Social Media is the Fifth Estate

Matthew Hurst at Microsoft Research comments on the need for transparency and balance in how traditional media applies social media to story generation:

"NPR this morning spent some time fact checking some of the remarks made by democrat candidates during their radio debate. While the fact checking indicated a large number of issues regarding either the politicians’ information or the willful twisting of the ‘facts’ the report also highlighted something about NPR’s approach to story generation: how were the statements that were fact checked selected? Did they fact check all statements and then select those that had the most ‘news-worthy’ punch? Why didn’t they report cases where the fact checking indicated that the candidate had the facts correct?

The need to constantly generate news, even in the case of the benign NPR staff, must always be balanced with the information that the fourth estate generates.

Social Media may be the fifth estate, but to fill this role it may well require algorithmic enhancement."

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