Journalism students should take qualifications in how to verify “Wild West” social media posts, it has been suggested.
Sky News head of content Cristina Nicolotti Squires, left, told the NCTJ’s journalism skills conference this morning anyone applying for a job with her who had such a qualification would be a “very strong candidate”.
Speaking during a debate on accuracy, objectivity and ethics at the event’s second day, held at Kingston University, Cristina discussed the difficulty of using social media posts as sources for stories, describing online platforms as a “Wild West with no frontiers and no verification”.
Cristina was joined on the panel by Kingston journalism professor Brian Cathcart and Belinda Goldsmith, editor-in-chief of the Thomson Reuters Foundations.
She said: “The thing I say to our journalists when there is that rush to get things done here, we’re really clear we want to be right and not first. First and wrong means absolutely nothing.
“Our role is to be the aggregator and verifier. That’s something I think journalists need to learn to do.”
Quizzed on whether she believed such skills should be taught on journalism courses, she responded: “Absolutely. If someone came to me and had a qualification in verification of social media, they’d be a very strong candidate for that job.”
Belinda agreed, adding: “It’s a real skill set.”