18
Jun
09

Links for today | Links para hoje


5. The symbiosis of mainstream media and Twitter

I have written numerous times about the symbiosis of mainstream media and social media– each feeds on the other. I also used this metaphor as a central element of my Future of Media Strategic Framework below.

Future_of_Media_Strategic_Framework.jpg

This is and should be exactly the relationship between mainstream media and Twitter. Absolutely, Twitter largely feeds off established media channels. In fact it is rapidly becoming one of the most important ways for people to assess which mainstream media stories they choose to read. Twitterers select what’s most interesting, and then often comment on it, creating real-time conversations out of a static media piece.

However mainstream media is feeding off Twitter too. As Twitter grows its user base it is becoming not just a source of breaking news, but also a deep and broad indicator of sentiment and social change. News stories are not all about cataclysmic events, but also about how we are changing as a society. Journalists who do not look to Twitter as an early indicator or potential source of stories are missing a great opportunity to tap the zeitgeist.

Some Workarounds

The above list may seem depressingly long, but never fear! There are ways to fake flexibility and nimbly try new things. Although I can’t speak from experience, I’m going to throw a few ideas out there — take ’em or leave ’em.

  • Start Small — Since the dawn of time, people have found ways to lessen the blow when dealing with large scale projects: developers make prototypes, web applications have closed betas, and cavemen probably made miniature wheels before trying full-sized ones. Not everything needs to be launched full-featured and full-scale up front. Pick a small group of people to try the new internal project first, or set up a smaller portion of the feature set, or just use default settings instead of spending hours tweaking to perfection. Doing these things will give you time to work out kinks, get feedback, and figure out how/if the new service might be used before you spin your wheels.
  • Many journalists — whether they choose to admit it or not — are scared of trying to make a living in a world where anyone can report.

    It’s true that the Web, smartphones, social media, blogs, etc are making it easy for everyone to report and share their stories, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need for professional journalists. In fact, I’d argue that citizen journalism, while helping to cover the world better, only highlights the need for professional journalists.

    Over the past few days, I’ve extolled the virtues of social media in covering the unrest in Iran. True, without social media, this story might not be told properly, but there still has been a large need for professional reporters.

    The launch of a cross-party select committee’s investigation into the future of newspapers in the UK today was overshadowed by the ominous prediction that half of the nation’s local and regional papers will be lost within the next five years.

    The predictions are based on research conducted by the media analysts, Enders Media.  Its founder, Claire Enders, voiced her concerns in front of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee this morning:

    “We are expecting that up to half of all the 1,300 titles will close in the next five years.”

    In the beginning, I thought that all a newspaper had to do to save itself was to embrace multimedia and video.  However, after being a proponent of this approach for over three years, I began to see that this was also not working. Newspapers were still dying and it seemed there wasn’t a heck of a lot anyone could do about it.

    Newspapers were becoming obsolete because of the medium on which they are printed:

    • Newspapers take a lot of capital to create. Think: printing presses, ink, trucks, man-power.
    • Newspapers do not allow for comments, hyperlinks, video, or real-time updates. It’s a one-way conversation.
    • Newspapers are out of date the minute they are delivered.

    By all measures, the newspaper is inferior to the instant delivery of news over the Internet and mobile phones because the news is trapped in the inferior medium of PAPER.

    NPR has an interesting piece on a small ad agency in New York that has opened its doors to those in the profession who are looking for work. The job seekers get a place to research job opportunities and a place to network. The ad agency gets more sounding boards for new ideas and, occasionally, more new ideas from the job seekers.

    Seems like a model some newsrooms, with plenty of extra desk space these days, should entertain.

    The Web is a lot different than a print edition. When you are holding a newspaper in your hands, that’s the only source of information you have accessible to you at that moment. When you are on the Web, you are always just one click away from more, and sometimes better, information.

    Of course, we always want the stories we produce to be the best available, but we shouldn’t be afraid to give our readers a broader perspective by linking out to others, even when we consider them competitors.

    Earlier today, I read a blog post by Ryan Sholin, the director of news innovation at Publish2, a company that creates tools to help journalists to use links as a basic part of their reporting process.

    Sholin quotes Chris Amico, the interactive editor for the PBS Online NewsHour, saying: “Humility is healthy. The more we get out of this mind set that we are the sole producers of useful content, the better off we’ll be in the long run.”

    I couldn’t agree more.


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