Tag Archives: social media

Using Facebook for journalism

4 Apr

Facebook has one of the greatest appeals of all social media platforms by offering opportunities to connect with both personal friends and “fans” as two separate entities. For prominent figures or news organizations, interacting with an audience as an organization is just as simple as an individual reporter conducting research and talking with sources on a more personal level. The news feed serves as a mini bulletin board for updates and developments on all sorts of subjects. Mine alone as a news-savvy college student is peppered with posts from Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and Gawker daily, as well as important breaking news on a national and international scale. You remember the flood of updates about Osama Bin Laden’s death and “RIP JoePa” statuses. Facebook has also played just as much of a role as Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn toward building a reporter’s or news outlet’s brand through pages. Even more ways to curate news, such as allowing a separate section of a user’s profile to be dedicated to posting articles (as opposed to grouping all links together as a kind of post), would be greatly beneficial to journalist’s searching for news and leads.

Of course, with a more personal connection comes deeper ethical hot water for journalists. My ethics class has wrestled with the idea of what is considered appropriate in terms of reporters “friending” sources as business associates like a city mayor or police public information officer to avoid blurring the line between a social and professional connection. The term “friend” on Facebook has come to mean so much more than a buddy you get coffee with, but rather has come to signify any kind of connection. However, the less opportunity to give the impression of bias, the better. This decision in the end, though, is the prerogative of the journalist.

Here are some links for how journalists can use Facebook:

So far, I have only reached out to certain friends on Facebook about my topic blog because blogging about improv has become such a sensitive topic recently in the comedy scene (some have published controversial posts that have ticked off a number of fellow improvisers). However, reception to the blog has been great, so I’ll likely expand my promotion of it to posting links to individual articles both on my own profile and in comedy groups I’m a member of.

Restructuring the newsroom

4 Apr

Radical changes in the media landscape and how news organizations are dealing with these changes has resulted in many turning to the idea of a complete overhaul of the current system.

In response to an essay by Dean Starkman called “Confidence Game,” NYU professor Clay Shirky asserted that the experiments of today are paving the way for systems to be in place for later developments about how news outlets are organized. The best way news organizations can cope with the dynamism of their own industry is to embrace the ideals of these changes. Digital means quick, and daily newspapers that have become accustomed to filtering news through an entire workday must adapt to meet the expectations of an evolving audience.

“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” — Marshall McLuhan

Institutions like The New York Times could not have survived today by resting on their laurels; they have fluidly accepted the shifting landscape. Outlets must be constantly aware (“constant vigilance” for all you Harry Potter fans) and thinking — an idle mind is the lazy journalist’s workshop. Instead of succumbing to “inevitable” changes, media should consider all the possibilities of how to incorporate the new ideals of the public to best suit their own organization.

I Googled "constant vigilance" and this is what came up.

Even in college, new age media has been rivaling long-standing local print media institutions. Small news teams relying on outside help through crowdsourcing are able to cover a wide array of subjects and events through a dedicated, engaged readership that the larger staffs who are still spread so thin on a daily basis are struggling to keep up. Journalism students now are encouraged to not only blog and use all sorts of online media, but to blog about and explore this new technology as well.

What really needs tweaking is how two viewpoints like Starkman’s and Shirky’s hold completely reasonable amounts of water. Starkman’s plea to reinvent old organizations instead of forming new ones can be combined with the approach bloggers have taken to overtake Old Reliables. What the media industry needs is a steady balance of both reinventing old favorites and embracing the fresh approach of online outlets generally run by a digitally-savvy younger generation.

Case Study 4: Google Alerts for the well-rounded journalist

13 Feb

It’s no surprise that Google is doing all it can to stay on the ball to make finding things as easy as possible for both Regular Joes and journalists alike. The advent of social media tools has made it easier for users to locate exactly what they’re looking for based on what their peers have seen and found, essentially cutting a third party search service like Google out of the equation. However, Google Alerts have made it even easier to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially if it’s a specified search.

By setting up Google to find things in news, blogs and essentially anywhere else on the web, you can have alerts sent to your email inbox about anything from news about your favorite store to your own name. For example, I have alerts set up for my name, a popular movie coming out in December that I like to stay updated on and a topic that I frequently blog about.

Google Alerts is a great feature for journalists to keep up with important people and topics, as well as a useful professional tool to keep tabs on your Internet image.

For journalists, Google Alerts is an invaluable research tool because it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Especially for reporters working on a beat, it’s a great way to catch a story. Poynter has picked up on its benefits, and, from personal experience working in a local broadcast newsroom, it would have been much more helpful to use it to keep an eye on the competition than stalking WSVN and CBS4’s websites all day was.

But using this feature is more than simply setting it up and forgetting about it unless there’s a major breakthrough — it’s about thinking outside the box and maximizing it to its greatest potential. The story of the young Miami Herald reporter who, instead of just relying on the news setting, paid close attention to blogs for ideas and got a great scoop about Florida residents trying to get musical artist Jim Morrison posthumously pardoned. While many others in the newsroom had their alerts set to news only, he took advantage of getting updates from the all over the web. Other tools like GoogleNews and GoogleTrends are also great for the savvy journalist to stay on top of what’s popular and who’s covering what subjects to what extent. While the feature certainly does not replace reading blogs and news on your own time (Google has that covered too with its RSS Reader), it’s a great tool to stay ahead of the curve and facilitate the exploration of story ideas outside the usual fodder.

Blogging as journalism, other social media ethics concerns

25 Jan

The validity of blogging as a way to learn about the world around us has been legitimized more and more as people have come to realize not only the power of influence, but its strength in numbers. I had last mentioned aggregation blogs like The Huffington Post that have become staples in day-to-day news gathering for many, and blogs about topics ranging from gardening to public policy are shaping the way we view our interests and each other.

Because blogs and social media platforms have permeated into the journalistic sphere, there has been a call for guidelines to avoid the perpetuation of false or misleading information based on tweets or Facebook updates from “eye-witnesses” and news outlets looking to break a story before their competitors. The Radio Television Digital News Association compiled a set of standards for news outlets to abide by, especially noting the need for accuracy and fairness.

“Twitter’s character limits and immediacy are not excuses for inaccuracy and unfairness,” the RTDNA article said.

Many have argued that blogs need not be held to the same strict ethical standard as traditional journalism, but at what point does a blog cease to be a publicly accessible diary and begin to play an influential role in the mainstream media?

A recent Technorati article called into question what a blog exactly was, drawing from the textbook definition, blogging apparatuses’ definitions, and from ProBlogger Darren Rowse. All seemed to agree on one common thread — blogs are for anything. The advent of tagging — which neatly groups posts based on subject — has made it easier for readers to filter what they read in order to maximize their blogging experience. Armchair Theorist, a blog run by a Microsoft Regional Product Manager for Internet Explorer, explores the 10 best tagging practices. The New York Times and ESPN also recently launched user-friendly “second screens” for readers to follow along with while watching television. Methods like these developed to maximize social media’s audience have increased the need to acknowledge blogs, Twitter and the like as a viable means of journalism.

A Media Bistro article detailing the way the news cycle has adapted to new media shows how these new techniques have influenced and complicated the way news is distributed. It makes an excellent point that a blog that serves solely as a solitary medium (it’s not attached to a bigger overall news brand) uses its online platform as its sole distributor of information, and a larger news outlet that is desperate to break a story will be quick to post it online faster than it would on its primary medium, such as print or television broadcast.

News outlets such as NPR have been embracing this new media revolution and experimenting with regional beat blogs on various topics ranging from education to immigration. In addition to The Argo Project pushing the envelope on fostering blogging among an audience, it also taught reporters about the nuances of blogging who previously had limited experience with social media and web content. Although The Argo Project’s NPR funding ends at the conclusion of the project, the 12 participating stations are trying to keep the blogs going on an open-source system due to their overwhelming popularity. The ever-changing online atmosphere has sparked the need to analyze how the project would have evolved had it begun in 2012 instead of 2010, which goes to show just how dynamic a medium the Internet and blogging is overall. For instance, the newest revelations in web savvy have been to embrace a group dynamic and team playing, as well as incorporating proficient editing skills and meshing articles and topic stories. Nevertheless, the popularity of this project shows just how much influence a blog can have over an audience.

In the end, new media ethics is a frontier that is not fully understood. However, the same journalistic standards can definitely be said to apply to any medium that reaches a large audience. If you have an audience, you have an obligation to said audience to give them accurate, reliable information.