Posts Tagged 'Twitter'

My Second Birmingham Post Column

Ok, so this is something I’ve never done before (and it may get me in trouble).

Below is a copy of the (unsubbed) version of my column that will go into The Birmingham Post tomorrow.

I wanted to put it here so that people could add comments to it and I could link to it in Del.icio.us before the article was published.

As was pointed out to me, 600 words is never enough, and there is a lot I’ve missed out. So please help me add to it!

There is something I want to share with you. Something that I don’t think a lot of people know:

Journalists are people too.

They are. Honest!

But I doubt you’ll believe me. I am, after all, a journalist.

As a collective body, we seem to be ranked in the public consciousness as something akin to pond life… except a little less trustworthy.

There are numerous surveys placing journalists amongst the ranks of used-car salesmen, estate agents and, heavens forfend, politicians when it comes to trust.

Yet there are many that joined journalism because they wanted to be the trusted, responsible champion of the people.

So what makes people so convinced that, at the drop of a hat, us reporters are willing to lie, cheat and sell our grandmothers for a story?

A straw poll of contacts and friends on micro-blogging service Twitter (an interesting platform that I will delve into more on in a future column) offered up a few explanations:

  • Because some of them are plain untrustworthy – remember Hillsborough and Viglen?”

  • Most who’ve had an article written about them can see how many mistakes get made.”

  • Because when you have a 600 word limit something always gets left out.”

  • Lack of accountability.”

  • Tabloid digging into private lives.”

These show, collectively, we journalists have a long way to go before we are considered even as trustworthy as the ordinary man on the street.

But it is the man on the street that journalists have to worry about in the shiny new world of digital media.

In March, I was lucky enough to be part of a small team of young, West Midland “media types” sent to the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, by Advantage West Midlands-funded project Digital Central.

The conference, which originally started as a music festival, is fast becoming known as a premier event attracting the top international talent in digital media.

My fellow attendees were all “early adopters”. Whether they be housewives, techies or students, they are the ones surfing the crest of the digital wave, the first to adopt all the new and shiny tools and applications that the web has to offer.

Many of them write blogs or produce their own videos, but what shocked me was the ability of some of them to command audiences in the thousands or tens of thousands.

When I asked them how they did it, the answer was pretty uniform: They were trusted and they were “part of a conversation”.

This conversation may be had through blogs, video or audio podcasts, but the fundamental idea is that their audience has redress and can correct and build upon the original work.

By opening up in this way, and by acknowledging their readers as real people, they show themselves to real too – something journalists have avoided in the pursuit of an ideal of objectivity, or a belief that their opinions and writing should command authority.

But these digital pioneers shaping a future for online media are demonstrating that, above all, trust is where it’s at.

The old model of distance between journalist and reader is going to have to change.

It is something The Birmingham Post has been investigating over recent months with the launch of its blogs, its experimentation with social bookmarking service Del.icio.us and Twitter.

By realising that they are just one – hopefully well-researched, well-written and interesting – part of a bigger conversation, journalists have a chance of raising themselves out of the pond and – hopefully – becoming seen as the trusted champions they really should be.

To see some of the websites that helped to inform this column or to respond, please visit http://del.icio.us/joannageary/column2

“Twitter beats Facebook any day…”

Twitter gets its own song courtesy of journalism student Alana Taylor:

“…not many people do it, but me and Scoble do.”

“The cool thing about Twitter is you get to meet new people. You even get to stalk the famous ones too.”

[via Fred Wilson]

The Birmingham Post’s Twittevolution

I’m wondering if this is the first time a UK newspaper – or indeed any UK business – has decided and debated a policy entirely online and on a public platform? Please let me know!

It started with a tweet. This one:

First tweet

And then the whole thing snowballed, with my editor, Marc Reeves, publicly stating that he wanted The Birmingham Post to be the first UK newsroom fully signed up to Twitter:

first reactions

Of course, such a statement wasn’t going to be ignored by those with an interest in online journalism: namely Paul Bradshaw from Birmingham City University and author of the Online Journalism Blog and Martin Stabe from the Press Gazette. There were two other tweets that I couldn’t find. One was Paul Bradshaw saying: “@marcreeves, can I quote you on that?” and another was a response from Marc: “@paulbradshaw gulp. go on then”:

follow up reactions

So… from one tweet from me, The Birmingham Post has developed a policy to be the first UK newspaper to have all its journalists sign up to Twitter and decided to embark on a training programme for its journalists.

Then… after a little while… the policy was signed off by Editorial Director of Trinity Mirror’s regionals, Neil Benson (who, it appears, was also having a spot of bother with his iPhone):

Neil Benson's reaction

From tweet to twittevolution. All in a day’s work off sick!!

Earthquake!

So I was woken up an hour ago by shaking walls and the crashing of books falling off their shelves. It looks now as if the UK has been hit by an earthquake. Reports so far vary suggesting its magnitude was between 4.7 and 5.3 [edit: modified to 4.9 at 0245].

It’s the second time the earth has moved for me in Brum – the first being the Dudley earthquake in 2002.

The difference this time (as well as it being bigger – rumours are that this one was the largest earthquake in the UK for 20 years) was that I could confirm instantly that there had been a quake by logging on to Twitter, whereas I spent hours in 2002 convinced the rumbling must have been an explosion. As my Twitter account demonstrates, there were a fair few of us wondering what had shaken us out of our slumber.

It was interesting too that the first report I saw about the earthquake from a news organisation was via a tweet from Bounder. Through Twittersearch he had found a report from Twitter-based Dutch news service BreakingNewsOn. I then found other links to sites including a Seesmic (apt name for this) video blog from Midlands-based Documentally. [this was blogged seconds after the quake, I am told] I even tried to put my not-so-great skills into a Google map of the epicentre. [which, according to Podnosh, scooped Sky News!]

More on how the story unfolded from ReadWriteWeb. I’m off back to bed!

Metatwitter

Paul Bradshaw defines Twitter in an interview… via Twitter.

The post starts in German, but Paul’s bit is in English:

halbluchs: @paulbradshaw what makes twitter so popular and addictive? is it just a hype or is it more?

paulbradshaw: @halbluchs the same things that have made texting so popular: brevity, connectivity, control.

Worth a read, especially for journos who are trying to figure out the best way to use Twitter in their jobs.

Twitter: a case study

Yesterday I logged on to Twitbin and saw that bounder had tweeted about Birmingham’s Conservative MEP website using a picture of Birmingham Alabama by accident.

The story ended up making the nationals (due to a press release by Labour who, apparently, didn’t credit their original source). But bounder’s tweet got to me well before then and about five seconds before one of my colleagues put down the phone to a contact who had rang him about it.

Now it was always going to be my colleague’s story as he has far better political links. But, if it shows one thing, it shows how Twitter can be a rather speedy way to transmit a story.

I just wish the Twitter feed on this website updated faster – so far it has been as slow as a very slow thing going slowly. Grr.

Tweeting my stories

Well now I have my shiny new laptop sitting next to me all day (review to come), I thought I’d start playing around with the fun stuff.

I’m going to start tweeting about what I’m working on. When I know what the main story is I’m going to work on each day, I’ll tweet about it. That way it might allow folks who can and want to shed light on the topic to do so.

Will it work? No idea! I haven’t got many followers at the moment. But I’ve already started with today’s job: a story on energy.


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