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Sky News chief calls for new qualification in verifying social media

CristinaJournalism 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”.

Her comments come after former regional editor Steve Dyson highlighted the ‘speed versus accuracy’ debate in an HTFP blog post this week.

Cristina was joined on the panel by Kingston journalism professor Brian Cathcart and Belinda Goldsmith, editor-in-chief of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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.”

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  • November 27, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I don’t watch Sky News, so I’m probably missing something screamingly obvious in the above story, but how does having the ability to verify social media differ in any material respect from having the ability to verify any other potential story from any other source, ie. possessing the basic skills set and, crucially, legal nous which anyone calling themselves a trained journalist ought to have? This seems to be like saying you’d look favourably on a candidate who was qualified in verifying a telephone conversation, or a postcard. But as I say, I don’t watch Sky News; perhaps they get all their stuff from social media, so other forms of information-gathering don’t apply.

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