Adam Tinworth has highlighted a comment on Fleet Street Blues that sees social media as “an administrative task” rather than a journalistic one and says that editors want to hire “web monkeys” because they are cheaper than real journalists.
This commenter wouldn’t be the first person to mistake social media journalism for nothing more than a promotional function best left to “cheap web monkey”. I’m sure if the commenter works for a large enough organisation to have its own press office that they would love to be called cheap web monkeys for . However, smart journalists long ago realised how valuable interacting, not merely promoting one’s work or broadcasting on Twitter, was to their journalism.
- Two years ago, Charles Arthur at The Guardian (where I worked until April of 2010) used Twitter to help quickly put together a list of Oracle and Sun‘s acquisitions.
- Paul Lewis of The Guardian has used it in several of his investigations.
- In the US, Andy Carvin of NPR has used Twitter to help report the protests across the Middle East.
Megan Garber of Harvard’s Nieman Lab wrote:
Carvin’s work cultivating sources and sharing their updates has turned curation into an art form, and it’s provided a hint of what news can look like in an increasingly networked media environment.
I’m back in Doha working again with Al Jazeera. I spent five weeks in November and December conducting social media training with more than 100 Al Jazeera English staff. Social media has been key in how they covered this story, and it has been a part of the story, especially in Tunisia and Egypt. As Egypt cracked down on their television staff, Al Jazeera sent its web journalists to Egypt to help tell this historic story.
We’re not “web monkeys”. You can just call us journalists from now on.