Archive for November, 2009

Twitter Is Just The Start Of It

November 25, 2009

Any which way you turn, as a journalist or as not, you cannot escape social media. Twitter, facebook and blogs are no longer buzz words that conjure up images of computer geeks straining over their laptops in the early hours of the morning. These terms have fast become a part of our vocabulary, and for journalists – an essential part of our work.

Claire Wardle, Honorary lecturer of Cardiff University and freelance journalist and trainer of social media, discussed how we can maximise the role social media plays on our lives to dramatic effect.

We no longer have to wait until 6 o’clock, 10 o’clock or the morning paper to get our stories out. As soon as a news story unravels we can report on it instantaneously and reach the masses at the click of a button.

The plethora of tools at our fingertips is overwhelming, but search engines, social bookmarks, aardvark and book marking are all out there to enhance our journalism and help us be more aware of the issues that surround our audiences.

“Social media is an umbrella term which captures the millions of conversations that are going on now.” This enables us to interact with our audience about relevant information that they themselves are interested in. The role of journalists is still the same – to understand, listen and empathise with the reader, and social media tools allow us to do exactly that, in a much more efficient way. In short, we can tell “better, more informed stories, develop stronger relationships with existing audiences and connect with new audiences.”

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The 140 Character Job Application Form

November 24, 2009

Have the days of filling out laborious job applications been replaced by the wonders of Twitter? A 6-page form, complete with additional attachments, substituted by 140 characters on a computer screen?

Social media isn’t just a method of communication anymore, it can also be a way of getting a job.
That’s how Joanna Geary ended up working as Web Development Officer for The Times…a title which even she isn’t clear of its meaning.

As a digital journalist, communicating with the reader is paramount. So it’s not all doom and gloom for new-age journalism, you can serve your audience better. If you know who is accessing your material then you can suggest other options for them.

So, although Murdoch’s pay-per-view news will reduce traffic to your site, the ability to interact with your reader will surpass that worry.

For Geary, it’s never been about blog statistics as these are not indicative of people engaging with your stories they’re simply people who pass through and may not even acknowledge what you’ve written.

Communication is Key

November 15, 2009

Being a Technology Correspondent isn’t about knowing the intricate details of the latest gadgets, or living your life in cyber space searching out the next invention to take social media by storm.
Being a Technology Correspondent, or indeed any correspondent, is about being able to communicate with your audience and tell them what is going on in the world. Understanding how something works and being able to explain that to your listeners is more crucial than being able to name the latest digital terminology.

Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology Correspondent for the BBC, started his lecture by dismissing the cliché reference to ‘The Golden Days’ as “bollocks”. He cited that before the internet revolutionised communication, reporters were unable to interact with their audience. There was a lack of original journalism where broadcasters simply churned out material from the morning’s newspapers. He declared that journalism was done badly – as well as lacking in creative content the absence of graphics and movement meant reports lacked visual creativity too.

Although statistics may show smaller audiences are tuning in to hear the News at Ten, digital journalism has resulted in a more fragmented audience who are actively involved in contributing to news pieces.
By reflecting on internet statistics journalists have the power to challenge the professionalism of their editors and persuade them of a story’s worthiness.

Yes, journalism is changing. But at the heart of it still lies the importance of story-telling and being able to communicate key ideas with your audience. And if anything, technology is improving our ability to do this every day.

No-one Knows Where Journalism’s Going…But They Never Have

November 8, 2009

It’s refreshing to hear a lecturer stand up in front of you and not ask why you’ve signed up to a journalism course, or utter the (terribly clichéd) phrase: ‘it’s a perilous time for journalism. Who knows where it’s going?’ Not me. I don’t think I’ve heard such an overused expression since I was encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ back at school.

But then Daniel Meadows isn’t exactly your everyday university professor. In 1973 the self-professed hippie took off around England in a double-decker bus. No, not as a passenger – hopping on at one stop and off at another – the man bought a double-decker bus. He converted it into a dark room and drove all over the country taking portraits of people he met along the way. 30 years later, with the help of local newspapers, he tracked down his subjects and took new portraits.

Since then he has taken inspirtion from California’s Centre for Digital Storytelling and set up audience workshops across Wales teaching people to be inventive with their memories and interact more with the world around them.

That’s right, he actually encourages the audience to interact with the media and make their own tv. Rather than live in fear of what the future will bring in terms of the audience becoming the producer, Meadows tackles the situation head on. He teaches digital photography skills to others and helps them to capture their memories on-screen in imaginative ways.

His alternative approach to story-telling emphasises his excitement around the ways media can develop. So maybe it’s not such a perilous time for journalism. No-one knows where it’s going…but they never have.

The Importance of Diverse Blogging

November 1, 2009

Diversity is key for bloggers according to Adam Tinworth from Reed Business Information (RBI). He said in a recent lecture that us bloggers need to use various techniques such as pictures, videos and links to maintain our audience’s interest and keep them coming back for more.

Bloggers need to be more than just a source of information; they need to be the homepage for that information, providing the audience with the most up to date details about a chosen subject. Whenever we find anything of interest to our readers, we need to tell them!

Like many voices before him, Tinworth stressed the importance of a digital world and argued that we need to post regularly, responding in real time to the issues surrounding the themes mentioned in our writing.

Most people of older generations are sceptical about bloggers – believing them to have almost too much freedom. This allows an endless diatribe of opinionated dribble to form the content of their blog. However, apparently, conversation is not opinion. Opinion is what bloggers need to separate themselves from in order to achieve accuracy and clarity that we desire.