Monday 12 September 2011

So how has social media changed the way newsrooms work?

Last Friday, Kevin Bakhurst, the deputy head of the BBC newsroom gave a talk at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam.

He asked and subsequently answered: How has social media changed the way newsrooms work?

A good question.

So I thought I'd have a go as well. Not an exhaustive list by any means and you could flesh out a few things but a reasonable starting point...

1. Organisational
a) Digital tools facilitate easier cross-departmental co-operation.
b) Establishment of specialist departments to filter, sift and verify material published and submitted by the 'former audience' (E.g. UGC hub at BBC, Iran Election desk at CNN, 2009).
c) Integration of these departments into wider newsroom. No longer an add-on to traditional newsgathering but essential and central part of that operation. (E.g. BBC's UGC hub moves from 7th floor at Television Centre to main newsroom area 2007-8).
d) Creation of new roles - social media editors; community managers; interactivity editors; UGC journalists; livebloggers.

2. Newsroom culture
a) (Easy to forget these days....) Acceptance of digital sources as legitimate places where journalists might find valuable news and information that can be incorporated into news stories.
b) Emergence of a spirit of journalism which views autonomy as shared with the audience rather than the result of independent inquiry. 'Shared' and 'independent' understandings exist alongside one another in newsrooms...
c) first-hand journalism is coupled to newsroom journalism which benefits from hundreds of online sources
d) Efforts made to be more transparent about the process of journalism - explanations of editorial decisions and the limitations of news reporting.
e) Speed of news cycle deemed to have increased.
f) Personal public profile of an increasing number of journalists important to maintenance of news brand (E.g. Previously off screen producers now highly visible on Twitter).
g) Aspiration for a model of conversational/interactive journalism despite difficulties of making it work in practice.
h) Creation of new editorial guidelines for online content.
i) Greater awareness of instant audience feedback to journalism

3. News content
a) Adoption of social media platforms as outlets for traditional media content. Blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube, Twitter, Liveblogs, Flickr, Tumblr, etc etc...leading to...
b) Exploration of different modes of online reporting. Shift from 'inverted pyramid' model towards 'live updates'. Increased incorporation of audience comment. "Data journalism" sourced from the 'former audience' and subsequent visualisations (E.g. Ushahidi, #uksnow map). Convergence of genres and establishment of multimedia news as the norm.

4. Shifting values
a) Immediacy and accuracy vs speed - speed of news cycle and the ability of individuals to publish immediately leads to new understandings of accuracy and processes of verification...
b) Verification I - a move from 'verify, then publish' towards 'publish (with attribution to the source) then verify'. Increased online engagement with rumour, half-truths and emerging reports. Establishing the 'truth' is an evolving potentially participatory experience.
c) Verification II - development of "forensic" analysis of social media content as well as collaborative and 'crowdsourced' models.
d) Transparency as 'objectivity'? The hyperlink and an increased 'news hole' on the Web allows space for openness about sources and transparency about biases. But resisted by news orgs - volume of links out limited as news sites want visitors to stay on their own site. Some news orgs have retained emphasis on value of 'objective' and/or 'impartial' approach (see below).  

5. A few limits
a) Public emphasis on adherence to traditional journalistic standards and practices to safeguard the professionalism of journalism.
b) Maintenance of robust understandings of what is deemed to be newsworthy in traditional media.
c) Restraints of time, money and scale limit the interactive potential of conversational news. Audience members tend to interact with each other rather than with journalists. (E.g. Twitter hashtags).
d) Various news organisations steer clear of the embrace of subjective content retaining an emphasis on 'objective' and 'impartial' news (Economist, BBC). Although the proliferation of partial, opinionated journalism challenges these organisations for attention, it also strengthens their USP.

Friday 2 September 2011

10 research articles on blogging, Twitter, UGC and journalism 2010-1

So I'm doing my viva examination for the PhD later this month - nothing like a couple of hours worth of questioning as reward for several years hard work.

In preparation for the impending engagement, I'm trying to get a handle on the latest research around blogging and related subjects. And I thought I'd collect them here for those of you who are interested...

(Afraid these are all institutional or Athens-type log-in access only...which forms part of the complaint about academic publishers in this recent article in The Guardian.)

1. D. Murthy, Twitter: Microphone for the Masses? Media, Culture and Society, 2011
"Twittering citizen journalists are ephemeral, vanishing after their 15 minutes in the limelight. In most instances, they are left unpaid and unknown. Although individual citizenjournalists usually remain unknown, Twitter has gained prominence as a powerful media outlet...It is from this perspective that Twitter affords citizen journalists the possibility to break profound news stories to a global public."
2. M. El-Nawahy & S. Khamis, Political Blogging and (Re) Envisioning the Virtual Public Sphere: Muslim— Christian Discourses in Two Egyptian Blogs, Int. Journal of Press/Politics, 2011
"Our analysis showed that although there was a genuine Habermasian public sphere reflected in some of the threads on the two blogs, there was a general lack of rational— critical debates, reciprocal deliberations, and communicative action as envisioned by Habermas. It also showed that this newly (re)envisioned virtual public sphere aimed to revitalize civil society, through broadening the base of popular participation, which in turn led to boosting and expanding the concept of citizen journalism, beyond the official sphere of mainstream media."
3. S. Steensen, Online Journalism and the Promises of New Technology, Journalism Studies, 2011
Useful survey of current research into hypertext, interactivity and multimedia.
4. A.M. Jonsson & H. Ornebring, User-Generated Content and the News, Journalism Practice, 2011
"Our results show that users are mostly empowered to create popular culture-oriented content and personal/everyday life-oriented content rather than news/informational content. Direct user involvement in news production is minimal. There is a clear political economy of UGC: UGC provision in mainstream media to a great extent addresses users-as-consumers and is part of a context of consumption."
5. Williams et al, Have they got news for us?, Journalism Practice, 2011
"Our data suggest that, with the exception of some marginal collaborative projects, rather than changing the way most news journalists at the BBC work, audience material is firmly embedded within the long-standing routines of traditional journalism practice."
6. A. Hermida, Twittering the News, Journalism Practice, 2010
"Traditional journalism defines fact as information and quotes from official sources, which have been identified as forming the vast majority of news and information content. This model of news is in flux, however, as new social media technologies such as Twitter facilitate the instant, online dissemination of short fragments of information from a variety of official and unofficial sources."
7. C. Neuberger & C. Nuernbergk, Competition, Complementarity or Integration?, Journalism Practice, 2010
"At first glance, three different relations can be identified between professional and participatory media: competition, complementarity and integration. We found little evidence that weblogs or other forms of participatory media are replacing traditional forms of journalism. It seems to be more likely that they complement one another. Besides this, we observed that the integration of audience participation platforms into news websites is expansive."
8. G. Walejko & T. Ksiazek, Blogging from the Niches, Journalism Studies, 2010
"Results indicate that science bloggers often link to blogs and the online articles of traditional news media, similar to political bloggers writing about the same topics. Science bloggers also link heavily to academic and non-profit sources, differing from political bloggers in this study as well as previous research."
9.  A. Kuntsman, Webs of hate in diasporic cyberspaces: the Gaza War in the Russian-language blogosphere, Media, War and Conflict, 2010
"This article looks at ways in which a military conflict can produce circuits of hatred in online social spaces. Ethnographically, the article is based on the analysis of selected discussions of Israeli warfare in Gaza in 2008 and 2009 as they took place in the Russian-language networked blogosphere."
10. T. Johnson & B. Kaye, Believing the Blogs of War?, Media, War and Conflict, 2010
"This study surveyed those who used blogs for information about the war in Iraq...In both 2003 and 2007, blog users judged blogs as more credible sources for war news than traditional media and their online counterparts. This study also found that different types of blogs were rated differently in terms of credibility in 2007 with military and war blogs rated the most credible and media blogs being judged the lowest in credibility."
Let me know if you spot any good ones I've missed out...

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