Social Media and Journalists: Part 1


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Presentation to journalists in Singapore. March 19-23, 2012. Download PPT to get the notes and the URLs. (Part 1 of 4.) Part 1 covers concepts and definitions. Part 2 covers Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Part 3 covers Storify, Instagram, YouTube and WordPress. Part 4 covers Facebook, Google+ Hangouts, and LinkedIn.

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  • I will begin with an example of how journalists at a New York City radio station are using social media.
  • A blizzard on Dec. 26, 2010, paralyzed the New York metropolitan area. The three major airports shut down, along with trains and even some of the subway lines. Emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire trucks, could not get through. WNYC Radio (2010b). Winter Storm Photos. Retrieved from
  • The mayor of New York City had announced that all streets had been plowed, but the map from the radio station showed that streets were still buried in snow (Mobile Commons, 2011). Local radio station WNYC invited listeners to report where streets had been left uncleared of snow, trapping cars and preventing buses and emergency vehicles from reaching residents. To submit a report, a person simply sent a text message from any mobile phone. Each report was added to a Google Map, which was published on the website of the radio station (WNYC Radio, 2010a).WNYC Radio (2010a). Mapping the Storm Clean-up. Retrieved from
  • Because of the published map and the audio reports from the listeners, WNYC Radio was able to show that the local authorities had not done what they promised, and the voices of the people were heard. Plows were sent out, and the streets were cleared of snow. WNYC Radio (2010a). Mapping the Storm Clean-up. Retrieved from
  • Listeners to the radio station were asked to contribute photos of their street as well as audio messages. In this way, the radio station included the public in their coverage of the snow clean-up. They asked for meaningful contributions from the citizens, and they got them. The radio journalists used their website intelligently to add value to their radio reports.
  • Source: Mobile Commons (2011). How WNYC used mobile mapping to fact check Mayor Bloomberg. Retrieved from
  • Part 1 of 3: Concepts
  • Social media can help journalists with all of these. BUT social media do NOT replace these functions or take them over completely.
  • This list is based on Hermida, 2011, p. 18.
  • These are NOT ALL the possible uses of social media, but the list includes some that are very important for journalists to consider. NOTE that most people connect to people they already know.
  • Pause … The point is to SHARE. If you’re not using it to share, you’re not doing it right.Source:
  • The traditional journalism idea of “sharing” is one-way – from us (journalists) to them (the public). We talk. They listen.
  • Journalists need to realize that they can gain a lot from allowing the flow to become two-way. Social media provides many new pathways for journalists to receive information as well as send it. SHARING is not only SENDING OUT LINKS.
  • TWO WAY. It’s not a broadcast medium.
  • The diagram is meant to show that there is certainly some overlap. Not all journalism is “important,” and not all important information (e.g. scientific research) is encompassed in journalism. The intersection of all three in the middle shows us the possibility that sometimes social media might yield BOTH journalism AND important information.
  • I don’t believe citizens can replace journalists. But citizens can do some things that can HELP journalists do their job better.
  • SOURCE: (slide 21)
  • I will talk about these in discussing various examples. Each of these is DIFFERENT. Each is something that can be especially useful to journalists – and the public – in certain circumstances, and NOT in others. The WNYC Radio example (snow) is a good example of 1. Participation and 3. UGC. It also has aspects of 2. and 4.
  • Part 2 of 3: Tools and Communities (culture of social media users)
  • This changes year by year. New sites and tools appear … others fade away into the background. Look at the DRAK GRAY ring … conversations and interactions. KEY. Sometimes it might not be clear if something is a site, a tool, a network, or a community. SOURCE:
  • If the page – status – link – tweet – is NOT linked to a profile, then it is not an instance of social media.
  • Andy Carvin works for National Public Radio in the United States. He tweets revolutions. He’s famous for combing the Twitter universe when anything heats up in the Middle East and retweeting the most relevant messages. He also fact-checks when possible. More information: Profile examples. Top: Andy Carvin, Twitter. Bottom: Andy Carvin, Facebook.
  • Profile examples. Top: Andy Carvin, LinkedIn. Bottom: Andy Carvin, Google+.
  • “We define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.” boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.
  • What does your profile say about you?
  • Again – emphasis on listening, not only speaking. THIS IDEA of YOUR NETWORK – who is in it? What is it for?
  • THIS IDEA of YOUR NETWORK – who is in it? What is it for?
  • Data from 2011 / n = 596 / via Michael Netzley (@communicateasia), who teaches at Singapore Management University.
  • Number ONE is SOCIAL INTERACTIONS Data from 2011 / n = 596 / via Michael Netzley (@communicateasia), who teaches at Singapore Management University.
  • Social Media and Journalists: Part 1

    2. 2. NEW YORK CITY SNOW STORMDecember 26, 2010
    3. 3. WNYC RADIO: GOOGLE MAPDecember 29, 2010 (3 days after storm): White = snow not cleared
    4. 4. WNYC RADIO: GOOGLE MAPDecember 30, 2010 (4 days after storm): Purple = snow cleared
    5. 5. WNYC RADIO: SNOW CRISIS  Over the radio, listeners were asked to text PLOW to 30644, the station’s mobile shortcode  The location of each text was added to a Google Map  The map was posted on the radio station’s website  Each person who texted was asked to also leave an audio report as voicemail  The audio reports were played on the radio
    7. 7. LESSONS LEARNED 1. The audience can help journalists 2. Journalists need to think creatively so they can use this resource well 3. Social media can be very useful in crisis reporting
    9. 9. WHAT JOURNALISM DOES  Inform  Entertain  Serve the public good  Amplify the voice of the people  Act as a watchdog  Filter: Select and prioritize news
    10. 10. WHAT JOURNALISTS DO  Gather (observe, seek, interview)  Select (choose, sort, discard)  Produce (write, edit, process)  Distribute (publish, broadcast, upload)  Interpret (analyze, discuss, comment)
    11. 11. SOCIAL MEDIA: GENERAL USES  Create a profile (or identity) to show others who you are  Make links to things you support or like  Share information* with groups (friends, family, work colleagues)  Post comments, messages, “statuses”  Maintain connections with many people * Including images, videos, links
    12. 12. Us Them
    13. 13. Us Them
    14. 14. If you’re notsubscribing to(following) people,you’re not doing it right.
    15. 15. JournalismSocial Media Important Information
    16. 16. THE PUBLIC CAN CONTRIBUTE  Gather (observe, seek, interview)  Select (choose, sort, discard)  Produce (write, edit, process)  Distribute (publish, broadcast, upload)  Interpret (analyze, discuss, comment)
    17. 17. NEW ENVIRONMENTThe media universe has changed,and there’s no going back.
    18. 18. NEW ENVIRONMENTThe media universe haschanged, and there’s no goingback.What has changed?
    19. 19. NEW ENVIRONMENTThe media universe has changed,and there’s no going back.What has changed?How all of us gather, verify,distribute, and consume newsand information.
    20. 20. Source: Debra Askanase, consultant, Community Organizer 2.0
    21. 21. RELATED TERMS 1. Participatory journalism 2. Crowdsourcing 3. User-generated content (UGC) 4. Curation
    23. 23. DEFINITION: SOCIAL MEDIADigital systems*that enable people,identified byprofiles, to shareinformation. *digital systems = media
    24. 24. USER PROFILESThe profile isan anchor, or a node,in the social mediauniverse.
    25. 25. CLARIFICATIONSocial media (SM) putsthe emphasis on media(the universe) ratherthan on the networks(sites or apps).
    26. 26. THE NETWORKPeopleadd / follow / friend you(your profile)into their network. What does your profile say about you?
    27. 27. THE NETWORKPeoplewill “un-friend” youif they don’t likewhat you send out.
    28. 28. THE NETWORKYour networkis valuable to youif you follow peoplewho share meaningfulinformation.
    29. 29. YOUR NETWORKWho is in your network?Why are they there?Who is missing?
    30. 30. Data from 2011 viaMichael NetzleySurvey of 596Singaporeans.
    31. 31. Data from 2011 via Michael Netzley(1)(2)(4)(3) Survey of 596 Singaporeans.
    32. 32. SOCIALMEDIAPresentation by Mindy McAdamsUniversity of Florida,
    33. 33. Keep up on the latest news and tipsabout social media and journalists: these sources on Twitter for updateson the social media universe:@NiemanLab@mashable