Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief talks technology in journalism
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 17:02
On the topic of the business of journalism, Matthew Winkler is a man of many opinions and as co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, he is an expert in the subject.
Winkler shared his thoughts on “Truth in the Age of Twitter” Tuesday night as a part of the William J. O’Neil lecture series on business journalism.
“What drives our media is the obsession with data and being able to show, not tell,” Winkler said to a crowded room of around 70 SMU students and professors in Umphrey Lee.
“The journalism has to be informed by the data—the most important part of this is the facts,” Winkler said.
Social media and the idea of demonstrating information have become more popular than ever in recent years, but to Winkler, this newfound “spontaneous expression” comes at a cost.
“The value of journalism is diminished by technology that allows us to obtain information or misinformation by a keystroke,” Winkler said.
Winkler cited incorrect Wikipedia profiles and misinformed tweets as examples of the negative affects of technology in journalism.
“We are in the age where people can say whatever they want to and they do,” Winkler said.
He further expanded on this idea by quoting Mark Twain: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” Winkler said.
For Winkler, there are five “F’s” of journalism that he believes every journalist and media outlet should abide by: Be the first, final, fastest, most factual and future word.
“You want to be the first word and the fastest word, but you also want to be the final word,” Winkler said.
“The more determined you are to be the first word, the more determined you will be to be the final or future word.”
While breaking news is important, Winkler emphasized the idea of being correct.
“Don’t be the first if you can’t be factual,” he said. “Without accurate information, decisions can’t be made. What good is a report if it isn’t true?”
One of Winkler’s main points was the importance of corroborating reporting with data and facts.
“If the facts are readily apparent, then you can trust the narrative that follows. You’re only as good as your data,” he pointed out, citing CNN and Fox News’ incorrect reports on the Obamacare verdict last summer.
“It’s so important to know the data, to follow the data. It’s not enough to be half informed,” Winkler said. “You do so at your peril.”
Winkler further emphasized the importance of speed, accuracy, context and perspective in reporting.
“[They] all have a place in 21st century journalism and are key in making a winning [media] model,” Winkler said.
“You have to have something that will make people appreciate that this is news.”
Winkler closed his lecture by reiterating the idea of delving beneath the surface of a report or claim and finding out what the evidence has to say.
“Just because someone say it’s so, doesn’t mean it’s true,” Winkler said. “Good journalism is all about verifying and revealing what is and what isn’t.”