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.
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.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has teamed up with the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation to introduce Facebook and Twitter content to its programmes as part of the broadcaster’s social media strategy. ABC’s manager of new media services, Chris Winter, told Fairfax Media: “It’s about allowing people to engage a little more than they have been able to in the past with what they’re watching.
“One of the great prompters of conversation is what you’re watching on the telly. In the past we sat in the lounge room and talked to the person sitting next to us, in the future it will become easier and easier to engage with people who are not in the same room.” The broadcaster wants to engage with viewers using smartphones and tablet computers while watching TV content. Developed by National ICT Australia (NICTA), the technology can overlay online discussions currently occurring on Twitter discussion on top of any show across the ABC’s multiple channels.
BBC News political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg built up a large following on Twitter with her mix of news, commentary and colour. Her move to ITV News in September has raised questions over who “owns” the almost 60,000 people who follow @BBCLauraK.
The Guardian suggests that “rather than handing her old account login back to the BBC to start from scratch with a new ITV account, the sensible thing to do is to change the name of the account.” But it looks like Kuenssberg will be starting from scratch, with the Twitter handle, @ITVLauraK. Ironically, the announcement was made by Kuenssberg on her BBC Twitter account. Social media creates an opportunity for journalists to interact on a personal level with audiences. Even if an account is branded as a “BBC” journalist, it blurs the traditional barrier between the professional and personal as tweets tend to reflect the personality of the reporter.
It marks a further step in the shift from the institutional to the individual brand of the journalist, identified by the State of the Media report in 2009: Through search, e-mail, blogs, social media and more, consumers are gravitating to the work of individual writers and voices, and away somewhat from institutional brand. Social media provides journalists with a way to connect and interact with audiences in a more personal and direct way than through traditional news products. But there is an unresolved tension between the journalist and the institution, especially on Twitter, which as Jemima Kiss points out, is designed for individuals to communicate.
Media institutions may have to accept that they cannot own the Twitter accounts of their reporters. The journalist may need to switch to a new account, as Kuenssberg will be doing, but they are likely to take their following with them.
Inspired by the recent Tunisian demonstrations against corruption, protesters are filling the streets of Cairo. And like the protests in Tunisia, the Egyptian ones were partly organized on Facebook and Twitter. And now Twitter appears to be blocked in Egypt, according to various Tweets and tips we’ve received. However, so far only the Twitter website itself is blocked (including the mobile site), but people in Cairo are still using Twitter third-party clients to keep on Tweeting. There are also reports of the entire mobile Web being blocked through mobile carriers, but at least one carrier, Vodafone Egypt, denies that it is blocking Twitter, attributing the problem to overloaded networks instead. Update: one tipster says Twitter apps are blocked as well and that the only way to Tweet is by using Web proxies. Update 2: Asked to confirm that Twitter is blocked in Egypt, Google PR points to this Herdict Report, which indicates that it is in fact inaccessible in that country.
Facebook is also being used to organize the demonstrations, with groups also popping up around the world to document the uprising and lend its support. For instance, one Facebook Group called We Are All Khaled Said, features up-to-the-minute updates on the protests and photos from the scene. Khaled Said was “a young man brutally tortured and killed by police in Alexandria,” explains Blake Hounshell on the Foreign Policy blog, and his death has become a rallying point for the demonstrations which fall on “Police Day,” a national holiday in Egypt.
Update: The Facebook Group is reporting that the police are firing at the protestors with rubber bullets.
Increasingly, social media is playing an important role in organizing and broadcasting protests against governments around the world. Unlike television or newspapers, Twitter and Facebook are not so easy to control other than blocking them entirely because of their distributed nature. By the time a regime realizes its only option is to block a service like Twitter, the protests are usually already well under way. And reports keep coming out via these channels anyway, making them the most immediate way to watch the protests (and sometimes subsequent uprisings) unfold. The reports may not always be accurate right away (confusing rubber bullets for “live ammunition,” for instance, but they tend to self-correct quickly.
Twitter is set to triple its advertising revenue this year and could generate USD 250m in ad revenue in 2012, according to an industry research firm’s projection. The revenue estimates provide one of the first public assessments of the fast-growing Web service’s money-making performance and come a month after Twitter was valued at USD 3.7bn. Twitter, which had 175 million users as of September, is among the new crop of popular Internet social networking services including Facebook, Zynga and LinkedIn. According to the report released on Monday by industry research firm eMarketer, San Francisco-based Twitter generated an estimated USD 45m from ads in 2010 and is expected to bring in USD 150m in ad revenue in 2011. The growth in Twitter’s revenue this year will come from the forthcoming launch of a self-service advertising feature, eMarketer said. The report noted that such a self-service advertising capability, in which marketers can quickly create ads online, has been a major factor behind growth at Google Inc and Facebook
Ping – Apple’s new social media network, will allow users to follow friends’ music interests working in a stream of updates similar way to Facebook or Twitter Having cornered the MP3 player, mobile phone and computer tablet markets with the iPod, iPhone and iPad devices respectively, last night Apple announced its latest expansion – into social media – with Ping. Ping will be integrated into Apple’s latest iTunes software update and will enable users, or “Pingers”, to follow musicians, friends and others to see details including what music they’re buying and what concerts they’re attending. Steve Jobs, Apple’s chairman and chief executive, said the information will arrive in a long stream of updates, similar to the way Facebook and Twitter work. “Be as private or as public as you want. The privacy is super-easy to set up,” he said adding that users can choose to automatically accept followers or decide on a follower-by-follower basis – similar sounding controls to those on Twitter. The service is available immediately to more than 160 million iTunes users, Jobs said, and will also be available across the iPhone and iPod Touch ranges.