3-1: Sources, Credibility, and Social Media

I chose to examine the sources cited in an article written for The Huffington Post Green Section, by James Gerken. As Gerken’s background information from the huffington post’s website only stated that he is a graduate of Colgate University, and presently resides in New York City, I performed a Google search for his name. The search results included links to his Twitter feed (@j_gerks), Facebook profile, as well as his LinkedIn profile. According to Gerken’s LinkedIn profile, he has worked for The Huffington Post since 2011, assuming titles of Associate Green Editor, Deputy Green Editor, and Green Editor – a position he has held since 2013. Gerken’s Twitter page lists his interests as sustainability, energy policy, and urban planning.

Gerken’s February 25, 2014 article, titled Sea Levels Along The Northeast Rose Almost 4 Inches In Just 2 Years: Study, details the significance of the extremely sharp increase in sea levels surrounding the Northeast United States from 2009 to 2010. In an attempt to evaluate the credibility of the sources Gerken cited in his article, I applied the eight criteria listed in George Mason University’s Criteria to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources. Before assessing Gerken’s sources, I set out to determine whether or not Gerken himself held any credentials that might establish him as an authority in his areas of interest. Of course, a lack of education or association within the field of environmentalism does not imply that Gerken isn’t knowledgeable about the subject. In fact I believe he has most likely amassed a tremendous amount of awareness and knowledge about issues impacting the natural world simply due to the research he has performed in preparation for his articles. I was able to access his past articles, all of which were related to the environmental issues.

Gerken cited seven sources in article, and after reviewing each, I determined all to be current, directly relevant to the article’s subject, and free of bias. Of the seven sources cited by Gerken, six represented scholarly and peer reviewed articles published within the time period at issue. The seventh source took the form of a definition for a scientific term. The source functioned to explain, and further clarify a well-documented natural phenomenon within the context of the article. Overall, I found Gerken’s article to be based in what Kovach and Rosenstiel (2010) call verification-based journalism (p. 36). Gerken made no statements of fact with out citing the source, and all of his sources were credible scientific journals. I considered them to be credible based on the type of website or article from which Gerken’s statement originated. Due to many fact that many of his sources came from scientific journals that relied on fees from subscriptions to operate – and not website advertisements – I was confident that the sites were not trying to further any special interest or promote a certain product.

Listed below are links to Gerken’s seven sources in the order which they appear in his article

Personal blogs cover an almost infinite range of subjects. Their also also exist professional blogs which are usually associated with a parent company website. For example, meteorologist Jeremy Reiner of Boston news channel WHDH, provides his weather reports through WHDH official website, but also writes a daily blurb as part of what WHDH calls Jeremy Reiner’s Weather blog. I would consider this to be a professional-type blog, as it is still content provided through the corporate website and therefore moderated to ensure that Reiner’s content is acceptable to the corporate interests. If I was doing research and needed to cite my sources to back up my claims, I probably not cite any type of blog in my references. As stated by Johnson and Kaye in their article for Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly,

Anyone can create a blog, and bloggers are not bound by ethical and professional standards of trained journalists (2004)

Social media has changed the way audiences receive and spread information and also the way traditional news agencies disseminate content. A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center reported that of the 64% of American adults using Facebook, 30% of them get news from the site. Social media users are also increasingly performing the role of information curators as individuals share messages originating from traditional news agencies. In other words, even though news and information is being initially provided by traditional news outlets, individuals are a driving force in the spread of this news over social media. This phenomenon is brought to light in another 2012 study by Amy Mitchell & Tom Rosenstiel of PEJ, and Leah Christian of the Pew Research Center, about how FaceBook and Twitter are changing the way audiences receive news.


Reference Material from George Mason University. Retrieved from http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

Anderson, M. & Caumont, A. (2014, September 24).How social media is reshaping news. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/

Gerken, J. (2015, February 25). Sea Levels Along The Northeast Rose Almost 4 Inches In Just 2 Years: Study. The Huffington Post:Green. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/sea-level-rise-northeast_n_6751570.html

Johnson, T. J., & Kaye, B. K. (2004). WAG THE BLOG: HOW RELIANCE ON TRADITIONAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET INFLUENCE CREDIBILITY PERCEPTIONS OF WEBLOGS AMONG BLOG USERS. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 81(3), 622-642. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/216933527?accountid=3783

Mitchell, A., Rosenstiel, T., & Christian, L. (2012). The State of The News Media 2012. Retrieved from http://www.stateofthemedia.org/2012/mobile-devices-and-news-consumption-some-good-signs-for-journalism/what-facebook-and-twitter-mean-for-news/

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