Monday, January 31, 2011

Social Media WON'T kill the journalism star

It would have been hard for anyone to escape news of the two huge political revolutions from Tunisia and (currently) Egypt taking place. Social media has played a key part in the organisation of these citizen revolutions where commentators and insiders have been live tweeting, organising and spreading word through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like.

The effect has been undeniable, and it may not be an exaggeration to say that without social media platforms for the public to communicate with eachother and the outside world, these revolutions may not have taken place.

The reporting of these events has also had to adapt. Sky, BBC, CNN, Fox, Al-Jazeera have all been reporting from journalists on the ground as well as following events on social media platforms, often quoting tweets and updates from politicians and the like. It’s sometimes claimed that social media is now the place to go for news rather than news organisations, and the citizen journalists are the ones  who carry the breaking news.

I’m not completely on board with that theory and believe it’s important to remember where journalism – and the true skill of the journalist – comes to the fore.

Firstly it’s an affront to the work of the professional journalist to think those without knowledge of the art could compare just because they’re able to be first on the buzzer with tweets, follow the right people and retweet the right tweets. Whilst it’s important for a news organisation to be first to break the news, it’s also important to be accurate and to report the actual news rather than speculate and spread rumours.

Most importantly however it underestimates the skill of a quality journalist in investigating the story behind the story. There is no way that a citizen journalist could ever match the experience, investigative power and ability to report of a journalist who talks to the right people, has access to the right influencers and who has the credibility to pass opinion and accurately report a story.

Many journalists are on social media platforms and use them to break stories; this is clearly the way media is moving and that is only right as they will be left behind unless they adapt.

But there is still a need for skillful investigative journalism and reporting.

Social media can add to and enhance that. But it isn’t yet in the position to replace it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blogs rule!

Readers and followers of my blog (there are at least 5 of you!) will have noticed the lack of activity over the winter/holiday period.

The world continued to turn and big stories included Quora and a gluttony of “Top X of Y in 2010” and “Top predictions in 2011”. I had a few blog ideas around those subjects but they didn’t REALLY inspire me (Quora a little maybe, but it was being overdone). I didn’t see any value.

And that’s what this post is all about. Value. Specifically adding value.

For those who blog or who appreciate a good blog post, it’s almost universally understood to be one of the most valuable and important aspects of any social/online strategy. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of mutual recommendation of good quality blogs. What there is a lot of is mutual recommendation of people. Particularly on twitter. On Friday. I’m talking about #followfriday - #ff.

Every Friday the twitter community, in a pique of what is increasingly becoming sycophantic backslapping, recommend their followers to follow other people. Initially a great idea for people to meet and speak to new people it’s now becoming a way for people to recommend their friends to their followers. Many of whom follow the same people anyway. Others still include a long list of follower names with no explanation of why they should be followed. It adds no value.

I had a thought that I wanted to put out there that addresses this. A new Friday recommendation hashtag.


I want people to recommend great blogs. Blogs that they have really enjoyed reading, blogs that have added to their knowledge, made them think and have provided a great insight or comment on a particular subject. It’s simple, but it would add so much to everyone’s online experience. It will ensure that great blogs are given the platform they deserve. And from those blogs, you’ll naturally follow the authors. It’s just another layer on top of #ff that serves a great purpose.

I’m not sure if it will catch on or not. But I think it should. After all, other Friday tags such as #HireFriday (linking jobs and jobseekers) have caught on, and @MackCollier’s weekly #blogchat must be one of the most active twitter chats online, so it’d be interesting to see if people see value in #BlogFriday and adopt it.

I’ve had positive feedback so far from a number of people who like the idea and starting this Friday I’ll be recommending some of my favourite blogs to my followers and hope to get some back.

#BlogFriday. Let’s share some great content.