A new study has revealed the extent to which journalists from around the world are using social media both as a source of news, and to verify stories already being worked on. In their Digital Journalism Study, Oriella surveyed 600 journalists and discovered that more than half (55 percent) used social channels such as Twitter and Facebook to find stories from known sources, and 43 percent verified existing stories using these tools. 26 percent of respondents said that they used social media to find stories from sources they did not know, and almost one in five (19 percent) verified work in progress from sources unknown to them. The figures are even higher in the UK, with 75 percent of journalists using social media to research news from known sources. 52 percent of journalists said their employer’s titles had Facebook pages, while 46 percent had professional Twitter profiles. Oriella’s findings have been documented in an infographic, which takes a closer look at digital journalism today.
How to turn a crisis into an opportunity for the PR industry
It was Winston Churchill who said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” For Wikimedia UK, the press coverage surrounding the issue of unethical editing of Wikipedia pages by Bell Pottinger was the moment for an optimist to step forward. For the public relations industry, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) made a statement that it intended to develop CIPR Social Media Guidelines that could help it work with PR industry professionals to clarify the position specifically in relation to Wikipedia.
As a Wikimedia UK Board Trustee I met with the CIPR in early February to confirm our willingness to support this CIPR initiative. I then met with the Public Relations Consultancy Association in March, to ask for its support and collaboration in this too.
At these meetings common threads were emerging. Most PR professionals are keen to work with open, online communities such as Wikipedia, and many already do so. However, there would be benefit in increasingly the level of understanding about the two community’s respective values, processes and needs.
It was felt that on the PR industry-side there are many Wikipedia policies on best practice for editing and on the issue of paid for editing, which many believe are too dispersed, and so not easy to find. It was felt that the belief system or culture which motivates 100,000 Wikipedian volunteers to donate their free time to creating the World’s No1 encyclopaedia needs better explaining. In a traditional commercial environment where time is billable, the nature of expectations of another’s actions is different from those in a volunteer-driven world. Being in a position to ‘think more like a Wikipedian’ and to ‘appreciate what motivates a volunteer’ would help to set support expectations at a more realistic level and lead to a deeper understanding of what the wider Wikipedia project is setting out to achieve.
In a more practical sense, it was felt that there was a need for the codification of existing Wikipedia paid for editing policies, WMUK training support in how to best use Wikipedia for PR professionals across the UK and a strong desire on the CIPR and PRCA side, to create a formal training module that could be introduced into PR training courses at university level at some time in the future.
So, a goal was set; to create a set of Social Media Guidelines for PR industry professionals. A target was agreed, to have these ready for the Wikimedia UK AGM on May 12th at the Science Museum, where they would be introduced by a representative from both industry bodies: Neville Hobson (on behalf of the PRCA) and Phillip Sheldrake (on behalf of the CIPR). Then, if this was well-received by the Wikimedia UK membership, to post the Guidelines online shortly after the AGM and to launch a Wikimedia UK-PR industry public consultation process which invited comment from both PR professionals and Wikipedians. This is a process that is now underway and will conclude later in June. I’d encourage Wikipedians to get involved and to post comments on these guidelines.
A second goal was set. That was to get the two PR industry bodies to approach their membership and ask them to get involved in the launch of Monmouthpedia the World’s First Wikipedia Town on May 19th, one week after the AGM. The idea behind this was to get PR professionals working alongside Wikipedians on a project of common benefit. It was also to show the value of the work that Wikipedians do in a fresh light to public relations professionals, thereby, starting the process of deepening the level of understanding of each others’ ways of working on both sides.
The Monmouthpedia initiative involved a number of PRCA member agencies who produced some fabulous communication support. With agencies such as Montpellier PR behind the Wikimedia UK communications team, the press campaign saw 277 news stories across 36 countries and created immense value to the town of Monmouth and to the technological innovation-driven notion of hyper-localism using multi-lingual Wikipedia pages.
Steve Virgin Board Member & Trustee of Wikimedia UK (2009-2012)
About Wikimedia UK
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Wikimedia UK is the Wikimedia chapter covering the United Kingdom. Their aim is to help collect, develop and distribute freely licensed knowledge by bringing the Wikimedia community in the UK together, and by building links with UK-based cultural institutions, universities, charities and other bodies. Wikimedia UK is a registered charity and is supported entirely by voluntary donations.
6) http://monmouthpedia.wordpress.com/ (online press resource)
7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/MonmouthpediA (project pages on Wikipedia)
8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/MonmouthpediA/Public_Relations (public relations messaging)
Innovative collaborative project puts Monmouth on the world map and provides access to almost half a billion people.
Ahead of New York, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Beijing and Berlin, the global digital age reaches a new landmark this week as Monmouth, Wales officially becomes the world’s first Wikipedia town on Saturday 19 May.
This world-first in information sharing will provide instant multilingual access to Wikipedia pages for smartphone users through data collection and recognition tools known as QRpedia codes. Wikimedia UK, the charity body that promotes Wikipedia and other wiki projects in the UK, has been working in partnership over the past six months with the town of Monmouth and local government body Monmouthshire County Council on the project, known as Monmouthpedia.
The Monmouthpedia project creates multilingual versions of Wikipedia pages, about every notable place, person, artifact, flora, fauna in the town of Monmouth and makes them instantly accessible to smartphone users in the town through the installation of QRpedia codes in key locations. The clever part, according to the Monmouthpedia team, is that QRpedia codes display the content in the user’s own language. So, if someone from France whose device is set to work in French scans a code, the Wikipedia content will display in French. The same applies to any language that has related content on Wikipedia.
Roger Bamkin, a Director of Wikimedia UK and co-creator of QRpedia,said: ”We’re delighted that Monmouth is becoming the world’s first Wikipedia town. Both the quality and quantity of the new Monmouth Wikipedia content is outstanding, reflecting the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of the town. At last foreign visitors cannot only read information in their own language, but they can edit it too.”
The project has galvanised the local community of residents, businesses and volunteers who have teamed up with the Wikipedia community to create hundreds of new articles about Monmouth in 25 different languages, as well as improving hundreds of others and according to Wikimedia UK, helps to make this a truly global project as well as a very local one. With the focus on collaboration, many of those contributors taking part have never been to Monmouth, or even the UK.
John Cummings, the local project lead, said: “Wikipedia is all about working to share the sum of all human knowledge with everyone. Monmouthpedia has shown that whole towns can make a contribution to this effort. Because QRpedia codes can be accessed in different languages they have been used throughout the world. I think that giving free access to information in this way allow us to have a richer experience of the world around us.”
Becoming the world’s first Wikipedia town has attracted numerous benefits for Monmouth, including a boost to both local tourism and business alike. Kellie Beirne, Monmouthshire County Council’s Chief Officer for Regeneration and Culture said: “Monmouth has always been known in the UK as a great place to visit and do business. We very quickly realised that embracing technology and fantastic global community projects like this benefits everyone in Monmouthshire and we are delighted to be involved in something so innovative, creative and forward-looking.”
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has taken a keen interest in the project from its inception and the fact that the world–launch is in Wales has not escaped his attention: “I’m really excited by the Monmouthpedia project. Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward thinking people of Monmouth, all of the volunteers and the Wikimedia UK team. I’m looking forward to seeing other towns and cities doing the same thing!”
Since its inception the project has been the subject of intense global interest and has been covered by media from all five continents, partly because of its simplicity. According to Wikimedia’s Roger Bamkin it’s this simplicity that makes the project replicable in every town, city and village around the world, a fact that the team is keen to highlight.
Roger said: “We’ve shown in Monmouth that all it takes is a little creativity, energy and cooperation to put a town on the map and take it to an audience of 480 million people a month. Monmouth may be the first Wikipedia town but we’re hoping for many, many more to follow. Your town could be next, and we hope it is.”
For Wikimedia UK press enquiries please call Stevie Benton, Communications Organiser, on +44 (0) 20 7065 0993 or +44 (0) 7771 778 734. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
For Monmouthshire County Council press enquiries please contact Helen Reynolds at HelenReynolds@monmouthshire.gov.uk or on 01633 644 788.
For the Monmouthpedia project lead please contact John Cummings at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07579 965 063.
Notes to editors
1. Wikimedia UK is the Wikimedia chapter for the UK. It works to support, develop and promote Wikimedia Foundation projects, such as Wikipedia. It does this by bringing together the Wikimedia community and by building links with UK-based cultural institutions, universities, charities and other bodies.
2. Wikipedia is the largest reference work ever created. It’s the sixth most visited website in the world, attracting around 480 million unique visitors every month.
3. The Wikimedia Foundation’s projects include Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikibooks, Wikispecies, Wikiversity and Wikimedia Commons.
The Pew Research Center has come out with a massive new report on the state of media as part of its Project for Excellence in Journalism, and it comes to a number of conclusions about where the industry stands—including the fact that Twitter and Facebook are still driving a fairly small amount of traffic to media outlets (although this segment is growing quickly) and that such tech giants as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft control almost 70 percent of online advertising. But one other thing that becomes clear from the Pew report is just how big a role aggregators of all kinds—both human and machine-powered—are playing in news consumption.
Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, many newspaper companies and other traditional media outlets still seem to think the vast majority of their audience comes to them directly and prefers to read their content above all other sources. More than anything else, this is the core philosophy behind the rise of paywalls—which more and more papers are implementing—and also the millions of dollars media companies have poured into developing iPad apps and other walled-garden-style approaches to news delivery. The assumption is that readers will want only the content that comes from that specific outlet.
For many consumers, however, aggregators of various kinds are the way they consume their news now, whether through Web-based portals like Yahoo News or Google News, or through a variety of newer aggregation-based apps and services, such as Flipboard, Pulse, or Zite for the iPad, as well as News.me, Summify (which was recently acquired by Twitter), and Percolate. According to the Pew report, almost 30 percent of consumers get their news from a “news organizing website or app,” compared with the 36 percent who go directly to a media company’s website or app.
In effect, many users seem to be looking to generate their own digital-newspaper-style overview of the world rather than accepting one from a single media outlet, and if the content they are looking for comes from an aggregator like the Huffington Post because the original is behind a paywall, then so be it. The problem for media companies is that this kind of behavior is in direct conflict with most of the business models they’re relying on for revenue, whether it’s advertising or app- and paywall-based subscription services—which is why such media moguls as News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch continually accuse Google of “piracy.”
And the problem is actually even bigger than that, since the Huffington Post and Google News are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aggregation and/or curation. Although Facebook and Twitter may not be huge factors in terms of news consumption at the moment—as my colleague Staci has pointed out at paidContent—with only 9 percent of users saying they get their news from those networks, that figure has grown almost 60 percent in the past year alone and is likely continuing to increase.
To some extent the curation phenomenon is helping mainstream news organizations, because people are sharing links that get clicked on and drive traffic back to news outlets. This is especially the case with Twitter, since the Pew report notes that a larger proportion of users follow official media sources there, while a majority of Facebook users get their news from friends and family members. But just as with aggregation apps and services, the content that any single media company produces just becomes part of the sea of content that is distributed through these networks.
On top of that, Facebook itself is becoming much more of an aggregator of news, through the “social reading” apps it offers from such outlets as the Washington Post and the Guardian. Although both newspapers have bragged about the number of people who have registered for their apps and shared content through them, the reality is that much of the benefit from that activity ultimately goes to Facebook—in terms of the time users spend on the site, the advertising they are exposed to, etc.—rather than the news outlet.
Emily Bell, the former Guardian digital editor who now runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, noted in a response to the Pew report on Twitter that social platforms like Facebook are becoming “frenemies” with media companies, since they generate traffic but also suck up much of the benefit in terms of advertising.
Millions of Internet users in Iran could soon be permanently cut off from the Web, social networks, and e-mail. In a statement released last week, Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, announced it plans to establish a national intranet within five months in an effort to create a “clean Internet,” according to an International Business Times report. “All Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August,” Taghipour said in the statement. Web sites such as Google, Hotmail, and Yahoo will be blocked and replaced by government-administered services such as like Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine, according to the report. The government has already begun a registration process for those interested in using the Iran Mail that will verify and record user’s full name and address. Taghipour told the Islamic Republic News Agency in January that a firewalled national Internet would soon become operational but no specifics were given as to when that would happen.
Bristol is bidding to bring the international Wikimania conference to the city in 2013. Wikimania is an annual event attended by influential speakers, writers and users of wiki projects such as Wikipedia. Run by the Wikimedia Foundation, if Bristol wins the bid to host the the week-long event, it could welcome the likes of Stephen Fry, Cory Doctorow, Jimmy Wales, Clay Shirky, and Tim Berners-Lee.
Bristol’s bid was submitted on Friday and now there is an online campaign growing to gather support. The city is up against competition across the world, including Hong Kong and Surakarta. Rival bids closer to home are London and Naples, Italy. Bristol recently welcomed Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and also hosts the annual Festival of Ideas which attracts known writers and thinkers. Bristol’s bid promises that if successful, it will:
* Create a wide, generous and secure platform for the active involvement of community groups
* Build a bridge to the non-Wiki community (the Wikiless), inspire a new generation of volunteers
* Create a place and space where working relationships can strive, thrive and develop
* Spread the Wikipedia editing ‘privilege’ to involve more cultures, more women, more wisdom
* Enhance public understanding of shared, free and open source knowledge
* Celebrate and promote successful partnerships and Wiki achievements
This year’s Wikimania will take place in July in Washington DC.
To find out more visit the Bristol bid wiki.
Evolutionary biologist Michael Eisen made this t-shirt design in support of the Elsevier boycott.
Academic research is behind bars and an online boycott by 8,209 researchers (and counting) is seeking to set it free…well, more free than it has been. The boycott targets Elsevier, the publisher of popular journals like Cell and The Lancet, for its aggressive business practices, but opposition was electrified by Elsevier’s backing of a Congressional bill titled the Research Works Act (RWA). Though lesser known than the other high-profile, privacy-related bills SOPA and PIPA, the act was slated to reverse the Open Access Policy enacted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2008 that granted the public free access to any article derived from NIH-funded research. Now, only a month after SOPA and PIPA were defeated thanks to the wave of online protests, the boycotting researchers can chalk up their first win: Elsevier has withdrawn its support of the RWA, although the company downplayed the role of the boycott in its decision, and the oversight committee killed it right away.
But the fight for open access is just getting started.
Seem dramatic? Well, here’s a little test. Go to any of the top academic journals in the world and try to read an article. The full article, mind you…not just the abstract or the first few paragraphs. Hit a paywall? Try an article written 20 or 30 years ago in an obscure journal. Just look up something on PubMed then head to JSTOR where a vast archive of journals have been digitized for reference. Denied? Not interested in paying $40 to the publisher to rent the article for a few days or purchase it for hundreds of dollars either? You’ve just logged one of the over 150 million failed attempts per year to access an article on JSTOR. Now consider the fact that the majority of scientific articles in the U.S., for example, has been funded by government-funded agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, NIH, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, and so on. So while taxpayer money has fueled this research, publishers charge anyone who wants to actually see the results for themselves, including the authors of the articles.
Paying a high price for academic journals isn’t anything new, but the events that unfolded surrounding the RWA was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It began last December when the RWA was submitted to Congress. About a month later, Timothy Gowers, a mathematics professor at Cambridge University, posted rather innocently to his primarily mathematics-interested audience his particular problems with Elsevier, citing exorbitant prices and forcing libraries to purchase journal bundles rather than individual titles. But clearly, it was Elsevier’s support of the RWA that was his call to action. Two days later, he launched the boycott of Elsevier at thecostofknowledge.com, calling upon his fellow academics to refuse to work with the publisher in any capacity.
Seemingly right out of Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, researchers started taking a stand in droves. And the boycott of Elsevier continues on, though with less gusto now that the RWA is dead. It’s important to point out though that the boycott is not aimed at forcing Elsevier to make the journals free, but protesting the way it does its business and the fact that it has profits four times larger than related publishers. The Statement of Purpose for the protest indicates that the specific issues that researchers have with Elsevier varies, but “…what all the signatories do agree on is that Elsevier is an exemplar of everything that is wrong with the current system of commercial publication of mathematics journals.”
The advantages of open access to researchers have been known for some time, but its popularity has struggled.
It’s clear that all forms of print media, including newspapers, magazines, and books, are in a crisis in the digital era (remember Borders closing?). The modern accepted notion that information should be free has crippled publishers and many simply waited too long to evolve into new pay models. When academic journals went digital, they locked up access behind paywalls or tried to sell individual articles at ridiculous prices. Academic research is the definition of premium, timely content and prices reflected an incredibly small customer base (scientific researchers around the globe) who desperately needed the content as soon as humanly possible. Hence, prices were set high enough that libraries with budgets remained the primary customers, until of course library budgets got slashed, but academics vying for tenure, grants, relevance, or prestige continued to publish in these same journals. After all, where else could they turn…that is, besides the Public Library of Science (PLoS) project?
In all fairness, some journals get it. The Open Directory maintains a list of journals that switched from paywalls to open access or are experimenting with alternative models. Odds are very high that this list will continue to grow, but how fast? And more importantly, will the Elsevier boycott empower researchers to get on-board the open access paradigm, even if it meant having to reestablish themselves in an entirely new ecosystem of journals?
As the numbers of dissenting researchers continue to climb, calls for open access to research are translating into new legislation…and the expected opposition. But let’s hope that some are thinking about breaking free from the journal model altogether and discovering creative, innovative ways to get their research findings out there, like e-books or apps that would make the research compelling and interactive. Isn’t it about time researchers took back control of their work?
Broadcasters are increasingly using Twitter to encourage viewers to interact with their programmes. “We think most programming today is spontaneous, but soon as a standard we expect to see broadcasters using hashtags and @ handles to get people involved, said general manager, Twittter UK, Tony Wang. Drawing largely on US examples, despite the number of UK broadcasters using the social networking site, Wang said broadcasters divided into three categories. The first was when broadcasters relied on spontaneity from viewers that made their own Tweets, the second was when broadcasters gave an on screen call to action, and thirdly an artful approach that would get viewers involved. Wang pointed to Fox News coverage of the Republican presidential debate that had actively encouraged the audience to respond to candidates answers, then analysed the Tweets they had received through the broadcast hashtag. Earlier, Kristin Frank, general manager, MTV said later this year one of the broadcaster’s scripted shows would use Twitter to interact with characters and develop plot lines. Characters would then ‘Tweet’ back to their friends.
A new report from researcher NPD In-Stat predicts that 100 million homes in North America and Western Europe will own television sets that blend traditional programs with Internet content by 2016. These new hybrid devices, capable of displaying interactive content related to TV shows, are a bid to hold the viewer’s attention in a device-cluttered world. “The TV people figured out nobody’s just watching TV anymore,” said Gerry Kaufhold, NPD In-Stat’s digital entertainment research director. “They’re watching TV with a tablet or a smartphone or a laptop in their hands.” Indeed, more than 60 percent of viewers check their email or surf the Web while watching TV, according to Nielsen’s 2011 consumer usage report. Programmers realize they need to do something to draw the viewer’s eyes back to the TV screen – even as they develop apps for tablets and smartphones to deliver content related to the show that’s airing. Kaufhold pointed to a European connected TV standard (known as Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) as a bellwether of things to come in North America. Broadcaster France Televisions will use the new hybrid standard during the French Open, which begins in May. Tennis fans can push a single button on their remote controls to bring up an interactive screen that will display real-time scores of other matches, bios of tournament players and news, photos and Twitter streams describing the action.