By Graduate Consultant Stuart Roberts
With leading international news publications gradually following the path of the pay wall, the divisive topic of free online content is bound to be a significant discussion in coming years.
The digital age has brought our desire for breaking news to another level, with old fashioned fact checking taking a back seat in favour of high speed, free content.
Now days, if you’re the first to break a major story, whether the platform be an online newspaper, blog or Twitter, your voice will be heard, regardless of your journalistic qualifications.
Although the race to release content no doubt keeps the public informed, the potential implications of trusting unreputable sources and foregoing fact-checking are significant.
In the case of false accusations and misinformation, by the time elements of a story prove to be false, reputations may have already paid an unrepairable price.
With the 24-hour news cycle causing content to lose relevancy within a matter of hours, the public may well have accepted a report and moved onto the next topic before you even get a chance to prepare your message and correct the record.
Say a customer wants to take out their frustrations on a certain restaurant and sends a photo of an undesirable object floating in their meal to a publication without the necessary resources to check the facts.
Regardless of whether the photo is authentic or just a stitch-up, the accusation has been made, the picture will be shared and reputations will be ruined.
In 2016 it seems we are faced with a reality where the risk of misinformation and false accusation is not only more prevalent, it is also more of a challenge to correct.
As consumers of news we should be aware of this and interpret information accordingly.
As employees, business owners, consultants and volunteers, we should have procedures in place to respond to misinformation and accusations.
We should seek our news from reputable news sources and take everything we see on social media with a grain of salt.
And, although it might come as a shock to some, it may be time to accept that quality, researched content cannot remain free forever.
In any case, devoting proper time to research, fact checking, writing and proofing uses far more resources than simply sharing viral stories found on social media.
If we expect our content providers to spend these resources and write valuable stories, then why should we not expect to pay for it?