networked journalism

The revolution has been Twittered


I’ve been following the Egypt revolution via the #Jan25 hashtag and a few of my favorite Tweeters. The experience is riveting. Every twist and turn is documented — so much more exciting than waiting till the end of the day to read a newspaper report. It’s also better than simply watching one news channel. Instead, I get reports from ALL the news channels — both English and Arabic. I can’t imagine I’ll watch any breaking news story in another fashion.

One #Jan25 Tweeter deserves special praise: Emirati commentator Sultan al Qassimi. He has worked tirelessly to update the events from all the Arab and English news outlets — 16 hours in a row on Thursday. His coverage alone was more informative than any mainstream media outlet. His follower numbers have shown a dramatic rise as well as he’s gained fame for his comprehensive coverage. He now has nearly 20,000 followers up around 8,000 followers over the last few days.

Sultan al Qassemi may represent a new form of journalism. His expansive coverage, duel-language skills, and an innate understanding of the politics in Egypt make him more valuable than any single outlet. And his coverage is so expansive because he’s not tied to a single outlet. He’s free to jump around between the coverage from Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic. While Al Jazeera had the best live feeds coming out of Egypt, you’d never see CNN relying upon it for its coverage. But, Qassemi isn’t beholden to anyone.

Of course, this new form of journalism isn’t financially viable. Al Qassemi isn’t making any money (directly anyway), and he’s feeding off news outlets that do make money — perhaps even drawing viewers away from them. Still, we should pause for a moment and appreciate that there’s never been a better way to stay on top of a story. Thanks to Sultan and to the other #Jan25 newsmakers.

By | January 29th, 2011|networked journalism, Uncategorized|1 Comment

News outlets must embrace Twitter

Great editorial from the Guardian about the benefits of Twitter for news organizations. The top 15 reasons include news dissemination, powerful aggregation, altering notions of authority and — my favorite — being an agent of change. Alan Rusbridger writes:

As this ability of people to combine around issues and to articulate them grows, so it will have increasing effect on people in authority. Companies are already learning to respect, even fear, the power of collaborative media. Increasingly, social media will challenge conventional politics and, for instance, the laws relating to expression and speech.

Very true. Of course, at face value many of these reasons don’t seem to benefit the news outlets. (What newspaper wants to give up their authority?) But, these reasons and the corresponding increase in credibility that engagement delivers should persuade news organizations to get serious about Twitter.

The Guardian already has. Click here to read their social media guidelines, which effectively encourage their employees to get into conversations with readers via Twitter and Facebook. The Washington Post, on the other hand, recently issued rules to forbid such interaction.

Which move feels like it’s on the right side of history?

By | November 20th, 2010|networked journalism, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Crowd-sourcing success

Great example of networked journalism at the online site TBD in Washington, DC. The news outlet asked readers to note instances where subway escalators were malfunctioning. By harnessing the power of the audience, they produced a  map that accurately reflects the problems with the metro system. Good stuff. The old-school reporting would have featured a few anecdotes about malfunctioning escalators followed by a quote from a PR flack for the subway saying that the problems weren’t too serious.

Makes you wonder — Why are so few news outlets embracing this type of reporting?

UPDATE: Practical tips to engage the audience.

By | November 18th, 2010|networked journalism|0 Comments

Atlanta Journal-Constitution is turning a profit

According to the paper’s public editor:

A year ago, the newspaper was losing money. Business leaders moved quickly to turn that around, making a series of painful expense cuts that included trimming home delivery to outlying regions and reducing staff. Printing was consolidated at the company’s Gwinnett County plant, meaning the downtown presses were no longer used. And so the downtown office, which was expensive to maintain and no longer fully utilized, became an obvious choice for savings.

As difficult as those cuts were, the work paid off. The AJC has been profitable for the past several months. And in the face of necessary changes, the newspaper maintained its focus on what is essential to readers: a comprehensive report with deep local news, business, sports and entertainment coverage; a diverse mix of opinion and expertise; and in-depth watchdog reporting on topics that matter to all of metro Atlanta.

The AJC has indeed been doing a good job covering the area despite its reduced staff. They also put an impressive amount of resources into investigative journalism — producing about 10 enterprise pieces a week.

I would also add that the paper has worked on listening to complaints about its liberal bias — both in the news section and on the editorial pages. The paper shifted its editorial board to the center a year ago.

The AJC should also be lauded for its embrace of networked journalism. They often use shout-outs to their Twitter followers to get information on developing stories. And anecdotal evidence shows they’re quite receptive to fixing the mistakes pointed out by their networked community. Earlier this year, I criticized a lede for unfairly portraying a suspect in a crime as guilty. They fixed it within 2 hours and alerted me via Twitter.

It appears that all these elements make for profitable journalism. Other news outlets should take note of the AJC’s approach to the news business.

By | April 19th, 2010|AJC, networked journalism, new media|0 Comments

Trust and the Internets

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, has this to say about trust:

The big deal, online will be distributed trust. Just like in real life we rely on who we trust whether it’s for a dry-cleaner recommendation or a book recommendation or who to vote for how to run the country. And the idea is that we see the beginning right now already of trust mechanisms say on Amazon or Facebook or whatever and I think this decade and probably very soon we’re going to see the evolution of distributed trust mechanisms which work with each other say from Google, Amazon, Facebook and I really think they need to work with each other, I think they need to be available to all. The deal is we need systems which will be really, really hard to game, which are open to all which allow us to stand up for each other in terms of how much we trust them for whatever purpose and I think the opportunities here are large because so much depends on who we trust. The economic opportunity here might be huge. But you know maybe this is the type of thing that the big sites, the big trustworthy sites, should give away because I think this is really important not only for them and for Internet afficionados but for the whole species.

Not sure how trust in media outlets fits into all this, but there’s certainly room for a killer app in that department as well.

By | April 6th, 2010|networked journalism, Uncategorized|0 Comments