It is fascinating to see mainstream media making ‘news’ out of tweets and Facebook updates. Take for instance, this news piece on The Times of India, that quotes Shah Rukh Khan, from his tweet, on his stand about the pathetic state of Indian hockey.
Shashi Tharoor’s tweets making news is old news already, anyway.
Last week, Bangalore Mirror quoted a Kannada director based his Facebook status updates, on how he’s not getting the cooperation from his leading lady for promoting a new film of his.
Note that in all these cases, the intended target audience was not the media. The quotes and information was not shared with the media. It was shared with the rest of the world (mighty broad target, I agree), which merely includes media.
But, what mainstream media has done is to add their ‘reporting’ to an otherwise already-reported (directly by the concerned person) piece of news and publish it in the name of news.
Now, here’s the catch – a tweet is shared with a group of people (followers). Others can see that too, via a simple twitter search. Same thing for a blog post. In case of a Facebook update, given the fact that it is a walled-garden or you need to be a ‘friend’ of the person involved, it could be a lot more private than a tweet or a blog post, which are open to anyone.
Given this background, is it right for mainstream media to ‘re-report’ tweets or status updates…or even blogs? Why am I asking this? Because, people cry wolf when their Flickr photos are being used in the print media or a online website, without permission or royalty (Examples one, two and three!) – doesn’t the same logic apply here too?
The point is that a print publication makes money through advertising and subscription (ok, the latter is on the wane, but that’s a different topic altogether). Its content is what it sells. If that content is lifted from a tweet or a blog post or a status update, isn’t it only legitimate that they seek permission from the user to republish that content as-is? Credit or royalty – that is up to the individual to decide, based on his perceived standing. Most of the times, a credit is attributed by print media – but shouldn’t that be the prerogative of the owner of the tweet/ status update/ blog post?
If they derive a story based on a tweet/ status update, but not quote them as-is, I still think they’re in the clear. But reproducing tweets or passages from blog post? While I’m sure the celebritydom will be more than glad that they’re being quoted, how about normal people – the aam junta/ mango people variety?
Right? Wrong? Grey?