so that care should extend to the quality of the sources you are endorsing, because endorsing is exactly what you are doing when you present something or someone to an audience as an authority. That’s why in the online writing world they are called, “authority links”.
Vet This, Time That
Traditionally a good rule of thumb when vetting information and sources is to find 2, 3 or more collaborative [credible] sources. When determining the credibility of a source, you must also keep in mind your intended audience. Be sure to find sources that are still familiar with the average reader. If you offer up sources that sound weird or look odd or merely unfamiliar, chances are regardless of how credible the source may be, your potential reader may not think so at a glance.
Writing for “real-time” can also be difficult if it is not what you do on a daily basis. To report real significant news daily is a real J.O.B. and if you haven’t the time, your attempt may not be worth it. You can however, write on timely topics that have a little longer shelf-life allowing you more time to research and write and still be current. As a bonus, covering timely topics can increase your visibility on search engines and create additional website traffic and help SEO.
The Moral of the Story?
Stick to the facts and when sharing opinion, be sure that it is clear it is merely your opinion. Do not present opinion as fact and back-up everything with credible sources. Remember, our worlds are as small as we make them and if we surround ourselves with only people and things that confirm our own opinions we are not being fair or balanced and instead become just as bad as FOX news and the other mainstream entities we purportedly wish to drown out.