'News has become breathless': The impact of social media on the speed of news

The National in Conversation: 5 things we learned about the changing nature of news

At a time when anyone can inform people what's happening by tweeting or posting on Facebook, an audience member at The National In Conversation with Peter Mansbridge wants to know — does the pressure to get the story out first impact the accuracy of the story?

Peter Mansbridge joked that he had to ask CBC senior correspondent Susan Ormiston during the 2008 election about Twitter. She taught him how to tweet, something she said she'd only just learned herself. 

But Mansbridge said eight years later it's ubiquitous. 

"Lightening speed," is how Ormiston describes the pace. "News has become breathless, breaking."

Ormiston said that means journalists have to go back and verify information, and if something is inaccurate correct it. She added the internet helps do that too. 

People will tell you if you got something wrong 

"It's a massive voice out in the world that says, 'You got this wrong,'" she said.

But she said you have to be careful believing that too. Ormiston said it could be someone trying to mislead you — information still has to be checked independently.

"More voices. Many, many more voices. And it's easy to get caught up." 

She gave an example that happen last month when she was in Moscow. She woke up at 3 a.m. and reached for her phone. The shooting had happened at the mosque in Quebec.

She noticed a tweet from Reuters, a reputable international new organization that CBC and many others rely on. The tweet said that two white supremacists from America had already been captured in the shooting. 

She thought "wow, that was quick," but luckily didn't retweet the post. As it turned out, it was a fake news site, posing as Reuters.