Social Media & the Loosening Up of Journalism


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Presentation to Journalism & Social Media conference (20th April 2011)

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Social Media & the Loosening Up of Journalism

  1. 1. Social Media & the Loosening Up of Journalism Martin Thomas @crowdsurfing
  2. 2. The Loosening Up of Journalism <ul><li>Chaos, complexity & need for speed </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of new patterns of collective behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>New generational expectations </li></ul><ul><li>New technology </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1.Chaos, Complexity & Need for Speed <ul><li>Acceleration of news agenda </li></ul>1952 Lynmouth flood disaster 1988 Piper Alpha explosion May 2008 Sichuan Earthquake Jan 2009 Hudson River plane crash 2 days 1 hour 30 minutes Real Time Real Time+ Spring 2011 Live blogging during Arab Spring
  4. 4. Most institutions struggle with Real Time <ul><li>Not configured to work in real time, in terms of resources, structure or culture </li></ul>One hour Ten Minutes * Critical response time for responding to negative comments
  5. 5. Real Time Journalism <ul><li>Live blogging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Energising & engaging (live blogs = 3.6m unique users on, 9% of site traffic (March 11) v </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Messy, unstructured & an insult to real journalism </li></ul></ul>“ I’m fact checking and editing as I do it live. If I wrote something really crazy I’m sure someone would notice it … there isn’t really a way for someone else to get in there & change it …. For the most part it is what it is; here it is live and it is the best we can do.” Robert Mackey, live news blogger, New York Times
  6. 6. 2. Emergence of new patterns of collective behaviour <ul><li>Capable of delivering political, social or commercial change … without structure or formal leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Underlines deficiencies of tight, bureaucratic structures that have to deal with them </li></ul>
  7. 7. Democratisation of Criticism <ul><li>Twitter-powered aggregator of amateur reviews </li></ul><ul><li>End of the professional critic? </li></ul>
  8. 8. From Readers to Collaborators Collaborative Journalism “ mutualisation” = “getting readers to care about, inform and enhance our coverage” Meg Pickard
  9. 9. 3. New Generations <ul><li>Emerging at top and bottom of corporate hierarchy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gen X in the Boardroom with a post-Boomer mindset </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gen Y entering the workplace with new expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Demanding new ways of working </li></ul>
  10. 10. Heightened Expectations <ul><li>Speed & responsiveness </li></ul>“ The trouble with McDonald’s is it’s too bloody slow” Instant access, instant response, instant gratification “living life through shortcuts” MTV
  11. 11. 4. New Technology <ul><li>Social media driving new behaviours & expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Demanding new approaches </li></ul>
  12. 12. New Approaches <ul><li>Need to embrace new media opportunities without simply recycling old ideas & techniques </li></ul>Multi-screen Mobile avoid “trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools & yesterday’s concepts” Marshall McLuhan
  13. 13. Thriving by Loosening Up <ul><li>Operational & cultural traits of successful organisations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trusting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Informal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Tight Thinkers Need Not Apply <ul><li>Organisations & people that struggle with this new world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hierarchical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bureaucratic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Process oriented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distrustful </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Trusting <ul><li>Bedrock of strong internal culture </li></ul><ul><li>Allows shared responsibility & real time decision making </li></ul><ul><li>The best company rulebook ever written? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Nordstrom Revisited “ Prescriptive rules have the effect of infantilising staff & make it harder for them to adapt to different situations. This goes as much for digital communications as for selling socks … Like the Nordstrom handbook we’re trusting staff to follow the spirit, not just the letter, of our guidelines” Meg Pickard, writing about The Guardian’s new social media guidelines, November 2010
  17. 17. Agile <ul><li>Ability to improvise & operate in close to real time </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations of excessive faith in longer-term planning </li></ul><ul><li>Speed more important than absolute accuracy </li></ul>
  18. 18. Informal <ul><li>NPD: Living life in Beta </li></ul><ul><li>Design: Messy vitality </li></ul><ul><li>Creativity: Authenticity more important than production values </li></ul>
  19. 19. @crowdsurfing