How NOT to approach breaking news witnesses on Twitter


Claire Wardle

Clare Wardle, research director from the TOW Centre for Digital Journalism and co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub, gave us the low down on what NOT to do when approaching eye witnesses on social media – and how news organisations can gain trust with users:

  • Don’t be an Egg! Get a profile picture
  • Don’t use automated systems like Capture
  • Don’t reuse my picture or name without permission
  • Don’t ask my permission, while declaring that I will have no rights over my content
  • Don’t be rude
  • Think about my safety and the consequences embedding this content will have on that!
  • Don’t scrape videos into your own video player, without my permission and sharing any revenue you earn on the 20 second pre roll ad

There is a trend that eyewitnesses are increasingly to be found not on social media but on private networks, Wardle said, so trust is increasingly important. For media organisations to continue receiving breaking news footage, they have to regain this trust and treat their eyewitnesses like they would with sources.

She added:

Journalists will go to jail to protect sources, but treat something created on a phone very differently

User-generated content, she added, was the ‘worst phrase in the world’, because the focus is on the content – and how a news organisation can reuse it – rather than on the source, who just witnessed something extraordinary.

She said:

Please don’t think of me as Waggy Finger Lady, but trust [from social media sources] is important.



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