Social media in a tsunami

March 11, 2011

This morning I woke up (without an alarm…bliss!), and went over to my computer. Switched it on, and headed onto my emails and then Facebook – yes, I seem to be obsessed.  I’d not switched the radio or television on, and I definitely hadn’t seen the papers.

Checking out the homepage, my heart did a little flip when the live feed. One was from my aunty (or second cousin once removed…we’re related anyway…) who said this:

Gill Montgomery

Dan is ok , but I’m not ! Think I need a stiff drink … Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in japan….

Dan is Gill’s youngest son, who is over in Japan at the minute as part of his University course. What the heck had happened?!

As I looked down the feed it was clear it was something big, but nobody was saying exactly what. I went straight over to BBC online and found that whilst I’d been blissfully enjoying a lie in, a huge Tsunami had hit Japan.

It’s a tragedy, and my heart goes out to all those affected by the disaster.

What has struck me though, is that social media was the first thing that flagged up to me that something big had happened. And of all the social media, it was Facebook!

News channels will be covering the disaster live over the next fews hours, and following it for days as relief efforts go into full swing.

So how will they harness social media in their coverage?

No doubt regional news will be looking for local people out in Japan that are willing to talk about what has happened and give first hand accounts of the event, twitter feeds will be monitored to check up on rescue attempts and the search for missing loved ones, and citizen journalism will really be exploited via uploaded videos and photos from those in the area.

For journalists in the UK, social media is a god send in covering these events. It adds another, more human interest element to coverage – after all it’s the people and emotion that makes a good news story great.

We will also look to social media as days progress (and depending on the extent of the damage) to fundraising groups that will be set up and aid relief is sent to the area.

My greatest sympathies with all who are affected by this.

Looking back to Facebook, it seems that Dan is ok…


The costs and the competition

March 10, 2011

For the average person, using and contributing to social media is a low cost exercise. Most have access to a computer and, in the UK at least, many have the equipment with with to take photos and record video.

But what about news broadcasters? How do they pariticipate, and how do they keep up with the competition?

Talking to many people in the industry it seems generally recognised that the BBC have the best online news service. They’ve invested a large amount into developing the site, with dedicated teams running it and satellite contributors in it’s regional news.

They have been harnessing user generated contact for years, have dedicated and well maintained blogs from editors and featured writers, and encourage debate around topics whilst enforcing tried and tested house rules. It’s a phenomenal operation unmatched by any other.

It’s big rivals are behind. Far behind.  They know it, and so do the public.

It’s vital in the ever increasing online dependence the public has for consuming news, that news organisations develop their online content and social media outlets to reenforce their brand and audience interaction.

Last night ITV Yorkshire held their first live web chat with it’s audience, talking online through the website with a local councillor. The level of participation was good considering it was the first time it had been run, and it’s easy to see the benefits of increasing interaction with the audience.

ITV are pledging to invest in and redevelop their websites and content in order to try and catch up with its main competitor. This is a large scale operation that will take time, but really essential in this digital age. I wonder how they will do it…?

It raises questions: Can commercial broadcasters keep up with publicly funded organisations?  If not, why not? If they can, then why aren’t they doing it?


Where are the boundaries?

March 5, 2011

Throughout this assessment it has become clear that whilst the class was split into group topics, in fact in the media, it’s practically impossible to separate them.

Press freedom, impartiality, public service broadcasting and social media are all interwoven, and are set to become more so as technology continues to advance at such a rapid rate.

Social Media has an important part to play in the future of news and journalism, and as the research has shown, it’s vital to remember that with all it’s advantages, social media also brings with it a tidal wave of responsibility. To check the facts, to disassociate personal opinion from the broadcasters view, and to ensure output is accurate and well researched…I think that even with cuts, the legal departments jobs are safe!

The future of journalism and social media…well, who knows? It’s clear that newsrooms are embracing it to interact with their audience, allowing them to ask the questions they want to ask and also to seek out stories. Let’s use it to our advantage.

One man who does like to ponder the future of journalism, is Adam Westbrook (one of the very helpful to contributors to our presentation Twitter discussion). Check out his blog and see what he has to say:

Adam Westbrook:: online video & entrepreneurial journalism


House rules

March 3, 2011

It appears, that one of the main topics of discussion after our presentation, was the fact that literally anyone can have their say – qualified or not.

It’s a problem, I agree, particularly if what people write is neither her nor there, or completely falsified (how does this fit in with our friends over at Press  and Broadcast Freedom I wonder?).

In interview, Daisy Griffiths reflected on the importance of monitoring forums and discussions online, particularly with regards to a large broadcasting corporation. It seems like an editorial minefield if you ask me, and it raises important issues about how one can decide what is right to be published and what isn’t.

Ultimately it seems that the big ones: libel, defamation and invasion of privacy are the underlying biggies. But for reference, check out the BBC House Rules to see how they allow you to have your say.


Twitter talk reflections and explanations

March 2, 2011

As part of our presentation, we had a twitter talk with some very helpful journalists and PR professionals: Rory Cellan-Jones, Adam Westbrook, Katy Creates and Jonathan Morris.

Now, as you will see from the twitter conversation itself, their pearls of wisdom gave us a lot to think about. I also think the exercise demonstrated brilliantly the power of social media for making connections on journalism.

Prior to the morning of the presentation, our group had been trying to organise a bunch of people to converse via Twitter at a set time. Becs had success with Katy, who agreed to join us. But the people I had in mind to involve were proving much harder to pin down. So, what did we do? We twitter monitored!

By watching the live twitter feed, we are able to see which of the people we were following were online at the same time we were. Now, perhaps this was a double stroke of luck (I’m happy at this point in time to attribute it to the power of social media), but monitoring through the morning saw a variety of journalists were online – and in my personal opinion (and rather jammily (I don’t think that’s a word, but I’m going to go with it)), some of the best people to talk about social media.

After a quick @mention, Rory, Adam, Jonathan and Katy were kind enough to respond and agree to join in our conversation.

Now, I really didn’t expect this to happen. I thought I’d give it a go and get no response. ut no, social media strikes again and allowed us to get in contact with people I’m unlikely to ever meet face to face.

Do you think I would have got the same response if I’d emailed them? Or given them a call (if somehow I was able to find their numbers…)? I don’t think I would have.

Social Media is breaking down all sorts of boundaries and opening up the world of communication to all who are willing to use it. Imagine the contacts database you could try to build? It would take some work and willingness, but what a tool.


The real deal: social media at work

January 29, 2011

BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones describes how social media has changed the way in which he works…

Follow him on Twitter: @ruskin147


Business networking – an editors perspective

January 29, 2011

Tim Weber, Business editor for BBC News website discusses how social media and new technology has changed the way we work, live and make money…

Davos 2011: We’re all hyper-connected, now what?