FTW Media

Thoughts about New/Social Media

The human touch still needed

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One of the reasons Yahoo! was so popular in its early days was that its listings were hand-crafted by a team of human editors (not by algorithm). It’s news section too was chosen by human editors (not spiders).

Of course doing things by hand is neither efficient nor scalable. But sometimes it’s necessary for certain offerings.

Take for example, Breaking Tweets, an attempt to do something journalistic with Twitter. It’s pretty nifty. Have a look at the sample below:

April 30, 2009

Eight-year-old Saudi girl’s marriage annulled

Per BBC, a young Saudi girl who was married to an older man in his 50s has been granted a divorce in an out-of-court settlement.

A judge had earlier rejected the girl’s mother’s appeal in the town of Unaiza. He was replaced by a new judge who decided to nullify the case after the marriage was confirmed illegal by the girl’s husband, per BBC.

Twitterers had these reactions when the legal news first penetrated worldwide:

  1. Donnette Davis
    Donnette (South Africa) a Saudi marriage officiate declared that a girl can be married at the age of one if sex is postponed http://tinyurl.com/cev327
  2. danie_d
    danie_d (San Francisco, Calif.) 8 year old girl married to a 47 year old man in Saudi Arabia. U.S. doesn’t allow it to affect trade. But mention trade w/ Cuba and “OH NO.”
  3. Freddie Zacarias
    quantifyme (Undisclosed) A 8 yr old Saudi girl married to a 50 yr old Saudi man is a shame. Not only is a violation of human rights, it is “child slavery”
  4. Joe Newbert
    newbert (Cape Town, South Africa) RT @geekstats 8: age of Saudi Arabian girl married by father to settle debts. (http://bit.ly/WrvB). This world can be hideous.
  5. Governance Focus
    governancefocus (Undisclosed) A Saudi girl of 8 was married to a man in his 50’s and now they want to annul it. What do you expect from a country without democracy.

Following the most recent media reports, Twitterers noted these reactions today:

  1. Michelle Torres
    michou83 (New Jersey) http://tinyurl.com/cwrmxa– Young Saudi girl’s marriage ended…. THANK GOD. Now they just need a real policy.
  2. Akin
    forakin (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Young Saudi girl’s marriage ended but not by the courts and hidebound religious judges http://is.gd/vEqY
  3. macleans
    macleans (Undisclosed) Out-of-court settlement allows Saudi girl, 8, to divorce 50-year-old husband http://tinyurl.com/cqbcmk

No immediate reaction could be found within Saudi Arabia itself. Tweets were searched for in both Arabic and English.

Eight-year-old Saudi girl’s marriage annulled


Breaking Tweets basically publishes a collection of tweets relating to specific breaking news items. It’s good because it collates and organizes for us interesting tweets about key topics of the moment. The thing is, it’s done by a team of human editors who apply editorial judgment on what should be included and what should not.

Could the Google guys come up with an algorithm to do away with the need for human editors? Probably, but it won’t be as good. Good journalism, whether it involves New Media or social media still requires the human touch.


Written by Oon Yeoh

May 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Posted in New Media, Social Media

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