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Twitter. Does your boss check you out?!

1 Apr

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

I went for an interview yesterday, for a work-experience placement at ITV. I was up to date with current affairs, the political situation in Libya and I had been watching ITV news all week. Enough, maybe, but I definitely would have prepared even more if I’d thought about the concept of my interviewer following me on Twitter?! One thing I hadn’t given any thought to was the state of my Twitter page. My profile, what does it say about me? Well I’ll tell you. The picture I have is of me lying on a bed in Beijing, waiting for a foot message. (From my traveling days.) There is nothing rude or inappropriate about the photo, just perhaps not the most professional photo I could have chosen. Also, I have a relatively low number of tweets (for a trainee journalist I suppose)…20 tweets to be precise. I am following 170 and am followed by 57….hardly 497,085 but a good start?!

Damn you Piers Morgan!

Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt sightly self conscious about any of my tweets, even though I don’t think I have ever ‘tweeted’ anything particularly offensive and/or controversial!  Quite the opposite in fact. In my opinion I use social media for what I believe to be all the right reasons. Journalistically I follow others who are in the know, I absorb the news feeds, I keep up to date with all the latest developments in current affairs and most importantly (in my view) I am able to find information and people, that I wouldn’t be able to, anywhere else. A good example of this was a recent package I produced for local TV station a month ago. For confidentiality reasons I won’t reveal the participants name, but he essentially gave me a lot of helpful and perhaps controversial pieces of information all through Twitter. What I am trying to say here is; just because I don’t use Twitter to report about my every moment, my every outing, my every meal (who would be interested anyway?) That doesn’t mean I am any less interested in social media. Perhaps I should tweet more. Perhaps I should spark up a debate with Lord Sugar…that should up my followers if nothing else!

Throughout all of my blogs, I have discussed the importance of social media in online journalism, AND, (you’ll be pleased to hear) I remain committed. I don’t see papers as ‘old news’ (excuse the pun) and I don’t want everyone to replace newspapers with twitter but what I do think is we have developed an amazing platform on which to transport information….to the world!

A website I visit regularly is stresses the importance of social media in online journalism. One bit of advice I picked up on recently was the following statement.

‘Try to offer original, stimulating and compelling content’

Watch out for my new and improved tweets..!

Also, I got the placement, so either I managed to impress at interview, or perhaps he hadn’t seen my Twitter page ; )


Social media and fake stories: how the journalist is reasserting control

22 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

One of the most significant aspects of using social media to generate online journalistic content is the speed with which stories break, spread and go viral.

But citizen journalists, unlike their official counterparts, don’t have the need to go to quite the same lengths to verify their sources and corroborate their stories. And the anonymity of the Internet makes it all that much harder.  The result? Hoaxes and false stories become trends faster than the mainstream media can pick up the phone to check the facts.

How do you trace a story you’ve heard from someone else, when that person heard it from someone else before and so on? Paul Bradshaw discusses a three-pronged approach to the issue: through content, context and code, he argues we can verify how true those unbelievable stories being disseminated over the Internet really are.  The chances are, they’re just that: unbelievable.

But, I would argue the non-story BECOMES a story by virtue of the speed at which it spreads and the reaction it engenders.  Doesn’t it say something of the nature of people consuming the news that the stories that get the biggest reader reaction – that is, the ones that make you go: “How funny/interesting/ridiculous! I best send that link on to X,Y and Z” – are rarely the big movers and shakers in terms of international importance.

Examples of these hoaxes can be found in their hundreds.  Take the latest story to do the rounds on FB: that Marck Zuckerberg would be shutting down FB on 15th March because of “stress”.

The one that sticks in my mind is the World Cup hysteria surrounding the alleged ban by the police on the St. George’s flag.  Now if ever there was a subject more perfectly poised to engender reaction it was this one.  Friends of mine, outraged, changed their FB statuses ad infinitum and we all decried the PC brigade for their anti-nationalist feeling.

Except it was a hoax.

FB posts like this one capitalised on World Cup fever and spread faster than England left the tournament

So while the outrage spread within minutes on social media, the traditional journalists didn’t see it.  Take the above post from one of my FB network; he posted this on 19th May 2010.  It was two days later that the BBC covered the story, revealing it to be a hoax.  It does not take two days to ring the police and confirm the story, an intern can do it in 10 minutes!

And when we had Charlie Sheen’s death announced on Twitter just weeks ago – twice – NowPublic began reporting it was more than just an innocuous, false story: it was a virus.  Hoaxes spread quickly and viruses are masquerading as them for this very reason.

So where do they come from? argue that the rise in hoax stories is symptomatic of our obsession with celebrity culture.  And these false stories are self-perpetuating because many celebrities who crave publicity are happy to profit from the attention.

These stories are false.  Reporting a false story is not journalism, reporting ON a false story is.  A case in point is the excellent Starsuckers documentary from 2009 – check out the YouTube video of it:

Once again, social media is helping to forge new inroads into online journalism – and the hoax stories are providing the raw materials to do this.

YouTube ranting – even less cool than Rebecca Black…

21 Mar

by Ben Miller

Just look at this video:

It epitomises everything that’s wrong with YouTube. Over the last 2 or 3 years, an internet fad has rapidly become a widespread obsession – especially on the other side of the Pond.

Scores of home-made videos began to appear on a site which had previously been a hotspot for people searching for music videos and free films.

Controversially though, is it journalism? Most of these video ‘bloggers’ air their [mostly tedious] opinions in a distinctly journalistic fashion, but is that purely due to the channelling of information?

One thing they most definitely are not is impartial, meaning that in the traditional sense of the word these would be (slash wannabe) professeurs de grâce can’t be considered journalists. Actually, screw the info, this is a severe case of cyber-bitching gone mad.

What really gets my goat is the sheer audacity of it all! Most of these uploaders, who usually ‘broadcast’ from a webcam in their bedrooms (or in Chris Crocker’s case under the sheets), drone on and on about how irritating their chosen subject is. How very dare they!

Justin Bieber, Lady GaGa, Britney Spears and scores of other frequently victimised celebs are torn apart by absolute nobodies! I don’t understand why some of these morons have millions of hits! Who are they? Why should anybody care what they have to say about anyone!? Especially someone who’s achieved far more with their life than they ever will!

A blogger called Megan O’Neill wrote a piece last week on a specific area of internet ranting that is not celebrity-oriented, but whose principles are the same. She notes that people judge entirely on what they see in the video, as they don’t know the poster as a person, meaning there’s a massive danger of being defined purely by what you say in your rant. Many of the responses to Megan’s blog post support video bloggers’ freedom of speech.

So why do they bother doing it? I believe that it’s purely an attention thing. Every idiot who uploads a bitchy vid striving for hits is hoping to be the next Perez Hilton – and God forbid there should ever be another one of him unleashed on us all!

Sure, advertising revenue stemming from YouTube’s commercial highlighting of those videos whose number of views starts to approach the million mark and its repercussions (popularity and interest leading to television contracts and appearances) is a definite incentive. But surely they must all realise that this type of success only comes to a smidgenous percentage of YouTube ranters.

Those who do start to attract a sizeable number of hits, however, often get rather big. And it’s this popular attention that makes YouTube a wholly social medium.

Luckily, not many peoples’ opinions (amongst my peers at least) seem to be in any way altered or affected by what they see of online rants.

Hopefully the trend will die out as quickly as it sprung up. Unfortunately, with all the millions out there desperate to have their nothingsy voices heard, platforms offering audio-visual uploading facilities are likely to carry on being clogged with this rubbish.


6 Mar



In the beginning there was the word, on Tuesday, there was Charlie.

If you have seen any news this week you will have noticed that one man has been in the spotlight as much as Colonel Gadaffi himself, Charlie Sheen.

At the beginning of this week he joined Twitter, after a day he had over a million followers and only a mere six or seven tweets.

Five or six days, 2 millions followers and some 50 tweets later Sheen is arguably the most successful person to ever utilse the site and its high time we try and figure out how this all happened.

Of late, some would say that he’s been having a bit of a breakdown. A couple of weeks ago he was admitted to rehab after an extended period of partying with drugs and alcohol rendered him a little worse for wear.

Since then he has had a very public feud with the producers of his hit TV show Two and a Half Men, lost his kids and on Monday he gave this interview this interview to ABC’s Good Morning America.

Shortly after this incident Sheen decided he liked having his voice heard, uncensored, so what better way to do this? Start a Twitter.

Charlie Sheen #WINNING

Everyone loves to see celebrities cut loose and get a peek of what they are like in real life without their PR wizards at hand to control their every move. The paparazzi usually lend a hand here, taking the embarassing photos or providing us the quotes celebs would rather we not hear.

Sheen is going through a very “interesting” time in his life and he has invited us all to come watch. Twitter is the perfect tool for us to get minute by minute insights into the life of Sheen. His use of TwitPics and links to his new show “Sheens Korner” on USTREAM serve to sweeten the deal. Who needs TMZ, Perez Hilton or the Daily Mail to dish the dirt when Sheen is there to do it for us?

Lady Gaga is currently top of the Twitter charts with over 8 million followers and 600 Tweets. She has had her profile for 36 months and its more than likely that a significant portion of her updates are carefully constructed by her PR team. Sheen has done it all by himself and we have all sat there watching, waiting, anticipating his every move and he has not let us down. No doubt the best is yet to come.