Why does journalism school teach you to check your sources?

Swedish local newspaper Gotlands Allehanda today casually mentions that Twingly has “recieved criticism” for publishing links to rasist blogs on one of our customer’s websites, Sydsvenskan.se.

Since no such criticism have ever appeared, it is a fairly trivial matter. And I doubt that the journalist in this case knows little about Twingly at all. But the story is interesting anyway, because of how it originated.

The original source for the alleged criticism is an article in Dagens Media. That journalist has written a speculative story on why Sydsvenskan stopped using Twingly on their website. When the journalist called me to get confirmation on the speculations I asked him to talk to Sydsvenskan directly. Not being able to reach them for a comment, he opted for publishing the story anyway, without any source.

Stuff like this simply happens. Journalists don’t have much time to spend on each story and when the facts are not instantly available, speculations will have to do if they seem reasonable enough. I have learned to shrug it off because I believe my energy is better spent elsewhere.

But it is still interesting to see what the consequences can be. In this case, the journalist at Gotlands Allehanda has simply googled for “Twingly” and unfortunately happened to land on the one less factual story written about us. Which is how it came to be that probably the only thing their readers ever will read about Twingly is false and somewhat defamatory. It happens.

For the benefit of anyone ending up here without actually knowing what Twingly is, here are the facts: We help business connect with social media. In the case of Sydsvenskan.se, they used our moderated trackback widget for several years to show what blogs were linking to their articles. No links to rasist blogs were ever published in large numbers, since they are moderated by the editorial staff. No one has ever criticised either Twingly or Sydsvenskan for this or even pointed it out as a problem. Sydsvenskan was very happy with Twingly as a supplier and we will continue to work together in the future.

UPDATE: After getting the errors pointed out, Gotlands Allehanda has removed the article from their website.

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