I believe that friending sources on Facebook makes it easier to connect with them for a story, but you also have to make sure it’s the actual person you’re looking for first and not a bot/fake profile.
In today’s generation, no one is quick to answer a phone call or an email to get back to you on a story. This even relates to the Tangerine in some ways, because I have emailed several athletes for a story and when only one or two people get back to me, I have to email more and no one is in a hurry to get back to you. Sometimes in that case, I look under my friends list on Facebook to see who goes to UC and who is an athlete who will relate to the story I’m working on and I find that it’s much quicker that way than waiting days for someone to reply to your email. But then just messaging friends as sources creates a conflict of interest because you know them and from this, it limits your connections to only a few people. However, I would think that contacting your friends would also help in the means of them connecting you with more people to talk to besides them.
Going back to the whole double checking to make sure the person you’re looking to talk to is a real person, Ari Shapiro, a justice correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) said that if the person you’re looking for or even someone who friends you personally has a photo that is of a logo or a photograph of a politician, they may not be credible to talk to or even add as a friend in that matter. I agree with Shapiro’s statement and when adding friends on Facebook, I always look at their profile very closely to see their photos and to see how many mutual friends we have together.
Also, while being friends with someone who is a public figure or of higher authority, you have to be careful about what you post. Sacramento Bee columnist Stuart Leavenworth said in regards to the Secretary of State of California sending him a friend request, “But I also just felt strange about them having so much access to my personal information, since I like to have fun on Facebook. I like to post goofy photos and post goofy messages, and I’m not sure I want the secretary of state and the assembly speaker and others to be viewing those on a daily basis.”
If I were in the situation as a professional journalist, I would have my own verified Facebook page and allow potential sources to message me and if so, I would do a valid background check on them before interviewing them or would only use them on background and find a valid source to confirm that information.
As a UC journalism student, how do you go about finding sources for assignments? Do you email the person or do you call them first? After discussing social media and friending sources, would you message the source- why or why not?
Nicole, how do you go about contacting your sources if you cannot reach them via email or phone?
Source: Mendoza, Steven. “To Friend or Not to Friend? ” American Journalism Review, ajrarchive.org/article.asp?id=4628.