#ALJ710 Journalists are getting social

There is immense pressure on Journalists these days to be able to do it all.  Not only are they expected to competently write dense, feature articles, it is expected that they film and edit their own content and now- confidently handle the many new social media platforms that are thrust upon them (and us!) almost daily.

As to the notion of scoops and breaking news, a lot of tips or leads these days are from the web or what’s “trending” in social networks like Twitter. (Alejandro, 2010)

News these days is now being broken on social media, with tips and scoops coming from platforms such as Twitter.  Gone are the days of journalists having the time to form a full story.  We as an audience are determining how and when we get our news and because of this journalists are having to pick up the pace.  The risk of waiting means that journalists may be out-scooped by competitors or, even worse- a citizen journalist!

Check out a podcast I recorded of examples of how Twitter has been used to break major news stories from around the world.

What’s the problem with social media as a breaking news form?

The concern is, if anyone can break the news on social media- who are we to believe?

This new style of ‘citizen journalism’ can be a double edged sword at times and one of the clearest recent examples of this occurred on the site Reddit, as the search for the Boston Bombing suspect was taking place. Because of unchecked facts, a manhunt for the wrong man – who eventually wound up being found dead from an apparent suicide – began. (DeMers, 2013)

How can Journalists avoid making this mistake?

Verify, verify, verify
Aside from using reverse image searches. Steve Buttry (2013) wrote a comprehensive blog post on the ways in which Journalists can verify information from social media. He suggests the following:

  • Check the time of the tweet.
  • Check for photos that help validate the story.
  • Check the location of the user.
  • Check previous tweets to fill in the gaps in a story.
  • Attempt to connect with the user (phone, email) to validate information.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so check out the link for helpful tips from Buttry.

It is a journalist’s role to ensure that any information is fact-checked and verified before release.  But it’s clear that this does not always happen .


References:

Alejandro, J 2010, ‘Journalism in the age of Social Media’, Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, University of Oxford, retrieved 23 August 2016, retrieved from : < https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Journalism%20in%20the%20Age%20of%20Social%20Media.pdf >

DeMers, J 2013, ‘How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism’, The Huffington Post, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-social-media-is-suppo_b_3239076.html >

Buttry, S 2013, ‘How to verify information from tweets: Check it out’, The Buttry Diary, weblog post, retrieved 20 August 2016, < https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/how-to-verify-information-from-tweets-check-it-out/ >

 

#ALJ710 Journalists living for live streaming

I remember the first time I heard about live streaming. It was about 18 months ago and I was walking in a runway over in London.  As we walked out for the finale a lady in the front row- her face shielded by her phone yelled out “Do something exciting, you’re on my Periscope!” I later found out that a couple thousand people tuned in to see my stunned mullet face in that moment. Nearly two years later- and it’s difficult to avoid hearing about live streaming apps and their worldwide domination.

 The benefit of live streaming for celebrities and social media influencers is clear, but how does this platform assist journalists?

Trendkite (2016) explains that the immediacy is one of the big factors.  Journalists are able to pick up the camera and begin filming through their app of choice, almost as soon as they get wind of a story.  They can forget about lugging around expensive filming equipment and time consuming post production editing- live streaming is not so much about the look of the piece- but the content itself. Rod Atkins from the BBC  explains that more often than not, content is lead by comments and questions from the audience.

I go in with a single big idea I’m interested in hearing the audience’s views on. That way, the content is 100 percent led by the issues they raise. (Atkins, 2016)

Trendkite also explains that the technology itself provides helpful insights such as followers and views to determine the success of engagement.

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Twitter’s Periscope App TODAY Show NBC by Anthony Quintano. (CC BY 2.0)

So how could it go wrong?

As mentioned in one of my previous blog posts from my Social Media unit, the issue is that anyone with a smart phone and an internet connection can now attempt to take on the role of trained journalists. Trendkite explains that it’s just about working harder than the citizens to ensure that they are adding value and credibility. The downside to the immediacy of live-streaming means that journalists don’t necessarily have the time to fact check everything before they go to air.

As events and stories unfold instantly without giving sufficient time to synthesize information and compose quality work, journalists will have to adapt and learn what is essentially a new skill. Reporters have always had to balance the need to get information out quickly with the need to get it right, but with live streaming they’ll be doing it in real-time and without a net. (Trendkite, 2016)

Once again journalists must be willing to change with the times- adopting the use of various tech tools as they are released to avoid getting left behind and conquered by the new wave of “try-hard journo’s” with an iPhone.


References:

Unknown, 2016, ‘How Live Streaming Platforms Are Changing Journalism‘, Trendkite, weblog post, 29 March, 19 September 2016, < http://www.trendkite.com/blog/how-live-streaming-platforms-are-changing-journalism >

Davies, J 2016, ‘Six months in: What the BBC has learned using Facebook Live’, Digiday UK, weblog post, 9 June, 19 September 2016, < http://digiday.com/publishers/six-months-bbc-learned-using-facebook-live/ >

 

Breaking News in 140 characters or less

Before the internet, breaking the news was strictly the job of professionals who had extensive training, access and control of resources that us mere mortals did not. But now, the world of journalism could not be more different.  Do you have a smart phone and access to an internet connection? Well, congratulations you could now be a gate-keeper of a wealth of information and knowledge or- simply a pile of poorly researched, inaccurate dribble!

Posting on a website, blog or Facebook page – even writing an email – is a new form of publishing…(social media) enables the amateurisation of communication.  To sum up the position: the profession of journalism becomes obsolete because the social media have democratised publishing. (Dimitrov 2014, p.4)
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Journalists At Play by Lisa Padilla (CC BY 2.0)

At the end of 2015 there were roughly 12.9 million internet subscribers in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The audience is now forgoing the more traditional methods of news in favour of the world of online.  News organisations and journalists themselves have been forced to adapt, or simply bust. Our changing requirements as readers, in combination with the saturation of technology is now defining what we are given by the news organisations. Kolodzy (2012, p.1) explains that the youth of today are favouring social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instant messaging as a way to receive news.  And as a youth of today (26 is still youthful!!), I would have to agree. My initial sources of news come from updates I see on my Facebook and Twitter news-feeds on my phone.

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1201 sn3 by studio tdes (CC BY 2.0)

Alejandro (2010, p.9) explains that the concept of scoops and leads have changed with the development of social media. A journalist’s tips for a story are now coming from the What’s Trending sections of Twitter or Facebook.  We as an audience are becoming increasingly impatient, we want our information in real time– forcing journalists to increase their pace ten-fold. We are now fed snippets of information as journalists themselves discover it.  The risk of waiting until a full story is formed, is that News outlets may find themselves out-scooped by competitors- or even worse, a member of the general public.  How embarrassing!

There have been many instances of social media breaking news before news organisations can even dream of having a full article printed.  Check out my podcast for some notable examples of this.

So what’s the big deal?

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2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’- Source: Social Media Today

There are a number of concerns when we look to social media as a reliable news source. We see in the above graphic from Social Media Today, that reporting breaking news in 140 characters or less (Twitter, for example) can be quite limiting when it comes to telling a story.  As mentioned earlier, when everyone has access to reporting news on social media, communication can be amateur– so who are we to believe? This has happened many times when we have been fed reports of celebrity deaths that turn out to be nothing but hoaxes.  Huffington Post, in their article about journalism changing at the hands of social media, mention the importance of checking facts.

This new style of ‘citizen journalism’ can be a double edged sword at times and one of the clearest recent examples of this occurred on the site Reddit, as the search for the Boston Bombing suspect was taking place. Because of unchecked facts, a manhunt for the wrong man – who eventually wound up being found dead from an apparent suicide – began. (DeMers, 2013)

The benefits of social media as a news source are simple.  Anyone with access to these platforms now has a voice and the potential to report news. It’s a quick and immediate way to release news, and unlike bulky cameras and recording equipment- mobile phones can go just about anywhere.

Sambrook (cited in Alejandro 2010, p.42) says ‘Bearing witness is a journalist’s job. This is something technology cannot provide’.  Despite the positives of social media as a breaking news form, we must not lose sight of the value of a journalist’s credibility.


References:

Dimitrov, R 2014, ‘Do social media spell the end of journalism as a profession?’, Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p1-16. 16p

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, Internet Activity, Australia, December 2015, cat. no. 8153.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics,  retrieved 23 August 2016, < http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8153.0/ >

Kolodzy, J 2012, ‘What’s old is new, what’s new is old’, ‘Practicing Convergence Journalism’, Routledge, p.1&5

Alejandro, J 2010, ‘Journalism in the age of Social Media’, Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, University of Oxford, retrieved 23 August 2016, retrieved from : < https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Journalism%20in%20the%20Age%20of%20Social%20Media.pdf >

Morejon, R 2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’, Social Media Today, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/how-social-media-replacing-traditional-journalism-news-source-infographic >

DeMers, J 2013, ‘How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism’, The Huffington Post, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-social-media-is-suppo_b_3239076.html >

Podcast References:

In Soundcloud Description.

#ALJ710 Why you’ll never lose your mojo-Mobile Journalism is here to stay.

Do you have a smart-phone with a reliable internet connection? Congratulations, you too could become a mobile journalist!

Mojo offers ways for people to become more digitally literate and powerful across a wide range of media. Citizens can become empowered to live and work in more digitally literate communities and environments. (Burum & Quinn 2015, p11)

The benefits for the general public are clear, they are empowered and given a voice through the use of their smartphones.

Viasen Soobramoney from Independent Media South Africa has the opinion that all journalists should and will become mobile journalists. Soobramoney, who was behind the first mojo newsroom in South Africa,   explained that changing the opinions of those in a traditional newsroom was initially challenging- but it’s something that needs to be embraced to cope with the changing landscape (Scott 2016).

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Filming in Teuton by Allissa Richardson (CC BY 2.0)

Logistically, mojo newsrooms are seeing the benefit of their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Mojo’s are recording and editing content in a much quicker amount of time- essentially cutting out the middle man.  They don’t have to worry about expensive cameras and recording technology, or setting up bulky equipment, organising large crews, or travelling back to the newsroom to file and edit footage- it can now be done by one journalist, all on the one device.
Check out how one Teacher is inspiring her students through the use of MOJO:

A heart-warming tale from South Africa- Journalist Allissa Richardson set up a MOJO lab in South Africa, teaching 10 HIV-positive young women how to film and edit their own content on iPod’s:

In the worlds of the Zulu Princesses that I taught, many of the girls were trapped instead in cycles of violence, self-doubt and the urge to cry out — even when no one was listening. Then, along came the digital age, and a tiny device gave them a voice. (Richardson 2012, p24)

So it all sounds pretty positive- what’s the problem then?

Despite this technology being accessible to just about anyone, we can’t forget the fact that just because you can do something- doesn’t mean you should. Burum and Quinn (2015, p.12) explain that in the hands of an amateur- it would simply result in rubbish, useless content.

Another issue is that quality can potentially be compromised in an effort to get the content recorded and online as quickly as possible to break the news first. Burum and Quinn (2015, p.18) explain that this is not much of a concern; audiences will be happy to put up with something of average quality, if the topic itself is interesting and newsworthy.


References:

Burum, I, Quinn, S 2015, MOJO: The Mobile Journalism Handbook : How to Make Broadcast Videos with an iPhone or iPad, Focal Press, Burlington, MA.

Scott, C 2016, ‘How mobile journalism is rising in popularity with journalists around the world’, Journalism.co.uk, weblog post, 29 April, retrieved 18 August 2016, < https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/how-mobile-journalism-is-rising-in-popularity-around-the-world/s2/a633170/ >

Allissa Richardson’s MOJO Lab 2012, YouTube, Bryant and Allissa Richardson, 28 November, retrieved 18 August 2016, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd2yJpekVhU >

Richardson, A 2012,’Mobile Journalism: a model for the future’,  Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 21 June, p24, retrieved 18 August 2016,   Vol. 29 Issue 10, Academic OneFile