Monday 30 March 2009

Teaching yourself social media and other stuff

I've been tied up with drafting and re-drafting a paper for a New Media and Information conference in Athens in May.

This doesn't make for particularly interesting blog material unfortunately, and I'll probably be redrafting it again just as soon as my supervisor comes back to me with his comments.

If you're going to the conference by the way, do get in touch. (Email address is on the sidebar somewhere...)

In the meantime, here's some other bits and pieces I've been reading as a break from the mind-numbingly monotous task of changing a referencing system across a whole paper.
  • Social Media
Can you teach yourself social media, and even if you can, would it still be worth doing an MA in Social Media at Birmingham City University?

If you think it's the former you should comment on the Daily Mail's website. If you think it's the latter then go to The Guardian's article and leave your tuppence there. If you want to see more of the debate head over to #masocialmedia or check out the ever-increasing list of news articles.
  • What is the Huffington Post?
Andrew Keen thinks the Huffington Post is a newspaper not a blog. One reason why he thinks this is because the Post has recently placed more emphasis (i.e. cash) on investigative journalism.
  • Plans for BBC Online in 2009
Sarah Hartley records the thoughts of Pete Clifton, the BBC's head of editorial development for multimedia journalism.

Thursday 19 March 2009

BBC's blogs: opinion or judgement?

The BBC have updated their blogs. They're wider, neater and have a few extra features. (Not everyone is happy about the wider columns, mind).

Aaaron Scullion, who is the Senior Product Manager for the blogs, reckons that:
"In design terms, I think they feel like a core part of the BBC website now (maybe for the first time)"
Meanwhile, Newswatch debated the role of the BBC's blogs. They got hold of the Daily Mail's Stephen Glover who recently criticised the BBC's bloggers.

In this video below (just take a moment to bask in the knowledge that, finally, we can embed BBC content), Glover reiterates his line that BBC journalists can't write blogs without including their opinion.

Another Stephen, Mr Mitchell, the deputy director of BBC News says this is not the case. He says that blogs go through the same editorial process as any other content and insists that BBC journalists offer their analysis and judgement not their opinion.

He admitted that the informality of the blog style did mean the line between the two was finer than on a news bulletin. I would like to know just what the difference between personal opinion and professional judgement is.

(In my personal opinion, the new BBC blogs are much better. Based on 18 months researching blogs my professional judgement is that the BBC blogs are much better. Maybe that's the difference there - evidence. But I've selected the evidence and maybe I've just been looking at the wrong blogs all this time and I've missed some of the better designs. What if my professional judgement is an elaborately constructed personal opinion...anyway I could go on with this 'off the top of my head' rambling but need to dash. But I'll be thinking about all that).

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Double-checking Twitter and journalism more generally

A couple of weeks back, I picked up that Krishnan Guru-Murthy had said during an interview that Twitter is not checked at Channel 4.

A couple of things by way of follow up.

First, I said I'd be surprised if any of the BBC's Twitter feeds are checked either. So I was surprised when I discovered that the BBC's Global News feed does actually pass through an editorial process whereby someone double-checks a tweet before it is published.

Although the way this feed is being used does mean double-checking is feasible - it's not being used as a conversational tool in the manner of Rory Cellan-Jones's feed for example. Rather, as a way of promoting interesting BBC material on foreign affairs.
Second, I've been meaning to pull Charlie Beckett's contribution on this out from the comments section of this blog. So here it is:
Charlie Beckett said...

"....It looks weird at first glance but in television especially, there are a thousand things that a journalist will do when making TV news that aren't double-checked. Did you source the pictures? did you double check the stats? when you wrote the caption did you double check the name spelling?
On 24 hour news we have got used to journalists saying that 'we have breaking news - this is all we know - we will try to confirm it and get back to you with the full facts.' as long as are transparent on Twitter and don't make the claim that it can do as much as other more spacious media platforms, than it will be fine. Krishnan is a great example of someone who knows how to use it and to make the most of what it does."

I think this raises an interesting point about the extent of continuity or change in so-called 'new' media platforms. It's all too easy to get sucked into the hurly-burly of the newness of media technology, when a short step back away from it all will quickly reveal some age-old editorial concerns.

Charlie's comment also begs these questions (at least in my mind) - what do journalists' double-check and why. What doesn't get checked and why? Does the checking process make any sense?

(After the recent Ross/Brand debacle, checking at the BBC appears to be tighter than the lid of a never-previously-opened jam jar. So much so that yesterday, the BBC's (soon-to-be) former blogger-in-residence, Steve Bowbrick, described "catastrophic levels of caution" at the Corporation.)

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Links for today: Twitter, RSS and blogging

Haven't done one of these posts for ages. Tend to push links through my Twitter feed these days. But anyway for your dereliction or delight here are a few things I've been reading:

  • For those of you just can't take it anymore, here's the Daily Show's John Stewart who says what you're all thinking.
  • Various journalists explain how they use RSS feeds to do journalism in the comments section of this open post.
  • So 2005, but still so much to be resolved. Kevin Anderson highlights some of the issues that have cropped up as a result of the festering NUJ row.
  • Though budget airline Ryanair might usefully take a trip back to 2005 and learn a few basics. This is a case study in how not to engage with bloggers.
P.S. And if you're interested in counterinsurgency and social media, check out my latest post at the Frontline Club.
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