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Posts Tagged ‘Real-Time Web’
03 Aug

What’s your role in correcting a retweeted hoax?

It happens to all of us, and last week it happened to me.

I got punked… by a hoax.

That study that claimed IE6 users have a lower IQ, as much as we may still feel like it’s true, was a fake.

I’ve been punked by hoaxes in the past, I’m sure, but the difference with this one is that I retweeted it and helped spread the misinformation. And, in turn, my tweet was retweeted a half dozen times.

Now, I didn’t know it was a hoax at the time. I have to admit, though, I immediately bought into it. Old browsers are hated by Web Developers. But when I shared it I was thinking it was “proof” rather than trying to willing lie to people.

In other words, I don’t think I committed a journalistic sin because I didn’t know it was fake at the time. Retweeting a rumor and treating it as fact, that’s a journalism sin… this was more a case of journalistic laziness, because in my heart “I knew it to be true.”

Typically, I read the links before I share them with others – not endorsements, per say, but informed sharing. In this case, I didn’t even question it and re-shared. (NOTE: I still believe there is something wrong with you if you are using IE6.)

Tim Carmody, who wrote the piece exposing the hoax for Wired, said it perfectly:

.@ One thing I talk about in the article is how these hoaxes 1) give us ammo in an argument & 2) confirm what we already think.
@tcarmody
Tim Carmody

While I didn’t commit a journalism sin, I did, knowing or not, participate in spreading this hoax. So, what is my responsibility now?

I went straight to the correction expert and asked Craig Silverman, of Regret the Error, for advice. His response:

@ @ You should message anyone who RT’d your incorrect RT to let them know it was a hoax. And ask them to spread word.
@CraigSilverman
Craig Silverman

My response:

@ Will do! And I’ll say two ‘Our Fathers’ … that’s the Catholic side of me. I can’t help it. // @
@webjournalist
Robert Hernandez

While not a sin, I still felt dirty. So much so, that I also posted a correction on Google+ and wrote this piece.

I’m happy to report, moments after I asked those who retweeted me to spread the corrected info, nearly all did.

What are your thoughts? How would you have corrected this “error?” Do you consider it an error?

28 Sep

Web Journalism’s rules of tech engagement

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NOTE: This originally was posted to my professor/class blog: http://www.elprofe.me/2010/07/08/the-web-journalism-rules/. Seeing that these are a constant in many of my posts, I am re-publishing them here and on the Online Journalism Review site: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201009/1889/

 
For some time now I’ve been preaching the Real-Time Reporting gospel, harnessing not only social media but all tech to advance journalism.

And while it, for me, is based on core journalistic values, it was clear a handful of folks were thinking my message was attempting to replace the way we did reporting.

So, that prompted me to whip up the rules I present at nearly every talk I give. This is a list of guidelines to remember when you engage with constantly evolving Web Journalism.

These are the rules I work under.

 

Rule #1. Journalism first, technology second

Technology is, and will always be, changing. Our journalism core values do not. News judgment and ethics are key no matter if journalism is in the form of pixels or paper or whatever.

The point to all of this – printed word, Flash interactives, video documentaries, visualized data, social media, etc. – is not the tool. Let’s be clear, the point is serving the community by helping them be informed citizens in a democratic society.

It’s the people and their stories, not the databases and Twitter followers.

We use these powerful tools to help advance our journalism, not replace it. Got it? Good.

Rule #2. If your mom says tweets she loves you, check it out

This is basic Journalism 101 and it applies to old school and new media alike. Whether you get an in-person tip or a Twitter message (it’s okay to call it a tweet, y’all), it is not fact… it’s the start of the reporting process, not the end of it.

If you get lazy and not fact-check, you’ll get burned. Remember, all we have is credibility… our word… it takes a lot of time and hard work to build up credibility, but no time at all to lose it.

Rule #3. Web/tech, including Social Media, does not replace in-person or phone interviews

There is an actively engaged community sharing a ton of information – much of it is TMI – on the Web. We’d be doing a disservice to our community by not engaging them in these new spaces.

But remember, while millions and millions are on Facebook and Twitter, there are millions who aren’t. Engage with your community in every space, but remember to reach out to the voiceless. The digital divide is still a reality.

Rule #4. Citizen, Brand and Journalist

This is just the way it is. As a journalist, you’re not a typical civilian. This ain’t no 9-to-5 job… this is a lifestyle. Sorry.

So, when you experiment and engage with these new technologies, there are three roles you need to be aware of: Citizen, Brand and Journalist.

Your behavior can and does affect each one of these roles. Be conscious about what you are saying and doing. Be who you are… don’t fake it. But always work under the impression that there is no privacy online… because there isn’t any.

Rule #5. BE OPEN

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Why would anyone do FourSquare?” Before that it was “Why would anyone use Twitter?” Before that it was “Why would anyone blog?” And before that, it was “Why would anyone go and use the Internet?”

Get over it… and use it. Try it out. See if it works for your daily journalism routine. If you don’t like it… stop. But then try it again.

This is the new world we are in, and fighting against it does nothing but hurt you. So, learn about it and try new things. Isn’t that one of the reasons why you got into journalism in the first place?

 

I hope these are useful guidelines. If you think there are incomplete or inaccurate, or if you think these are perfect, comment and send me feedback. Let’s have a dialogue about this new world.

21 Sep

Real-time Web + Journalism = Real-time reporting

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201009/1887/

The next phase of the Internet affecting journalism — for better or worse — is well underway.

We started out with Web sites, then blogs, then the interactivity of Web 2.0. Now, we are in the era of the real-time Web.

Which, for us in journalism, means real-time reporting.

This next phase has the power to improve and advance our journalism, but also puts our core journalistic values to the test.

Twitter’s original question, “What are you doing?” has evolved to “What’s happening?” Social Media has made telling people where you are, what you think, what you see, a common expression on the Web — again, for better or worse.

Yes, Social Media is routinely filled with TMI and, quite frankly, unless information. But it also has given the average person the ability to document and share newsworthy and historical events the moment they happen are happening.

Just look at the latest example from a few weeks ago: A gunman walked in the Discovery Channel headquarters holding people hostage.

The real-time Web went to work with first-hand witnesses.

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets from scene

I was in my office, across the country when the news began to break. For those that know me and have attended my workshops, you’ve heard me go on about harnessing the power of social media.

Well, here was a perfect example. So, I tweeted two tips:

WebJournalist's tip to D.C. reporters

WebJournalist's second tip to D.C. reporters

Searching Twitter, I was able to find people sending updates from the Discovery Channel’s zip code (Here are some highlights that I found). Using FourSquare, I was able to find someone who had “checked in” to the building before the incident.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

Possible witnesses, potential sources.

The power of the real-time Web was in full swing… and so was its potential danger: People with best intentions can give out incorrect information.

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman

Now, don’t become all traditionalists on me and dismiss this new phase by saying that risk of misinformation is way to high. Let’s be honest here, the concept of possible bad information has been around long before Twitter… and even before the Web.

Remember that saying, “if your mom says she loves you, check it out.” Well, if your mom tweets she loves you, check it out.

These are not facts. These are tips. These are potential sources. These are places you as a journalist bring your core values — news judgment, ethics, accuracy, transparency — to vet information to make sure you have accurate information.

But mistakes will happen — in both paper and pixels.

That’s why our core values are so important. They should constantly guide us through any story, under any deadline.

In the real-time Web speed is highly valued. But responsibility and credibility outweighs that. Be known for getting it right first, not for getting it first and wrong.

This is where being a “professional,” whatever that means, matters. But remember, the real-time Web also can help. Here’s that photo that @techsavvymama retweeted, along with an explanation from a former Discovery Channel employee why the person in the photo likely is not the gunman.

YFrog pic of someone with gun

Former Discovery employee explain why it probably isn't the gunman

NOTE: @techsavvymama messaged me immediately after I published this post to say that she believes the garden is, in fact, open to the public.

For the record, real-time reporting is more than just using social media.

A reporter can be sending out images or live video (UStream, Qik, Twitcasting, etc.) from their cell phones. A photographer or reporter could be automatically uploading images from their camera using technology like the Eye-Fi.

It’s journalism without a safety net… it’s hyperlocal AND global journalism… it’s working under the deadline of now, 15 minutes from now and 15 minutes ago.

The journalism game has changed — again. And this won’t be the last time. While technology evolves, what is constant and never-changing are our core journalistic values.

Hold them close as you harness the power of real-time reporting.

20 Sep

Real-time tweets from Discovery Channel hostage situation

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On Sept. 1, 2010, James J. Lee walked into One Discovery Place armed with pistols and explosives. Here is a sample of tweets sent from the zip code of The Discovery Channel’s headquarters in D.C. These sample messages are collected from Twitter Search and listed in chronological order with a PDT *timestamp.

These are typical citizens that dabble in Twitter. The majority had less than 100 followers. For examples, one user has 46 followers and had only had 47 tweets at the time. These folks are not social media gurus… they are regular, real folks.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets form scene

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman



* I noticed that the timestamp varied between the Chrome and FireFox browsers. These screen shots were taken with FireFox.

07 May

Real-Time Reporting, the next level of journalism

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I don’t know if this post will make sense, but let’s just call this a rough draft of a rant… or prediction… or I don’t know what. I just wanted to put some thoughts down, no matter how raw, because we’re on the verge of some significant changes.

I was asked recently by the Online News Association to lead a session on Social Network Reporting (SNR). That’s when we as journalists harness the power of Social Media throughout our process – looking for sources, crowd sourcing, distributing content, engaging with our community, etc.

I’ve done several presentations for classes and a couple of workshops, but the request was to be more “advanced” … not SNR101, but the next level.

The thing is SNR is actually very simple and built on basic concepts. After you understand the power and value of Social Media, learn the lingo and play with the tools, there isn’t much else to learn. Just make it part of your journalism routine.

In other words, there’s not really an “advanced” to SNR except maybe experimenting with the latest tools and apps.

But the idea got me thinking… While SNR is an incredibly valuable tool, one that is still being under utilized… it’s really still just a tool… and it’s a tool inside a toolbox that I am labeling Real-Time Reporting (RTR).

For me, that is the “advanced” level. That’s the next logical step for us.

The Real-Time Web is a concept that has solidified because of Social Media. What are you doing now? What do you think now? And this applies to us in journalism because it’s the same behavior as breaking news.

Social Media is key. But there are other aspects to explore in this real-time reality.

As journalists, RTR takes the latest from technology (hardware, software and infrastructure) and mashes it up with our core journalistic values (news judgment, ethics, law, spelling/grammar, etc.).

It’s journalism without a safety net… it’s hyperlocal AND global journalism… it’s working under the deadline of now, in 15 minutes and 15 minutes ago… it’s MacGyvering technology to do journalism by any means necessary.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say there is a breaking news story. Let’s imagine that there is a shooting at a local mall. We hear the news breaking on the police scanner.

Typically, the Metro/Assignment desk immediately dispatches a reporter or crew to go to the scene. Meanwhile, someone calls the authorities to get the latest information on the record.

Eventually the reporter arrives at the scene and begins to hunt for witnesses and sources. As they get information, they file it or call it in… well, they should. Or, if they are broadcast, they do a live report when they have gathered enough information.

With SNR, in addition to calling the authorities for official information, someone is also searching Twitter, Flickr, and other social media looking for people at the scene… looking for potential sources. They should also be asking for any tips and contacts through their social networks… and ask the community to spread the call for help.

When the reporter eventually makes the scene, they should announce their arrival, location and availability on their own social networks… this allows potential sources to reach out.

The news organization should make sure to take the time to thank those in the community who helped with the coverage. It should also promote the pieces, which essentially distributes the work.

In addition to the real-time of social media, there are new tools we should employ when appropriate… which takes this to RTR.

A reporter can be sending out images or live video (UStream, Qik, Twitcasting, etc.) from their cell phones. A photographer or reporter could be automatically uploading images from their camera using technology like the Eye-Fi.

If they had a laptop, camera and stronger Internet access, they could do a more complex live shot that includes participation from the audience… a live chat from the scene.

I can’t wait for the day when a low-end camcorder is going to have an external mic jack for better audio and the ability to upload immediately… we’re almost there. Kodak’s Zi8 and the Eye-Fi would be powerful together… but they currently don’t work together.

People chuckle when I pitched this, but I foresee the day when a device becomes THE reporter’s super notebook. A laptop is too heavy, Internet connections are unpredictable and it needs a power source. Meanwhile, a smart phone is too small, horrible to type on and needs to be recharged often.

In the meantime, technology is giving us patchwork solutions. The MiFi from Verizon and Sprint gives you broadband anywhere. There are external batteries that keep your iPhone and laptops charged for longer periods of time. You can buy accessories to like an external keyboard for you phone or an app to sync your iPhone camera to your cameraless iPad.

But it is only a matter of time when text, photos, audio and video are available in an appropriate sized device that easily takes journalists to the next level… real-time reporting.

And when this technology arrives, it will really begin to separate those who can produce quality journalism on deadline from those who can’t. It will test our core values. There are a lot of challenges when you go live… lots of opportunities to fail… to get wrong. So we need to be at the top of our game to build and maintain our credibility.

Professional journalists – with or without formal training – will emerge as they are no longer worried about technology they routinely use. We’re not going to be wow’ed or scared by the latest device. We’ll just embrace it and return the focus on the content… because it’s always been about the content.

I don’t know if this made any sense… or if this future scares you… or if you are as excited about it as I am… but I believe this is where we are headed.

Journalism continues to evolve… are you ready for the next level?

π