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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’
09 Jul

How to routinely crowdsource – easily

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For the last few months I’ve been giving a presentation on How to Harness the Power of Social Media or Advance Social Media Reporting or what I called (and still need to refine) Real-Time Reporting.

In the presentation, I introduce how social media tools like Twitter, FourSquare and even YourOpenBook.org can help improve our reporting.

I know I am guilty of it at times, but I hate when people vaguely talk about how great new tools are but don’t give concrete examples… so for this particular session I try to outline actual steps/scenarios on how to actually use these things in real life.

During #wjchat episode 22, I was asked how do you actually crowdsource… I rattled off five steps that capture what I tell folks during my presentation.

In cased you missed those tweets, here they are… slightly longer than 140:

Step 1:

The moment you know you are going to an assignment/event/location, announce it. Tell people you are covering the event and ask who is attending. The sooner, the better… and do it multiple times… without looking like a crazy spammer.

Step 2:

When you arrive to the scene, tweet that you are there… again, ask who is there too. The point is to find sources! Also, get people to join your reporting… ask for tips, suggestions and possible questions.

Step 3:

Give updates from the scene… not only text, but send out images and videos when applicable. Again, do a call out for tips, suggestions and questions. You are giving people direct access and getting them an opportunity to get involved.

Step 4:

When you are done, tell people when they can expect to see or read your completed, “official” piece. And, if you got responses, thank people for their help.

Step 5:

After piece runs, ask for feedback, comments, thoughts and tips. Engage with your community before, during and after these acts of journalism… be genuine and social in social media!

 

Additional tips:

Make sure you use hashtags throughout the process! Either use the established one or create a logical one the community would use.

You may or may not get responses, but doing this doesn’t cost you ANYTHING. Remember, it takes less than a minute per tweet!

If you get responses, don’t feel forced to use them, but be grateful you have people engaged enough that they want to HELP you. Make sure you response and thank them. I have a few examples of how crowd sourcing has helped reporters do simple, routine stories. Makes your job EASIER! And makes you more relevant and valuable to the community… which routinely translates to job security. (Well, it should.)

Everyone knows that “If your mom says she loves you, check it out.” That old journalism saying applies to tweets, as well as your mom. Just because someone tweets that they are there or gives you a juicy tidbit of info, it does not mean that it is fact. Check it out! What do we call this… reporting! Do some of that. If you get lazy, you get burned. More importantly, credibility is hard to build, but easy to lose.

And remember, these tweets/communications took only moments… think about it. Fifteen minutes can make all the difference.

Here’s a PDF of my Social Network Reporting presentation.

 

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?

28 Apr

Hugo Chàvez selects his weapon of choice for Twitter

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UPDATE: Hugo Chàvez (or his Social Media guru) has updated his Twitter page with some nice, revolutionary red colors. He is also now following five people… @ubertwitter is not one of them.

First tweet by Hugo Chàvez

Venezuela’s controversial president Hugo Chàvez has just joined Twitter (@chavezcandanga)… and he’s taken a page from Conan O’Brien‘s (@ConanOBrien) Twitter playbook.

Just like the late night talk show host, Chàvez is following only one person. Unlike the late night talk show host, Chàvez probably didn’t really think about who he selected.

(For the record, by “person,” I’m using the U.S. Supreme Court‘s version of the term.)

Chàvez is following @ubertwitter, the Twitter client popular on BlackBerry smartphones.

More than likely it was a default setting, but I can’t help but wonder… is TweetDeck jealous or relieved.

Categories: Social Media, Twitter Tags: ,
27 Feb

DIY and passion give birth to #wjchat

NOTE: This piece is also running on OJR: The Online Journalism Review

For me, it began with a snarky tweet: #journchat Bad name, good PR.

Apparently that tweet touched a nerve and prompted Web journalists to come out of the Twitterverse to express agreement.

Before I continue, let me define two things:

  • #journchat is a Twitter chat that is “an ongoing conversation between journalists, bloggers and PR folks” held weekly on Twitter. Created by @PRsarahevans, the first Twitter chat was held Monday, November 24, 2008. While it has “journalism” in the name, it skews heavily toward public relations.
  • A Twitter chat essentially is a regularly held chat, usually weekly, on a specific topic… tied together through a hashtag. A group of Twitterers gather and talk about whatever… blogging, book editing, etc.

Moments after that snarky tweet went out the hunger for Web journalists to network and learn from each other was apparent.

It makes sense.

We’re a community that is constantly evolving, struggling to find the “right” solution for our unique situations… from inside our newsrooms… often alone. Many of us have met at conferences or through social networking, but never regularly.

It was that passionate need mixed with the DIY-spirit of the web that got @lilgirlbigvoice @killbutton @kimbui and myself together to create #jchat within five hours from meeting each other the first time.

While I had known P. Kim Bui from the past, I had just met Bethany Waggoner and Amira Dughri during the Feb. 1 journchat. Soon, our group grew and included Kate Gardiner (@kategardiner) and Robin Phillips (@RobinJP) among others.

We worked out the details for the debut chat first through Google Wave, but moved to the more stable Etherpad. We selected a topic, drafted some questions and volunteered our first guest moderator… which turned out to be me.

After finding that the @jchat Twitter account was taken and essentially dead, we changed the name to @wjchat. We also launched the blog site.

Through the power of our networks we promoted the inaugural chat that launched Wed., Feb 10, 2010. You can read the first transcription here.

We’re now three chats in and, dare I say it, the weekly conversation is a success.

It’s been my honor and privilege to see how this idea has been embraced by the community. For me, this is just another example of the power of the Web and the value of social media.

I encourage you all to join us this, and hopefully every, Wednesday at 5PM PST as we, together, go through these unprecedented changes in our industry… learning from each other, supporting each other and building our community.

π