5 Mediactive principles for media creators
It can be easy to assume that the only real creators on the internet are those who publish articles, make YouTube videos or run websites. But in reality, we are all media creators if we have so much as posted a picture on Facebook or replied to a Tweet. How can you ensure that the media you create is high-quality and free of misinformation? Here are five ways, inspired by our work with journalists.
1. Be thorough.
The more you know about something, the more effectively you can explain it to others. That’s why journalists typically have a beat: a specific area of coverage they know deeply. Think like a journalist and work hard to know both the big and the little details of whatever you’re discussing. Posting something without all the details is essentially gossiping, and we should all strive to do better.
2. Be accurate.
Get it right. Period. Sounds easy, right? Not always. Sometimes we see things that look or sound credible, so we pass them along, only to realize later that they’re actually incorrect.
We should explain how we know what we know. We should not cite people who have a record of lying. Oh, and triple-check your facts — especially things like dates, places and the spelling of names.
3. Be fair and civil.
This one is harder to quantify, but it is not any less important. Fairness is essential, both in journalism and in everyday media creation. If you can’t understand someone else’s point of view — assuming they’re not making things up to support it — then you aren’t trying hard enough to do so.
Civility not only goes hand-in-hand with fairness, but it is the backbone of healthy debate. If we can’t be civil in our dialogue, then we might as well not begin it at all. Just think of the comment sections of news and social media websites — would you rather try to converse with a person expressing their opinion in a civil and logical way, or someone using inflammatory language? The answer is pretty clear.
We believe so strongly in civil discussion that we partnered with Spaceship Media on a Q&A session that addresses how to have civil conversations even — and especially — when the topics are difficult.
4. Be an independent thinker.
Before you can think independently, you first have to open your mind to what others are saying. As you listen, monitor your own reactions to their words and the conclusions you draw from them. Are they challenging your previously held beliefs? Why or why not? Being open to changing your beliefs is how you know that you’re truly thinking independently, rather than being a slave to your own biases. It’s not always easy, but it makes both your personal content and your dialogue with others more productive.
5. Be transparent.
We all make mistakes. We may get the facts wrong, share the incorrect version of a news story, or be fooled by a total scam. When this happens, transparency is vital. Explaining how the mistake happened and correcting it as publicly as we made it is the most effective method. If people know you’re transparent, they are much more likely to trust you and your content.
These principles are just the beginning, but they can offer a whole new way of creating media — and keep you safe from spreading misinformation.
Ready to create media with integrity? Head over to our site Mediactive or sign up for the full free self-paced course through Arizona State University. You can also download a PDF of these principles for media creators here.
Quinlyn Shaughnessy is a Mediactive teaching assistant with a love for all things media-related. She holds a BA in Mass Communication & Media Studies from ASU’s Cronkite School and can usually be found typing, reading or watching.