Tag Archives: social media

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 www.mediahelpingmedia.com 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 ; )

Can we trust Twitter?

20 Mar

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

Can we trust Twitter? It is a question that I have asked myself since I set up my account in September of last year. When I first started using Twitter, I was like a kid at Christmas. I could follow my favourite celebrities, get the latest updates and pick up the day’s headlines in the middle of a lecture. It was, and is, very quick, surprisingly easy to use and in my opinion, just as addictive as Facebook! On my TV journalism course, using Twitter is not only a tool I use to keep up to date with my peers; it has arguably become a necessity. If you aren’t on this futuristic social network, you are prehistoric! Many broadcast journalists feel that Twitter has allowed them to get closer to sources, case studies, and people they perhaps wouldn’t usually be able to contact so easily. However, over the past six months, one issue has been niggling away at me…

Can we trust Twitter?

Worry 1. We have all been warned that you shouldn’t have too much private information on Facebook, as bosses will check out employees’ profiles routinely. Risky photographs from a drunken night out or albums from holidays where you are wearing less clothes than is appropriate…. all of the above, I have been advised, should be hidden or deleted before a job interview. (That is, of course, unless you are going for an interview at Spearmint Rhino!) So why aren’t the general public as skeptical about Twitter as they are about Facebook? Surely we need to be careful what we broadcast to the world on Twitter? How can we know who reads our ‘tweets’ and who doesn’t? And if there is unhealthy goings on, is there an obvious person or organisation to report this to, if so, I cant find him or her!

Worry 2. Another important point to address is ‘are people who they say they are?’ The North African ‘pro-democracy’ leaders claim that social networks can take a lot of credit for the uprisings and demonstrations seen in Egypt and Tunisia but, surely, given the anonymity of the internet, the activists behind the upheaval just MIGHT NOT be who they say they are! Another example of this could be Adam Boulton ‘& co’….Who is ‘& co’? Who is actually tweeting us these messages we read, form opinions on and listen to? If it isn’t Adam, we certainly should be told it’s not him and credit someone else for ‘his’ words of wisdom.

Worry 3. A recent article in The Times hypothesised that the US military is developing 500 fake social networking profiles to spread propaganda in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The $2.76 million project will be able to set up 500 identities, operated by a total of 50 users, which could be used to infiltrate blogs and sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The US military wants to tweet reassuring messages both domestically and in troubled Middle Eastern states in the hope of spreading calm amongst its national citizens and those of Iraq and Afghanistan. How, then, are we as journalists supposed to believe the information that we are being fed? And, how are the general public supposed to believe what they are being told, if, factually, such information is not sound and is entwined with conspiracy theories.

We all know that when we log on to someone’s Facebook page and read their ‘updated status’ that there is no guarantee that it is that person writing it, but there is something about Twitter which leads us to believe that there is a level of sophistication and professionalism. We all recognise that social media in online journalism is here to stay and Twitter has played a major part in the recognition of online resources, BUT it still begs the question ‘Can we trust Twitter news?’

‘Can we trust the news’ was actually a lecture given at Oxford University by Professor Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication at the University of Leeds. His lecture discusses lecture whether or not we can trust the news, and indeed can we trust those who are ‘better informed’ than us at all? He also discusses why it is so important for a democratic society to have trust between the Media and Citizens. Trust in the news is crucial in a democratic society and though I realise Twitter is a platform not a paper, if we can’t trust Twitter… CAN ‘social media in online journalism’ really be substantial enough to stand the test of time…?

Washington Post on Tumblr

13 Mar

by Ian Kearney

@iankearney

 

This week the Washington Post launched @innovations, a Tumblr blog which recognises how social media is changing the way people interact with the news .

The goal ? Transparency. The blog which perfectly mirrors the newspaper’s own website aims to provide a new means for journalists to connect with readers as well as showcasing the papers new digital features.

@innovations by The Washington Post

In their first post here’s what @innovations had to say about the social media side of things;

“The news is social. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have fundamentally changed the way we discover relevant information, and led us to discover the power of the crowd.Amanda Zamora, social media and engagement editor, will be Tumbling about social platforms and tools that help drive realtime stories, build relevant conversation and engage readers. Follow her @amzam or e-mail her at amanda.zamora [at] wpost [dot] com.”

While its still early days to see how exactly the paper intends to use the blog, one of the posts entitled Mideast turmoil: behind the Post’s interactive map, gives a chance to engage with the processes that go on behind the scenes in creating the news and provides a richer, interactive experience for readers.

Its always positive to see the media embracing change and while although some might argue that the Washington Post has set up little more than a blog (and that lots of other newspapers have too) this could set the standard for the future of online journalism and social media/reader interaction.

Are we giving Social Media too much credit for the Middle Eastern uprising?

28 Feb

Ian Kearney

@IanKearney

You may have read my colleague Georgina’s thought provoking piece on social networking and the fight for democracy in the Middle East. Yes undoubtedly social networks have and are still playing a part in rousing a lust for democracy, bringing repressed revolutionaries together and letting the world know what’s happening, but are we giving them more credit than they deserve?

Perhaps I’m being cynical or maybe I’m just plain wrong but it is important to question these things. Just because the mass media has given us the perception that Social Media played a huge role in the Middle Eastern uprising it doesn’t mean we should consider it fact without further thought.

Consider this, soon after the Egyptian uprising began the internet was shut down. This didn’t stop the growth of the protests, in fact we sat there day by day watching the masses grow.

How many people even have social networking accounts in these countries? The relevant Twitter statistics are not available but according to Facebook Statistic website SocialBakers;

  • Egypt has: 5 651 080 users and has had a 10% rise in the number of new accounts in the last month.
  • Tunisia has: 2 201 780 users and has had an 8% rise in the number of new accounts in the last month.
  • Libya has: 305 420 users and has had a 16% rise in the number of new accounts in the last month.

As we can see all three countries have had a notable rise in the number of people signing up to Facebook but if we look at the numbers as a percentage of their overall population the picture is a little different.

Only 4% of Libyans have Facebook accounts, 7% of Egyptians and 21% of Tunisians.

Looking at these figures, do the social networks have enough reach in these countries to move an entire nation to revolt? Perhaps in Tunisia but as for Egypt and Libya I’m not so convinced.

Facebook Revolution

Revolutions have been happening throughout the ages and while social networks are a relatively new phenomenon, revolutions are not.

To quote Peter Preston on his recent article in The Guardian, Twitter is no substitute for proper war reporting – just look at Libya;

“Lenin, Fidel Castro and Ayatollah Khomeini all managed to stage revolutions in the age before Twitter. The Soviet Union collapsed while Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was still in short pants. So, just possibly, some of the credit for freedom’s wave as it washes around the Middle East belongs more to ordinary human beings standing together than to a tide of tweets.”

Would these revolutions have happened without social networks? Yes, of course they would. Would the world have gotten a similar insight, perhaps not.

social networks: demographics and democracy

27 Feb

by Georgina Leggate

 @GeorginaLeggate

Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya…social media has been the driving force behind most of, if not all of, the 2011 protests that have taken place in the Middle East. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook not only played a huge role in the pro-democracy surge but they have provided a platform of communication, which is accessible to all areas of society. These networks have acted as a starting point for all of the protests and have given eclectic groups of repressed citizens, a taste of freedom.

The rich, the poor, the educated, the non-educated, thousands of individuals have been part of what we now call ‘the revolution’. Social media enabled both the protesters and their followers the world over, to support mass movements against autocratic governments.

Social networking also has the amazing ability to crush and flatten hierarchy. Let’s take the Egyptians for example. It is easy to think that the poor or the unemployed triggered the demonstrations, when in-fact there was a growing culture of frustration amongst all socio-economic classes across Egypt. Due to Mubarak’s repressive regime, class distinctions have become more and more blurred. Low pay, low moral combined with high levels of intellect and motivation created a spark that was going to fire up in to something much more.

The reality was that the individuals behind the progressive movement were young, educated and often, privileged men who had access to the Internet and had the ability to use it. The ever-increasing world of social networks that protesters used, gave them a voice.

The use of these social networks enabled technologically savvy protestors to make extraordinary use of the Internet and mobilise the masses. Despite an authoritarian government, social media gave the Egyptians back the power to the people as they usurped the incumbent Egyptian leadership.

Social media was used as a platform to reach citizens in their own country, neighbouring states and crucial, global, expat communities as well.

Unbeknown to the Egyptians, they were to start something quite spectacular as they gained national and international support. This ‘something’ was the ‘revolution’ which arguably stemmed from a large dollop of dictatorship, a sprinkle of civil unrest, a pinch of the people served with a large spoonful of social networks .

me and social media… a love/hate relationship

19 Dec

by Georgina Leggate

 @GeorginaLeggate

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there are many advantages to the ever-increasing world of ‘social media’.  Nowadays, no one wants to wait until Christmas before they can see their family; they want a Skype account that will allow them to communicate with people in places far and wide. I speak from experience: my brother (who is working in Abu Dhabi) and his girlfriend (who lives in London) have had a relationship on Skype for the past 6 months! I appreciate that social media plays a crucial part in online journalism, but I do find all my different social media ‘accounts’ incredibly distracting, disorienting and unavoidably addictive. Having said this, social media in online journalism is now not an option, it is something of a phenomenon and will inevitably play a huge part in my life and future as a journalist.

The 10 o’clock news is no longer good enough for the average Joe Blogger

Just like no one wants to wait for people, no one wants to, or is prepared to, wait for their update of the daily news. Yes, we have 24-hour news that brings us live broadcasts throughout the day, but it is no longer enough! Our generation (and in particular, our generation of ‘multi-platform journalists’) wants contact with the people. We want opinions. We want first-hand experiences. We want witnesses on the ground, at the crime scene, we want people that are snowed in, snowed out. We want instant calls, instant messaging and instant updates all with our instant cup-a-soup. And, what’s more, we don’t just want it, we now demand it and social media provides us with it.

I have been on my laptop for no longer than eight minutes and I have taken in more news, more celebrity gossip, more travel updates and more information than I would have done if I had sat for half an hour reading the newspaper. I have, admittedly, become slightly addicted to this ‘social media hub’ in which I have immersed myself.

Even as I write this blog, I am reading breaking news stories that are being updated faster than I can type. The words that news readers are speaking rapidly lose their value as someone else, somewhere else is revealing new information via Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Bebo, Delicious, the list goes on.

Smart phones

Handheld devices, which are inevitably linked to Twitter et al, will enable news and current affairs to be read faster than my blog will. Handheld devices such as the ‘smart phone’ can help us access news, quicker than the human body can: the movement of information is no longer paralysed by human limitation.

It’s got to be a good thing but why do I always feel that I am spending considerable amounts of time working on and adapting to my new online life?! Or is my enthusiasm misplaced? Is it merely because I am a beginner blogger, a tweetanger and a Facebook fresher? Only time will tell.

I have recently enrolled on a Television Journalism course at City University throughout which I am expected to spend more time on the Internet, watching television, updating my blog and ‘tweeting’ than I am sitting with my head in a book. Gone are the days where it was good enough to be able to ‘use the internet’. I now have to be able to know a multitude of sites like the back of my hand and in turn be able to compare and contrast them.

There is no longer a job for the journalist who says ‘I can’t do that. How do you tweet? What’s Delicious? I’m rubbish on computers’. Fact is, the keyboard is the new pen, Word is the new paper and social media is the new news broadcaster.