A social network for wired journalists

Ryan Sholin, Howard Owens and Zac Echola in the US have started a Ning network for wired journalists and those looking to network and gain experience. The mission is:

WiredJournalists.com was created with self-motivated, eager-to-learn reporters, editors, executives, students and faculty in mind. Our goal is to help journalists who have few resources on hand other than their own desire to make a difference and help journalism grow into its new 21st Century role.

While it started in the US, there are already several international journalists who have joined. They are already talking about how to get started blogging, vlogging and shooting your own pictures. There is also a group on what to do when the layoffs come. There are a lot of Strange Attractor friends and readers who have joined the network already. I’m glad to have a virtual place to hang-out when we’re not blogging. See you there.

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links for 2008-01-24

links for 2008-01-23

Why make the effort to create social media?

Mass media focuses on promotion and creating a media experience that will attract the greatest audience. Social media focuses on building a community with an audience that has the greatest connection with not only the media, but also with the creators of that media and each other.

For many in mass media, efforts beyond mere marketing seem to be a waste of time. The connection of social media seems a waste of time and effort. Why worry about connecting with the audience when the goal is create the biggest audience for advertisers?

With so many media and entertainment choices, audiences have become less loyal. Channel surfing has become the norm, and mass audiences more difficult to deliver, just ask the music industry. In part, I think that people realise that they had become just ‘eyeballs for advertisers’ in the age of mass media. But somehow as mass media became disconnected from their audiences, they forgot some of the lessons of the past that well could point to the future and social media.

As Steve Yelvington says in remembering Mike Royko, the great Chicago columnist, and one of the only reasons that I read the Chicago Tribune:

Is Royko relevant in the 21st century? I think there’s much the aspiring blog-centric journalist can learn from the writings of Chicago’s voice of the people, the man who almost singlehandedly carried the old Chicago Daily News for years, the man who sold more newspapers than anyone who sat in any publisher’s office in the city of broad shoulders.

Today’s J-student should understand that the task is not to get a job and draw a paycheck, but rather to build a following. Learn from Royko.

Build a following and a community by breaking the fourth wall of the Fourth Estate. We need to reconnect to our audiences and our communities. In a must read post, Robert Patterson sums up how social tools like Twitter can not only help build this sense of community but also break some of the limitations of linear media like radio.

From this small beginning Laura talked to others and the “Diner” started to emerge. … The listener started to become part of the show – not in air – but with the crew. As they did stuff on air, they got not just feedback but stimulation and vice versa.
“Radio is a linear medium” Laura reminded me. “You have to listen to the end to get what we do. Twitter with its short form – enables us to introduce short cuts”. From my part it introduces the many to many while the one to many is still going. This I think is the future if Radio and TV. To wrap the Program with a society.

I think it is also the future of newspapers, which is really just a forgotten lesson of newspapers’ past. Build a following, a community, and you’ll build your business.

links for 2008-01-18

How not to break news online

Suw and I needed a good chuckle, and we got one with the Times’ coverage of the crash landing of BA Flight 38 at Heathrow. (I would expect this wording to change after a sub has had a more rigorous look at this. Or maybe not, the story hasn’t been updated for an hour.)

All available fire engine cover was deployed to assist the stricken flight BA38 from Beijing after it fell short of the runway, after reportedly approaching the ground at an angle. Three passengers are reported to have sustained minor injuries.

While one certainly wouldn’t want his or her flight to approach the ground at say a 90-degree angle, but if a plane doesn’t approach the ground at an angle, it might prove difficult to land at all. And according to the Times’, Gordon Brown only barely escaped injury or even certain death.

It is believed the stricken flight eventually came to a halt, just 1000m from the Prime Minister’s flight. There is believed to be no terrorist link.

Now, as an American not well versed in the metric system, even I know that 1000m is a kilometre, which as “Mike Bibby, St ALbans, England -not EU” says in a comment on the piece, “1000 metres? Thats not even a near miss!”

This shows us once again why news is too important to be left to the cult of amateurs.

But seriously, newspapers should break and update news online, as I’ve said before. However, after the initial crush of the story, you have to hone the piece. Don’t let sloppy writing stand.

UPDATE: Suw pointed out that there was interesting response to the broadcast coverage on Twitter and then later in blogs. Our friend Ewan Spence provided excellent rolling updates on Twitter, and had this comment about BBC News 24’s coverage:

Giving up on BBC News 24 coverage. Too emotional and trying to get passengers on mobiles to say words like scared, frightened. Radio 5 wins.

Our friend Vince had some strong words for ITV’s coverage:

Earlier in the same program they had an interview with one of the passengers who categorically stated that it felt like a very rough, but otherwise normal landing and it was only when they’d been evacuated from the plane and saw bits of aircraft and landing gear strewn across the grassy strip before the tarmac that they realised they’d had a lucky escape.

Yet when it comes to wrapping up, newscaster Mark Austin completely ignores the witness account – the facts – in favour of the sensationalist, unsupported hyperbole above.

Suw made the suggestion that more news organisations should monitor Twitter for instant reaction, not just to the news event itself but also to their coverage.

links for 2008-01-17

Cover the issues not the candidates

This is more than my rant last week about the media’s coverage of politics. It is actually a good suggestion from Christopher Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, on how to make campaign coverage better. He’s refreshingly candid about how journalists cover campaigns, highlighting how reporters can almost feel like embeds in Iraq and lose perspective on the candidate that they cover. Also, I thought he was particularly honest about how it’s often easier to canvas fellow reporters’ opinions than it is to talk to voters in a place you don’t know.

His suggestion is that instead of covering candidates, cover issues. Cover the economy, education or foreign policy and compare the candidates and their changing positions. I’ve heard partisans say that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton don’t have a position on ‘x’ issue and are just spouting rhetoric, when I know full well they do, it’s just not getting coverage in the breathless sprint that is this year’s compressed primary and caucus schedule. (For those not familiar with the American system, several states have moved their primaries and caucuses forward in order to have some influence in the nominating process. Some felt that they were left out by having primaries late in February or early in March when the nominations had all but been decided.)

It’s near 3:48 in this clip, but the whole piece is well worth listening to. On the Media has some of the best coverage of the US media there is.

I think there is still value in covering the campaigns because issues aren’t the only criteria that voters use in choosing a candidate, especially when it comes to picking the US president. But maybe this is one way to add some perspective to the horse race.

Seesmix highlights my Seesmic US elections experiment

Seesmix, which gives a snapshot of 24-hours on the video conversation site Seesmic, highlighted my experiment of talking about the US elections.

As you can see, the feedback has been really positive from the Seesmic community, and I’m going to continue doing it. I’ve heard from voters in Iowa, Maine, Masschusetts, New York and Virginia. The time difference has been a bit of an issue with me going to bed just as the Seesmic users in the US warm up for the night, but the conversation still has been very interesting. There is definitely something very interesting going on here, and I’ll be curious to see what happens as Seesmic develops and grows. But one thing that I am sure, this form of video conversation creates a slightly different feeling than video sharing services like YouTube, Daily Motion or Metacafe. Well, I’ll let Deek Deekster describe it.

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