Path Home Shows 2011 Show Archive March 2011 Show 1112 Interview with Simran Sethi - 140 Conference

Interview with Simran Sethi - 140 Conference

We visit with emmy award winning journalist and Kansas University professor, Simran Sethi to discuss what social media means for journalism ethics.
Interview with Simran Sethi - 140 Conference

Simran Sethi

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Kansas University, Film & Media Studies
140 Character Conference

Show Dates

Show 1112: Interview with Simran Sethi - 140 Conference

Air date: March 20, 2011



Courtenay DeHoff:  Earlier, our Rob McClendon was able to visit with Emmy Award winning journalist and Kansas University professor, Simran Sethi, to discuss what social media could mean for journalism ethics.

Rob McClendon:  So the gates are not only open, but are the gatekeepers almost gone?

Simran Sethi:  Um, I think we have to become our own gatekeepers.  And what that means is, and, and you know, I very strongly emphasize it in, in when I teach and when I feel this way very strongly about kind of, what we’re doing here is we are now all able to produce the news, but we also have to be very critical about how we consume it and what we’re consuming.  If we feed ourselves a steady diet of junk, we know what’s gonna happen, you know, we’re gonna become bloated and unhealthy.  If we are discriminating about what we put in and what we, you know, and what we’re putting out there, we have the opportunity to really be taken seriously.  And, I think that’s been the hardest thing for people involved in blogging and in tweeting is, a lot of people don’t take these, these outlets seriously.  But, if we, if we ourselves live by journalistic principals, act ethically, source the information properly, do our research, write really good stories, tweet, use those 140 characters wisely, well then I think we get the credibility we deserve.

Rob:  So Simran, is there room enough for all of us in this new media world?

Simran:  Absolutely; I really, I, I, I’m strongly of the belief that everyone is a storyteller and we really just need to connect with the stories that are most important to us.  So I think the idea is to generate stories that are born out of our personal experience and are born out of our personal passion.  So, when we think about it that way we’re all passionate about something, we all care about something and we all have the opportunity to tell stories across the digital spectrum.

Rob:  In, in terms of Twitter, it seems as if the Iranian election is what really put Twitter on the map for people that may have known nothing about it; would you agree?

Simran:  I would say the, the Iranian election put Twitter on the map as a legitimate news source; which I think people had really been questioning before.  A lot of people were like, “Oh Twitter, tweeting, ha, ha, ha, lunch, you know, Lady Gaga.”  I mean, you just, it seemed like kind of a, a, superficial form of engagement.  But, I think what we saw with that, was some real opportunity to break news and to go outside of existing news establishments, right?  And so, that was the key; it was sort of, anybody can tell the news, anybody can share this information, and we’re tweeting it to the world.  So all of a sudden, everyone becomes a reporter; and to see things through their eyes and to have people understand that you can tweet in a, in a small way or you can tweet in a way that has a lot of responsibility and a lot of repercussions.

Rob:  Journalism here in the states has always taken great pride in being very objective, or at least professing to be very objective, do you see this movement towards more of an online media affecting that in any way?  And, having journalism coming from the left, journalism coming from the right, much as, as we do with cable?

Simran:  Well it’s interesting I think, I think we were in a place of objectivity and now increasing are what we see are these kinds of polarized forms of journalism.  To me, what, what social media has the opportunity to do is fill in some of those blanks.  Because it so participatory, because it is a, it is a practice that can be engaged in by many, right?  So I can be, I don’t know, I can be, you know, sitting in a school in like Uganda and potentially have the opportunity to talk to.  I do not have to have a multi-million dollar news contract and, you know, have the lights, the cameras that accompany maybe a big news organization; but, I can still share my story.  There’s, there’s a great equalizer in a tweet in many ways, because we all have the opportunity to share that information.  Of course we can sort of analyze and say, well you know, we don’t, we might not have the same marketing pull, we might not have the same public recognition; but the idea that we are all able to share our stories, we no longer have to wait for a retraction in a newspaper, or only submitting information through a letter to the editor, or you know, crossing our fingers and hoping they’ll print our ah-bed, you know.  But, what chances are there for the everyday person to get on a major news network, you know, they’re slim.  Where did the opportunities for us to get on Twitter and talk about what we care about, well they’re very high.