From a story in NPR's Weekend Edition of today:
"What we are losing is editing," [Daniel] Schorr said. "I grew up and nothing could be communicated to the outside world that didn't go through an editor to make sure you had your facts right, spelling right and so on.
"Now, every person is his or her own publisher and/or her own editor or her own reporter. And the world is full of people who are sending out what they consider to be news. It may be, it may not be, it may be made up and it doesn't matter anymore.
"That, to me, is the worst part of this. The discipline that should go with being able to communicate is gone."
In response, I offered up two recent examples of breaking news stories that played out on Twitter: the attacks in Mumbai and the riots in Greece. Occasionally, you'd see stories circulating on the Internet — or even on air — that weren't necessarily true but because it was happening so fast it was hard to keep up with it.
And then people on Twitter and Facebook started asking, 'Are you really sure about that? Did you see this yourself? Did you get this from a news source? Did you get this from a blog?'
And so, in a way a system of checks and balances kicks into high gear with people who are just innately very skeptical — wanting to get to the heart of a matter.
And sometimes stories actually get debunked that way.
(Emphasis and extra paragraphing added.)
Related stories: See the Distortions category