Tag Archives: Twitter

Social media values and possibilities changing the news

9 Apr

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

There is no question about it. Social media has revolutionized journalism. In some ways, some would argue it allows journalists to do or accomplish what they were already trying to accomplish, except in a more time efficient way that reaches more people.

Brenna Ehrlich said: “Journalists are, by nature, crafty folk who are wonderfully adept at stalking — I mean, finding sources and relevant information for various and sundry stories. Well, the advent of social media has made the process of reporting all the more nuanced, and has served as a vital channel for everything from finding leads to contacting sources to sharing and furthering one’s brand.”

Social media has made finding information about someone easier. Something that would have been awkward to ask may now be out in the open on Facebook. Ehrlich compares Facebook to a phonebook, except with photos and biographical information.

Social media has other advantages apart from facilitating information. It also makes it so that journalists are no longer asking questions because people are saying what they think.

In places where journalists are not allowed, people can use the Internet to broadcast their opinions or their oppression. Ehrlich mentioned Iran as an example.

Brian Stelter, a reporter for The New York Times, receives feedback on stories and polishes them through interaction with people on his Twitter and his blog. He also uses both to promote his work and create that ever desired “brand.”

The most crucial aspect of the social media tool is “engagement with the audience,” said Brian Dresher, manager of social media and digital partnerships at USA Today.

Burt Herman said: “Journalism will be more collaborative, embracing the fundamental social nature of the Internet. The story will be shaped by people involved in the news, curated by savvy editors from diverse sources and circulated back again to the audience. This is the new real-time news cycle.”

Social media has added the “personal” element into news. How “personal,” can be debated, but the point is that journalists and news organizations are taking advantage of these tools to connect with others.

“Get readers involved with your brand, engage them with their hearts and minds and the money will follow,” the CoverItLive editor said.

Dan Gillmor said there is a lot to be excited about.

“Why, given the crumbling of newspapers and the news industry in general, should we believe in abundance? Just look around,” he said. “The number of experiments taking place in new media is stunning and heartening. Entrepreneurs are moving swiftly to become pioneers in tomorrow’s news.”

With this breaking away from the monopoly of information, there is an issue with ensuring the credibility of the news media as it becomes more collaborative.

“We’ll have to instill throughout our society principles that add up to critical thinking and honorable behavior,” Gillmor said.

He said readers and participants need to be skeptical, critically think, and go out of their comfort zones. Journalists on the other hand, need to demand transparency, be fair, fact check and be independent. I find the first and last one very hard to do with this new collaborative journalism. How can you force people to be transparent and be independent when you rely on others a lot more heavily, which is what social media facilitates?

Esther Thorson and Michael R. Fancher found by using a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press study that the general audience and journalists have very different ideas about what the core values of the press should be.

If the values are different, it will be difficult for them to collaborate well together.

Matt Egan argues, “Social media is eroding core journalistic values. And whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, professional journalists are just as much to blame as flaming web trolls.”

He states that though journalists through social media are influencing a larger amount of people, they are also being influenced, and that may not be a good thing. He states this can be negative because the person influencing the news could be anyone. Anyone, means anyone.

Some are arguing that social media is destroying journalism completely; that journalists are trying to use what will end up being their demise. Robert Picard went as far as to write a piece in The Christian Science Monitor called “Why journalists deserve low pay.”

He began his piece by saying: “Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days. Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, Twittering, or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models.”

Whatever your opinion may be, one thing is certain: Social media cannot be ignored.

Richard Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University said, “Social media are changing in fundamental ways. Journalists, newsrooms and media companies ignore these changes at their peril.”

TOOLS

Google Trends and Google Correlate:

Google Trends and Google Correlate are tools that give you special insight as a journalists. They give you a peek at the mind of the reader and average person out there and what they care about or think about together.

Google Trends shows what term or reference people refer when they search, while Google Correlate helps you see what people associate with each other and search patterns.

These tools can help journalists not only figure out what to write about and what a “hot” topic is but also it serves as a tool to write SEO-friendly headlines that will be more likely to pop-up when the reader types a search into Google.

Check out my Google Trends [a] and Google Correlate [b] below.

[a]

Hispanic vs. Latino in the Google search.

[a] Latino is obviously a more popular term. One can see that it was especially used in Mexico and Spain. In the U.S., however, both are almost used interchangeable and at the same rate.

[b]

French Elections

[b]  It is neat that Google Correlate works with other languages. I tried it in French. I searched “Election Presidentielle” and it reflected the association and search pattern with “Sondages,” which means surveys or polls, which is something the French actively follow to see how the public opinion on certain candidates changes. Very cool.  🙂

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.

Storify: Hoodie comments

26 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

This is a neat Storify story about Geraldo Rivera’s comment about wearing hoodies and Trayvon Martin’s death. His comments have sparked controversy. I think Rivera makes a valid point, whether we want to admit it or not, hoodies are stigmatized. He makes a good point about the gangster clothes aspect. People don’t realize that he is not justifying Martin’s death. Instead, he is making a valid point. Anyone who has seen a shoplifting video or is a minority knows that there are certain things that are viewed a certain way. The gansgster style of dress being one of them. The way we dress advocates a lifestyle and certain values. There is not debate about this. This Storify includes a video of the statements made and Twitter responses.

http://storify.com/torontostar/geraldo-rivera-hoodies-can-get-your-kid-killed

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.

Case Study 7: Ethics of Twitter journalism and people watching

19 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Twitter has encouraged a new kind of literary journalism.

The Andy Boyle report on the couple breaking up, ‘The Restaurant of Broken Dreams,” was fascinating. It is nothing we all haven’t walked by or witnessed ourselves. If we were to record bits of every conversation we hear while walking, riding the bus or going to the restroom, we would have so many interesting stories.

One time I was in the bathroom and I heard an entire conversation about a girl’s embarrassment when her atheist boyfriend decided to show up at her Methodist church, and he noisily walked in when they were in the middle of prayer.

I don’t think I was intruding on her privacy. Many people cite privacy as a big problem or violation in this type of journalism. My thoughts are that anything in public is free to use unless someone has an expectation of privacy. For example, if someone is on the phone and is trying to speak in hushed tones or separates themselves from a crowd in public, then obviously this person has an expectation of privacy. By law, there are other factors that determine expectation of privacy, such as the location of the person, for example, a residence or a closed items like posted mail.

If a person walks into a room talking on the phone like they are Julia Roberts or something, then obviously their conversation is like a show; something theatrical. This is free to be used because the person is not trying to withhold the information from you. The person knows there are ears all around.

Though the person may know others are listening, however, this does not mean recording is ethical. Recording is different from just hearing something in public. Recording has an extra element that is not on paper when the person who hears it records it. With a sound bite, a person’s voice is recorded and this means the person can be more easily identified. This is a problem if you have not asked the person for permission because it may be illegal in the state in which you live.

Photos were a bit much in this piece. A photo of the couple is creepy. A photo of the restaurant and where they were sitting is not. The couple knew people were watching them, and they game Boyle a show, so he took everything in a recorded it. Maybe it was wrong just for the simple fact that he was giving them the attention they wanted.

As this type of journalism grows and people make a name out of themselves for the stories they record and witness, the ethics of the whole ordeal will evolve. I don’t think what Boyle did was unethical after he took down the photo of the couple. Everything else was interesting, true and fair game. People are interesting. Things happen. Write about the moments that should not be forgotten.

And here, you see, I did it myself #UFtabernacle.

Twitter: Changing the way things work

19 Mar

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

The new tool that has aided social justice, protest, the spread of information and changed the way media works; Twitter.

What is Twitter? According to Jodi Sperber, it is a free service that allows you to send and receive messages of 140 characters or less. Each message is called a “tweet.”

Sperber also said, “The title is a play on the Hebrew phrase tikkunolam, which means ‘repairing the world.’ This concept is bound tightly to integrity within the Jewish faith, encouraging us to challenge the pursuit of money and power, and instead work toward love, kindness, generosity, peace, non-violence and social justice.”

Mathew Ingram said, “The reality is that, for all its flaws, Twitter is a publishing tool, and an increasingly powerful one. And it can be used by anyone, journalist and non-journalist alike.”

He continued saying, “In fact, earlier this year researchers looked at the flow of content on the network and found that Twitter is far more of a news medium than it is a traditional social network.”

Twitter continues what blogging started. It puts in the citizen’s hands, those formerly known as the audience, the power to publish and become a part of the discussion, he said.

Let us take a look at the power of Twitter; its strengths and weaknesses.

Strength: Mobilizes people

Twitter has been known to aid in the mobilization of people and protests. After a presidential election gone wrong in Moldova in 2009, Twitter helped mobilize 10,000 protesters. According to Ethan Zuckerman, one cannot attribute all of the Arab Spring’s success to the Internet. He said the uprising in Tunisia began long before they went to Twitter to mobilize. The only difference was that people around the world were preoccupied with other things such as protests in Iran and the shooting in Arizona.

Zuckerman said, “We’ll discover that online media did play a role in helping Tunisians learn about the actions their fellow citizens were taking and in making the decision to mobilize. How powerful and significant this influence was will be something that academics will study and argue over for years to come.”

Strength: Raising awareness and reaching a wider sphere of influence

A woman, Elaine Ellis, whose bike was stolen in Boulder, Colo., found her bike and its thief by posting a photo on Twitter, said Vanessa Miller, of the Daily Camera website.

This raised awareness and those who followed her helped her find her bike.

Miller said, “Ellis, like a growing number of today’s crime victims, decided to employ social media to help do her own detective work. Legal experts say members of the public who can navigate popular social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook now have access to some of the same methods law enforcement utilizes to crack cases.”

Ellis, the victim of the crime, said, “It was amazing how quick it was. I think Twitter has the potential to be the new Amber Alert for crimes because the community — in Boulder, especially — is so interested in helping out the rest of the community.”

Miller said law enforcement groups are training law enforcement officers to use social media. “Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said his office doesn’t have any major cases ‘where we don’t investigate whether there is social media evidence available to us.’”

“People tend to be unguarded on Facebook,” Garnett said. “People tend to say what they think, and that can often be helpful to the prosecution in a criminal case.”

Strength: Journalism gets a new dimension

Paul Farhi, a Washington Post reporter,  said: “Twitter can be a serious aid in reporting. It can be a living, breathing tip sheet for facts, new sources and story ideas. It can provide instantaneous access to hard-to-reach newsmakers, given that there’s no PR person standing between a reporter and a tweet to a government official or corporate executive. It can also be a blunt instrument for crowdsourcing.”

Craig Kanalley, of the Poynter Insitute, said Twitter can be used in journalism to: customize, making lists and followings lists; discovery of things you never heard about and curation or sorting by topic.

Mallary Jean Tenore’s 10 ways Twitter can help a journalist are the following: to get people to see your story, to start conversations, to give your audience a behind-the-scenes glance, to find sources and story ideas, to capture reactions, to find local sources, to look at the past, to help your audience track a story, to collaborate with others and to build your credibility.

Weakness: Fact checking required

Paul Farhi tells of a Washington Post book critic, Ron Charles, who posted this on his Twitter, from an anonymous source:  “Frequent contributor tells me the New Yorker is considering switch to biweekly or monthly. Recession pains.”

This was what happened: “I just threw it out there,” Charles said. “It was a careless, journalistically irresponsible thing to do.” Within 10 minutes, he said, “it seemed like the whole Internet went crazy. It was terrifying.”

Farhi said, “Mark Briggs answers that reporters are obligated to uphold ethical standards even while casually tweeting. ‘Whatever you put out there doesn’t have to be triple checked, but it can’t be reckless or inaccurate, either,’ he says. ‘You also have to respect other people’s work. Don’t take credit for it if it’s not yours.’”

Weakness: Politics and social media don’t mix

People are not going to the Internet for political news. Most people get their politic fix from the television news outlet. A Pew Reaserach Center for the People and the Press study showed a decline in the overall interest in the campaigns themselves. It seems no one cares, and they definitely aren’t keeping tabs on the elections through Twitter or Facebook.

Despite declining interest, Barak Obama had 100 staff working on his campaign on social media, such as Twitter, according to The Economist. This is not just a U.S. thing, but Sebastián Piñera, the newly elected president of Chile, also asked all of his cabinet members to start tweeting. So the politicians obviously think this is the way to reach the people. Pretty much all of the French presidential candidates are also tweeting.

Weakness: It exposes opinion

This may not be a general weakness, but for journalists it is. There is a big debate behind the ethics of whether Twitter reveals bias.

Mathew Ingram said to Business Week: “By pretending that their journalists don’t have opinions when everyone knows they do, mainstream media outlets are suggesting that their viewers or readers are too stupid to figure out where the truth lies—or too thick to consider the facts of a story whose reporter happens to have retweeted someone’s comment or joined a certain Facebook page. Given this kind of treatment, many looking for news are likely to migrate to sources that admit they have views, rather than continue to be talked down to by newspapers and TV networks that pretend they are above that sort of thing.”

He adds: “The bottom line is that it would be nice if we could admit that journalists are human beings, and then come up with social-media policies that actually encourage and take advantage of it, instead of trying to stamp out any trace of humanity. Journalists would be better off. So would readers.”

I agree. Journalists are not robots. Social media is all about telling of opinion and relating to others. How is it possible to not show bias or leanings in any way? Impossible.

Conclusion

No one knows whether Twitter is here to stay or go, or how it will be improved. Whatever the case may be in the future, Twitter has changed how we view and interact with the world around us. It has become a tool, a platform—a weapon even. Twitter facilitates speech; speech equals freedom; with freedom comes responsibility.

Click on the following hashtag for some literary journalism using Twitter, #UFtabernacle.