Tag Archives: platform

Facebook: The new face of journalism

30 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

“Everyone has one,” is what most will say about Facebook. It is the place where people go to connect, create an image and check up on other people. It is a place where you can collect every face you’ve ever encountered and follow their lives, and where you can post photos you took of yourself shamelessly.

This tool that has managed to connect the planet, except for the Chinese because they have their own version of it, is seen by journalists as a platform. It is a place where they can, as The Next Web website explains, create online communities and engage readers. Facebook is not a place for breaking news like Twitter, but it can still deliver news in a timely fashion and be updated constantly, it argues.

Facebook also allows you to receive notifications, and you choose who you share certain things with. In this respect, Facebook is a lot more private than Twitter.

It has become about building relationships with people and creating dialogue. It is a platform, not only for media, but for protests and other mobilizations of groups.

Vadim Lavrusik calls Facebook a “social newspaper.” He said Facebook helps journalists build their brand, and it helps disseminate information to a large group of people. It can also help tell a story in a multi-media fashion because one can embed videos and other links.

Journalists through Facebook can ask readers questions and involve them in the process of news and provide them with extra analysis.

As a journalist, with Facebook,  you can try to reach an audience of 800 million.

Facebook continues to grow and add applications and new ways to tell stories. You can update from just about anywhere with a mobile device. There is no telling what new things could come up in the future. Things we perhaps have never thought of.

It would be neat if in the future Facebook partnered with Skype to add interaction to the medium between journalists and the readers and audience. If Facebook adds a “live TV” type element, this would further help the timeliness of news and the presentation of it on the spot.

For my blog, I have added an application available under “share” where you can share my blogs on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t have a Facebook. As clever and useful as it may be, I think it is a shallow way of interacting with people. Nothing beats being in a place with another person face-to-face.

Facebook also brings many ethical concerns. Facebook boasts privacy and protecting your profile, yet at the same time is serves as a medium to give out information and leave nothing hidden. Ethical concerns include and are not limited to: conflicts of interests with readership and “friends;” because Facebook is about real time, sacrificing quality for the speed you can spread the information; and having readers contribute and not fact checking. Another concern is that most people communicate through typing. Most of the time email communication for journalists is discouraged because it could be anyone, which undermines credibility, and one cannot distinguish tone in a written message which could make portraying something accurately a problem. Facebook is no different.

I think Facebook could compromise the key values of “acting independently” and “accuracy” in reporting. I also think it cheapens what we do. Facebook and Twitter have strived to give anyone the power to publish, and that is NOT always a good thing.

Digital involvement

28 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

We live in a day where journalists post story ideas in Google Documents and through social media, and they ask the readers for feedback. Some news rooms have an “open door policy” where people can stop by and make suggestions, and others have even set up cafes where journalists hang out and wait for the community to come by and chat.

Emily Olson, the managing editor at Register Citizen, said people stopping by doesn’t necessarily mean the conversations and suggestions are helpful.

She added, “Our time is probably what suffers more than anything, but that’s a sacrifice we have to accept.”

The sacrifice, however, is worth it because of what journalists are able to get out of this interaction with the reader.

Having journalists interact with readers through diverse media helps them get a feel as to what the community thinks is important.

Mathew Ingram said the journalist’s interaction with readers makes news an “ongoing process” rather than a finished product.

Ingram wrote about John Paton, the new head of the Media News Group newspaper chain, and a leading advocate of a “digital first” approach to publishing, who said newspapers need to change their business style if they are going to survive.

“Many newspapers continue to focus their energy on the print version, then post things to the web, which results in stories without links, and static versions of the news that don’t evolve as the story changes and new information emerges,” Ingram paraphrased.

Sports Illustrated is a publication that has successfully gone digital. According to Lauren Indvik, the Sports Illustrated digital revenue went up 22% from 2009 to 2010.

The writers have their hands full making different versions of stories. The shorter ones go on the web, and the longer ones go in the print version and tablet versions, Indvik said.

“Nothing that we do converts easily one from the next,” Senior Editor Stephen Cannella said.

Other magazines like The Atlantic have transitioned well into the digital age.

Indvik said: “In some ways, The Atlantic was primed for web journalism. The magazine had been established in the mid-nineteenth century by a group that included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Harriet Beecher Stowe, prominent American intellectuals then in the prime of their careers. In its founding statement, The Atlantic (then called The Atlantic Monthly) pledged to be ‘the organ of no party or clique, but will honestly endeavor to be the exponent of what its conductors believe to be the American idea,’ concerned with ‘Freedom, National Progress, and Honor, whether public or private.’”

It is interesting though because The Atlantic still pledges that more important than being fast and technological is the quality of the work produced by the writers at the publication.

Some advice about generating interaction and traffic from  Liz Borod Wright includes putting your website or news organization on StumbleUpon or Pinterest. She also suggests using your blog name as your username on other social media and to be “generous,” and generate conversation and traffic on other sites. They may return the favor.

It is important to engage and use social media. People are likely to find ideas or news on these websites so you might as well use them to engage and seek ways to improve or have more perspectives.

Journalists, as they report, are using social media more. Some are using Twitter and Facebook as their platforms, Lindsay Oberst said.

Justin Ellis said Facebook data shows that when journalists pose questions on Facebook when they use Facebook to blog and report, it raises reader engagement.

International Journalists’ Network3 said social media is important because, when seeking engagement, on social media sites you can find people of diverse backgrounds and locations.

Twitter has proven useful, especially with the use of the hashtag which allows people to follow certain topics.

Steve Buttry argues that if you are a disconnected journalist you cannot give the people what they need and are seeking, therefore, you must be engaged with the community. He said journalists take the Society of Professional Journalists creed of “act independently” a little too seriously, and they become detached and “aloof” to what surrounds them.

He also said it is important to have many perspectives, and also, if you include the reader in your journey to obtaining information and the process of reporting, the reader sees that you are credible.

Though it can be time consuming, a complete waste of time and sometimes pose ethical issues, connecting with readers has proven to be valuable.

It is a concept that goes along with the saying, “How can one rule the people if one does not know the people?” How can you write and hope to educate a people if you don’t know what really matters to them?

As time goes by and more news organizations adopt more platforms, reporters will not only be reporting and publishing stories from far and strange lands, but they will also be analyzing and discussing them through these same platforms.

Through social media, you can reach the world and get its opinion, literally. Once you take the time to know your community, it can show you what you should care about, and you can show it what it should care about, too.

Case Study 7.1: Credibility in Twitter journalism

20 Mar

By:Gabriela Gonzalez

It was the same event, except BBC’s story was twice the length of the RTE News story. What was the difference? BBC was getting input from people and “witnesses” in the city via Twitter about the grenade attack in Liege, Belgium. The entire BBC story is filled with attributions such as: “media say,” “witnesses say,” “earlier reports,” “medical staff,” and “people were told,” but it doesn’t say who said what specifically. The BBC story is filled with details that are unconfirmed, and may not be true because people can post whatever they want on Twitter. Someone may make something a lot more dramatic than it really is. Using audience input that has not been verified could put your publication’s credibility on the line.

RTE News gave the facts as did The New York Times. Their stories were concise and gave the only confirmed information which was an estimate of how many had died. RTE News used police and television footage for its account of what happened.

According to Red66, about 23 newspapers from around the world used Twitter in 2008. About 16 radio and television stations, including BBC in multiple languages, used Twitter in 2008. It is probably safe to say a lot more today use Twitter.

By having the public interact with them and contribute to news, the news organization also shares and promotes its own work. Twitter is excellent because people can update about things that happen instantly, for example, natural disasters. It calls itself in some instances a “newswire.”

ReadWriteWeb said Twitter is a quick way to get assured information. It is debatable whether the information is truly so accurate.

Despite potential lack of credibility, according to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism studied 13 news organizations from print, TV and radio and found, “Mainstream news organizations primarily use Twitter to move information and push content to readers.”

When news outlets use Twitter it is important for the news outlet to verify and check the information before it is included in pieces of journalism. The key values of journalism are accuracy, fairness, transparency, professional responsibility and independence. Journalists and news organizations must never compromise those values. It is only through the journalist taking the time to fact check that the comments and contributions made through Twitter actually contribute something to the news organization and journalism itself.

It is better to have a one-sentence story and have it be accurate, than one that is three pages long and filled with inaccuracies.