Tuesday 30 June 2009

Twitter, Iran and journalism

There have been all sorts of reflections on Twitter and journalism recently. Here's a few that caught my eye...
"Errors are amplified in this media environment because most Twitter followers and bloggers aren’t so much validating and confirming their facts as they are reinforcing an opinion or statement they already agree with. But while the social media sphere is a business of corroboration for regular people, it should not remain so for journalists."
"Piece by piece, the story came together before our eyes, in public. The journalists added considerable value. But this wasn’t product journalism: polishing a story once a day from inside the black box. This was process journalism and that ensured it was also collaborative journalism – social journalism, if you like."
  • A couple of Twitter sceptics are forced to reconsider their position after seeing tweets from Iran - Ellen Goodman and Gideon Rachman. (Note how the authors use the same idea in opening paragraph in some sort of strange 'I-see-how-Twitter-can-be-useful-but-I-wouldn't-go-so-far-as-to-actually-update-my-own-account' show of solidarity).

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Curating media coverage on the Iran Election

I've been gathering links on the continued trouble in Iran with the calm frenzy of an obsessive stamp collector.

I've stuck all the links up on my Frontline blog.

If you missed yesterday's offering, hop on over here or if you're well-ahead of the blogging game, here is today's collection.

The Future of International Broadcasting

The BBC's Director of Global News (far left of panel) discusses the Future of International Broadcasting at Reuters yesterday.

Laura Oliver, who was sitting a few rows behind me, has a good summary of what Richard Sambrook said at Well worth a read for his thoughts on the end of the old foreign correspondent model in the face of economic pressures.

While he urged broadcasters to "embrace" UGC as a "valuable supplement" and a way of capturing the "authenticity" of news events, he also said the "expertise of seasoned journalists" was still required.

Generally, the panel was optimistic about the future, expressing particular confidence in state funding and pledging to continue to send journalists to all parts of the world.

Monday 15 June 2009

Tweet of the day on journalism

I know it's pretty early on in Monday's grand scheme but this is a classic from journalist Rob Crilly:
'Interesting talk with one of my editors last week. "That job is too junior for you, mostly online stuff." Some papers still don't get it'
I think I might end up referencing some of these sort of nuggets in the PhD, which will probably mean making up my own reference system.

I doubt they'll be much guidance in my King's College handbook. After all, it tells me that when citing Internet sources:
"You should beware when using information from the internet as it can be easily changed (hacked), often does not give an author [?] and is consequently not authoritative. However, if you [yes, you. You crazy 21st Century researcher] do want to cite internet sources [pretty unavoidable I'm afraid when you're researching blogging] it is worthwhile seeking a copy of the source as well [ha - print your blog for me please...], or as a last resort printing and keeping a copy of the internet information [!] (which could be shown to the external examiner if necessary [let's hope it's not for the sake of the rainforests, my sanity and the external examiner's summer holiday])."

Friday 12 June 2009

Abusing (and using) the blog

Sorry folks, I'm abusing my blog for research purposes by embedding the video below. It's an example of a military blog making the news, so I wanted to make sure I didn't lose track of it.

It's about Col Sgt Michael Saunders (2 Mercian) who has been blogging while on deployment in Afghanistan. I wrote a piece which included a reference to his blog for the Frontline last week. I missed the fact that his pub/blog posts had made the news back in April because I was preparing for a conference.

The great thing about blogging is that when you post stuff up people get in touch with you, and I was really pleased to get an email from Mike's brother, Tracey Tyrls, who features in video. I've been following that up this morning.

(Beats working on interview transcribing. Yesterday I finally wrapped up several days work on one that came to 18,908 words. I am left wondering how the people at Hansard transcribe sessions of parliament and remain sane).

Friday 5 June 2009

MoD and digital media: “We haven’t gripped it, but we’re getting there”

"I could not write about the past week without mentioning the tragic death of Rifleman Adrian Sheldon. Shelly was a much loved member of the Fire Support Platoon here at FOB [Forward Operating Base] Inkerman and his loss has been extremely hard to come to terms with."
In among the stories about political meltdown you may not have noticed a steady string of British military casualties in Afghanistan. Rfn Sheldon was one of 12 fatalities in May – the worst month in this respect for British forces since June last year. In the run up to the elections in Afghanistan coalition faces are expected to confront an insurgency determined to disrupt the democratic process. 
MODblog.jpgThe stories of soldiers in Afghanistan might have been slightly lost in the mainstream media agenda recently. But the development of the Frontline Bloggers blog means British soldiers have a new outlet for their experiences, from the tragic as expressed above by 2Lt Tom Parry to the more mundane.
The blog, which is the run by the Ministry of Defence offers "a window into UK ops in Afghanistan through the eyes of British soldiers", and began in April as an offshoot of the Helmand Blog with a post by Lt Col Simon Banton. 
Since then the blog has grown. A notable addition was that of Colour Sergeant Michael Saunders who made national news last month as a consequence of his dispatches from Afghanistan. Initially Col Sgt Saunders sent emails to his sister in Worcester. She displayed them in a local pub and then allowed the man behind Frontline Bloggers to incorporate them on the site.
Major Paul Smyth
That man was Major Paul Smyth. Unlike many others who work in Media Operations, Smyth is a Territorial Army soldier who runs his own PR firm. This background helped him recognise the value of Internet tools – they "convey what you are doing incredibly quickly" and are relatively simple to use once "you’ve got a basic toolkit".
For Smyth, engaging with social media tools is valuable for several reasons. A blog enables him to collect the material being produced by serving soldiers. He feels their posts offer "a different flavour" of what is happening on the ground and provide an outlet for stories that wouldn’t always make the national news. 
"More importantly", he says, "it adds to and complements the overall communications strategy by developing the breadth of content and delivering it via more non-traditional means to new audiences."
All the posts on Frontline Bloggers are administered through command in theatre and the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, London. Posts are checked to make sure they comply with operational security, but Smyth says most bloggers are usually aware of what not to say.
Major Smyth has also been busy launching a MediaOps Twitter feed over the last month.
He admits that the organisation still hasn’t "gripped" everything. Soldiers still have difficulties getting material back from Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan and technological change means it’s a struggle to keep pace with the communications industry.
But it’s clear that the Ministry of Defence has increased its social media offering since my first post for this blog, just over a year ago. Major Paul Smyth hopes it’s the start of something much larger.   

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Links for today on blogging

  • Former Iranian President, Mohamad Khatami, wants to see Mir Hussein Mousavi as Iranian president. Khatami thought it would be a good idea to answers questions from Iran's bloggers. According to Global Voices, he "loves blogs". But then slamming blogs just prior to fielding questions from their authors probably wouldn't be the way forward.
  • The Reuters Institute had a roundtable discussion on blogging at some point recently. It produced some global perspectives on the impact of blogging on journalism in various countries.
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