Perhaps taking a page from our neighbours to the south, the London Free Press and QMI Agency have decided to cover the Michael Rafferty trial with a branded Twitter account (@RaffertyLFP) instead of using reporters’ personal Twitter accounts to live tweet the proceedings.
Many Florida-area newspapers and TV stations did the same thing when they covered the Casey Anthony trial last summer.
There are pros and cons to going this route for a court case.
- You don’t clutter reporters’ personal Twitter accounts with tweets their current followers don’t have an interest in reading;
- Multiple people can access the account, meaning followers don’t have to follow three different people;
- People can go back and read the case from beginning to end in one place.
- You have to build the account’s following from scratch (at least when you have reporters tweeting, you can piggyback off their following);
- If not publicized correctly, it might never get much of a following.
From what I can tell, other media outlets are just using their reporters’ personal Twitter feeds to broadcast their courtroom play-by-play.
Just after the start of the trial Monday morning, the account had 212 followers. The trial could last three months.
It will be interesting to see how high the following on the account gets as the days and weeks of the trial go on.
Young journos take note. This post is full of good advice. Read it, learn it, live it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about young journalists lately. Maybe it’s simply because I’ve been invited to speak to some journalism classes in the past few months and have been impressed by how many bright, intelligent and ambitious young people still want to be part of an industry that few seem…
At the start of last year, I wrote a piece for the Toronto Star's intern blog with some resolutions for journalists.
The resolutions were:
- Journalists should be wary of what they tweet;
- One should always spell check before clicking “publish;”
- One should not just social media source, but also talk to people in the “real” world;
- One should have a life outside of work;
- Journalists should join the conversation, not just observe.
I thought it would be fun to update the list with resolutions for 2012. I took to social media asking for suggestions, so here they are my five resolutions for journalists in 2012.
1. I will double check my facts before clicking publish
Hey, errors happen it’s a fact of life. Sometimes they’re funny, often times they’re not. As the media world evolves into a continuous deadline, it’s important now more than ever to make sure the information we are posting — in news stories, on Twitter or in live blogs — is as accurate as it can be. Take the time to fact check and due diligence. You owe it to yourself — and your readers.
2. I will embrace new technology
It would be great to say new technology is done, but that’s likely very far from the truth. New social media networks, like Path, continue to crop up while old social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, continue to make changes to stay current and maintain their users.
It’s important not to get too comfortable with the tools we use or to get too stuck in our ways. If the last 10 years has taught us anything it’s that new technologies and tools are always cropping up. If we get too stuck in our ways, then we’ll run the risk of going the way of newspapers or the music industry and dying a slow death.
3. I will not sit at my desk for my entire shift
This resolution comes from Kate Schwass-Bueckert, a wire editor with QMI Agency in Toronto. She writes:
This past year, I finally recognized my eyesight was not what it used to be. I had to get glasses. And I sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day — getting up and stretching while I’m heating up my lunch or just taking a quick walk to get a coffee is going to be new goals — it will hopefully keep me healthier and keep my butt from becoming too large and flat!
4. Putting more honesty into your work
Also the result of crowdsourcing, this resolution comes from Alex Fox, who is not a journalist, but works in the communications industry. She writes:
As I’m moving forward as a communications person in the international development industry, I’m much more conscious of the factors that influence the messages we see depicting poverty and injustice.
The most common image you’ll see of Africa and development is one of poverty and despair (think World Vision and Children’s Christian Fund), and in contrast to this, a lot of organizations are shifting to more positive imagery (Like EWB and Oxfam).
After spending a summer in Ghana, I’ve really learned that neither of these one-snapshot representations are truthful, as the reality is much more complex, lively and ever-changing.
I’m currently working on a campaign called ‘The Complexity Project” that promotes Africa and development in a way that embraces the complexity of the situation and problems in all its material — rather than focusing on one representation or scenario.
When working on all the branding, written content and material, I keep in check by asking myself “Is this truthful? Is this message guided by what the public wants to see, or will get them more engaged? Does this representation of (for example) my friend Emmanuel from Northern Ghana show him and his reality objectively and truthfully?”
I think this is transferrable to all communications and journalistic endeavours: Is the message or story that is being communicated show all sides and complexities of the situation? Is it geared toward a specific audience? Is it tilted a certain way for an influential audience (for example advertisers in a newspaper)? I truly appreciate news stories that show all perspectives and realities of situations and stories, and I am trying to do so in my work representing Africa, development and injustice in the world moving forward, in 2012 and longer.
5. Explore the open source world
Another resolution from Schwass-Bueckert:
I know there’s a whole world of information out there, willingly being shared, and I am not as knowledgeable as I should be about it. I want to learn more about it, and how I can tap into it. I’m not even sure if calling it “open source websites” is the right name for it, but I definitely want to: a) figure out what to call it; and b) figure out how to use it in 2012.
What are your journalism resolutions for 2012? Please share them in the comments.
A piece in the Toronto Standard
today this week demands more accountability for online news. Amelia Schonbek uses CBC’s Rob Ford called 911 and used the F-bomb story (from almost two months ago) as a way to illustrate her point that online news is not accountable enough to its readers.
(F)ew have discussed a potentially more serious issue: the manner in which CBC.ca published and revised its reporting as the story developed. … The CBC’s original story was published at 5:18 a.m. on October 27. Over the course of the day, it went through several updates. By the time it was last updated, after 9 p.m. the same night, it had become a completely different piece—new information had been added, old information had disappeared, and it even had a different headline.
Schonbek is quick to point out many newspapers often do this, but she writes this is wrong because:
There was no way for anyone to revisit and assess the original content. It was made invisible.
I don’t know that I buy that. I can’t turn back the clock to compare the two stories, but I do believe the CBC stood by its story. There was no correction, no retraction. If anything, the CBC probably moved the story forward by adding Ford’s apology and denial, as well as the comments made by his brother, Doug Ford. To me, this is all good reporting and what the story has become.
It’s important to remember that with any story, the story that is posted at 5:18 a.m. is bound to change throughout the day into something different by 9 p.m.
Schonbek does propose changes to how online news is posted to make it more “transparent” to its readers:
Newspapers could, for instance, implement a tab system: at every URL, a reader would be able to click through different versions of the story in different tabs, each of which would be time-stamped. The most recent version would appear on top, but if readers wanted to reference past reporting, they could simply flick through the tabs and compare versions.
While an interesting idea, I don’t think this is at all practical. Online news consumers, for the most part, would never read all that content, they just don’t care that much.
The biggest question I have after reading this piece, and other pieces like it, is: Why do we not criticize 24 hour news stations, such as CNN, in the same way we criticize online news?
In her piece, Schonbek also references how (some) of the media killed Gabrielle Giffords back in January. Fair enough, but it wasn’t just online news that got that wrong, CNN also reported the congresswoman had been killed. CNN even said it had confirmed it “with CNN sources.” Now, whether CNN’s sources were tweets from NPR and Reuters remains to be seen, but CNN still killed the congresswoman. And then, she was brought back to life and no one demonized the news network for their misreporting.
(I’m not saying online news reports should not correct errors, or point out to readers when they change something that was wrong in their copy, but I do not believe that to be the case here. As far as I know, CBC continues to stand by their original story.)
News networks are often filled with erroneous reports throughout the day as a story develops because, well, a story is developing. If the Internet did not exist, then that CBC story would have been read on air first thing in the morning, then changed, amended and moved forward as the day went on. One would assume the story you would hear on the radio on your way into work would be nothing near what you’d hear on the way home.
Where is the demand for accountability with 24-hour news networks? Why are we demanding online news be held to a higher standard than the rest?
Interesting food for thought.
The Washington Post Social Reader app unnerves me. The act of “Reading” is now itself an action. You don’t click any “read this” button. It may be benign to some but there are potential pitfalls on the privacy front.
What if your friends saw a steady stream of articles that you were reading?
1. Finding comedy in cancer
2. Study: Sexual potency after prostate cancer can depend on age, weight, treatment type
3. Quiz gives facts about skin cancer
4. A fight that’s only begun
and so on…
What do you think they might want to ask you about?
That is just a hastily put together example, but I think it illustrates my point.
We are what we read, and sometimes we need to explore topics and subjects that need to stay in the private realm. There are plenty of good and bad reasons why you would extensively read up on articles regarding to health, diseases, diabetes, marriage, death, suicide, taxes, depression… the list goes on.
Would you want those articles bunched together in your public feed?
The Washington Post has an Editor’s Note. Its says many things including:
“All you have to do is read, just as you normally do. No “recommending,” “liking” or “sharing” — just read and we’ll do the rest of the work. The app gets better the more friends you have using it.”
Thats a very nice spin on it.
Earlier this year when I was still at the Times we talked to Facebook about a news app. Facebook had a whole set of new features in the pipeline (presumably just launched) and this passive reading action was one of them and they were looking for us to use it. It came up in conference calls and on-site meetings. I believe Facebook is very eager to catch-up or even displace Twitter as a go-to place for news, and this is how they think they can do that.
To their credit the newsroom shelved the idea. The consensus was that this was intrusive and potentially an invasion of privacy. I think after that was repeatedly communicated that Facebook lost interest in doing anything at all.
I think its one thing to broadcast your taste in music, but what you are reading raises the stakes a bit. For now, all I have is this isolated case but everything has a beginning.
That is the last tweet sent out from “911 ten years ago,” a Twitter account set up by the Guardian, who was using the account to tweet out events of Sept. 11, 2001 as they happened that day. (For example, if you scroll through the account’s timeline, you’ll see such tweets as: “Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99.) The account came under fire on the Twittersphere as being in bad taste.
I’m curious to know what you think. Was 911 ten years later in bad taste? Why? What makes it any different than the television stations that did the same thing as key events happened this morning? (An example, CNN noted on the bottom of their screen when United 175 reached it’s highest altitude.) How is it different from static timelines?
I’m curious to see when/if the Guardian ever speaks about this Twitter account and why it was really abandoned, but would love to hear your thoughts about it, too.