Pelley Says Social Media Undermining Solid Reporting

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CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley had a response on Friday to those online critics of the mainstream media who say that they would rather get their news from social media than from CBS and The New York Times. Twitter, Facebook and Reddit: that's not journalism. That's gossip. Journalism was invented as an antidote to gossip, Pelley said, as he accepted the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award at New York's Metropolitan Club. Pelley was particularly critical of journalists who rushed to repeat claims about the Boston Marathon bombings that appeared online without checking them. In a world where everyone is a publisher, no one is an editor. And that is the danger we face today, he said. Part of the problem, he indicated, is that journalists are often driven to scoop their rivals, which produces a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes jumping to conclusions. He then asked, How does it serve the public if we're first? ...You know what first is all about? It's vanity. It's self-conceit. No one's sitting at home watching five TV monitors saying, 'Oh they were first!' He then quoted Friendly, who, he said, once remarked, If you're first, no one will ever remember. If you're wrong, no one will ever forget.


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