Wednesday 25 April 2012

BBC journalist Stuart Hughes on newsgathering with Twitter and social media

In this video, World Affairs Producer Stuart Hughes talks about his use of social media at the BBC. He was speaking on a course organised by the BBC College of Journalism on 20 April 2012:

I spoke to Stuart Hughes several times while writing my thesis on the impact of blogging on the BBC's coverage of war and terrorism.

There are a few things worth picking out here about his changing practices in the newsroom.

Just one to get you started is Stuart's shift away from ENPS towards Hootsuite, a Twitter application.

The Essential News Production System is a piece of software designed by the Associated Press which provides all BBC journalists with news and information from news agency sources and other BBC journalists. First installed in 1996, it is also used to produce TV and radio programmes.

In the video, Stuart points out that he still has ENPS open somewhere on his desktop, but for newsgathering he'll mostly be looking at Hootsuite which allows him to monitor many more sources on Twitter.

Using Hootsuite, Stuart has built different Twitter lists for various news topics and stories so he can keep across developments in each area. Notably, these are not public lists, but are kept private in an attempt to compete with rival news organisations.

If you watch the video, it's also worth looking out for a question halfway through where a member of the audience asks whether Stuart uses Twitter as a "single source", which relates to the BBC's practices over sourcing information.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Twitter coverage of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway

Just flagging up an article I wrote for Index on Censorship for the often unrewarded and hardy followers of this blog.

Among other things, I ask: does it make sense to ban the cameras but not the tweeters from the Breivik trial?

(You know the score by now): to read more click here.

Friday 13 April 2012

Is blogging journalism? A 'celebration' of ten years of asking the wrong question

Martin Belam is off. Leaving The Guardian for something new. Bon voyage sir!

But before he left, he posted a great blog [included especially for Adam Tinworth] about the confusion surrounding journaling and bloggism. 

Martin was so piqued by a recent tweet from Media Bistro asking: "Are bloggers journalists?" that he was compelled to try to find out the first online reference to the great question of our age:
"The earliest explicit mention of the question I have been able to unearth via Google though is from 11th April 2002. 
"On David F. Gallagher’s blog of pictures of New York City, he posted a link to an article entitled “Are bloggers journalists?” with the URL 
"Sadly has disappeared, so I can’t retrieve the actual piece."
In other words, Martin notes, we've just celebrated the 10th anniversary of this particular non-conundrum. 

But enough of this already.

Let's just call a blog a blog

I'm off to find an ice cream strawberry.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Research: A Twitter Revolution in Breaking News


Twitter facilitates the spread of news and information enabling individuals to combat censorship and undermine the stranglehold of state-controlled media. It is undoubtedly playing a significant role in a rapidly evolving digital media landscape and 21st century politics. But journalists’ dubbing of the events in Moldova, Iran, Tunisia and Egypt as “Twitter revolutions” is perhaps more reflective of the experience of their own changing working practices than the politics on the ground. It points to a Twitter revolution occurring in the newsrooms of media organisations, evident in the increasing importance of Twitter for journalists covering breaking news stories.

The Paper

Available here to download from the Social Science Research Network.


Bennett, D., 'A Twitter Revolution in Breaking News' in Keeble, R. & J. Mair (eds.), Face the Future: Tools for the Modern Media Age, (Abramis, 2011), pp. 63-73.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Research: "A Gay Girl in Damascus", the Mirage of the "Authentic Voice" and the Future of Journalism


In the 21st century journalists are making judgements, usually at speed, about whether to trust the identity of a “real” person through their “virtual” representation. 

In order to maintain their cultural dominance over the representation of reality and their role in making sense of the world, journalists and news organisations have thus far reiterated their commitment to traditional practices of fact-checking and verification.

This article demonstrates, however, that traditional journalistic practice was not sufficient to spot the Gay Girl in Damascus hoax - a fake blog set up in Syria during the 'Arab Spring'. Instead, it was the adoption of a networked approach to journalism that ultimately uncovered the author, Tom MacMaster.

The article shows that increasingly, understanding and representing reality requires a “mutualistic interaction” between traditional news organisations and the new models of journalism, enabling us to identify, hear and amplify the “authentic voices” calling for political and social change around the world.

The Paper 

Available here to download from the Social Science Research Network. 


Bennett, D., 'A "Gay Girl in Damascus", the Mirage of the "Authentic Voice" and the Future of Journalism' in Keeble, R. & J. Mair (eds.), Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the Arab Spring, (Abramis, 2011), pp. 187-195.
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