Reporters Hole Up With Just Facebook, Twitter

Earlier this month, five French-speaking journalists spent a week in a house in the French countryside. No cell phones, no TV. They could use only Twitter and Facebook in their reporting. Host Liane Hansen speaks to Janic Tremblay of Radio Canada to find out how the experiment turned out.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Our next story resembles an episode of MTV's long-running reality show, "The Real World," Perigord. Earlier this month, five French-speaking journalists spent a week in a house in the French countryside - no cell phones, no TV. They could use only Twitter and Facebook in their reporting. To find out how the social media experiment turned out, we've called one of the participants.

Janic Tremblay is a reporter with Radio Canada. We contacted him via Twitter and Facebook, but for this conversation we've called him in Montr�al. Welcome to the program, Janic.

Mr. JANIC TREMBLAY (Reporter, Radio Canada): Thank you. Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: What did you learn?

Mr. TREMBLAY: You are - if I may say - who you follow. It means the people you are following are giving you their perspective on the world. We've also learned that it can be a very powerful radar. When you think about it, Twitter can be the biggest news agency in the world, because each one of us can feed it with a computer or a smart phone.

HANSEN: Was there a story in particular that you wished that you could've verified in other ways while you were in this house?

Mr. TREMBLAY: Yes. At a certain moment people started tweeting about the fact that Carla Bruni, you know, the spouse of Nicolas Sarkozy, that she was pregnant. Of course, since we're journalists, we checked that how the news would evolve and we saw that there was no news there.

HANSEN: Where'd you go to verify information, to find out whether...

Mr. TREMBLAY: Well, we could try through our own network. There were some news about, I don't know, it involved the police in Montr�al. And so I didn't have much information about the whole thing and I couldn't get any. So, I just sent a tweet, and rapidly, people began to give me some details about the first fragments of information that I had.

HANSEN: What was the greatest challenge for you as a journalist doing this?

Mr. TREMBLAY: The diversity of information is not that important on Twitter once you've removed traditional media. Some journalists are very active on Twitter, and therefore, their tweets are retweeted a lot. So, their vision of the news becomes the official one. So, it takes time to build a good network, so that's what I'm doing right now. I'm trying to choose the good people, the ones that are producing symphonic notes rather than the ones tweeting about their opinions, which is a legitimate use of Twitter, but that I have no use for as a journalist.

HANSEN: Janic Tremblay is a reporter with Radio Canada. He spoke to us from Montr�al.

And you can find me at NPRLiane, L-I-A-N-E, one word.

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