In this context, it is important to understand how the media works and how they ensure the information they convey is credible. A journalist who works for radio, television or a newspaper must obey the rules before broadcasting or publishing information. In addition, the information reported by a journalist must be based on facts.

What is a fact?

It isn’t an opinion or an allegation. It is verifiable information. A journalist must stick to the facts. This is not the case for individuals, who can publish whatever they want on social media or the Web. This doesn’t mean that anyone except for journalists writes just anything on the Internet, no matter what. It simply means that the majority of individuals are not subject to rules as strict as those that apply to journalists. Journalists do not publish information based only on one person’s opinion or allegation. For example, a journalist could not publish an article on potential child kidnappers without having proof these people are suspected by the police of this type of crime.

Generally, they do not disclose people’s names before they are formally charged and, when they do so, it is only after rigorous fact checking.

The journalist also goes through a series of steps before an article is published or a report is broadcast on radio or TV. If a journalist had to cover a story similar to that of the classroom computer theft, he would have to:

• question the witness, the victim, the person accused of theft, the police department, etc.

• ask them questions: who, what, when, where, why, how.

• collect valid evidence.

• cross-reference the information.

• validate everything with the newspaper’s editor in chief.

All this requires more time than inventing a story on the spot and pressing “Publish”. It’s a long process! Unfortunately, fake news and other false information travel faster! This is why it must be cut off at the source. Beware of what you like, comment about and share on the Internet.

A journalist must…