Social media has transformed journalism for both good and bad. I awhile back I wrote: Tech Reporters Becoming More News Monitors and Managers. I noted that social media, and especially Twitter is spreading good and bad information equally quickly, and in volume. It is often the first story out that wins t and this condition is called term Churnalism. In my next post, Content Curation in Action, I mentioned an Economist article, Meet the Curators, that notes that "aggregation" or "curation" of other people's coverage is becoming recognized more and more as one of the indispensable elements of journalism. They add that, “Being able to scan a vast range of material, determine what's reliable, relevant and sufficiently objective, decide what will actually interest your particular readers and arrange it in a way that they can use are not trivial skills.”
Now here are some practical suggestions for using Twitter in a responsible way as a journalist in the post, Journalism's new wave: the world in a tweet by Mark Colvin of ABC. This is relevant not just to the traditional professional journalist but to all us bloggers who report about what is happening in our niche of the world. Mark begins with a long and interesting history of his work in journalism and the evolving technologies form typewriters to Twitter. It also spanned my professional years and the information technologies I used so his experiences were meaningful.
Then Mark gets down to some practical suggestions building off the work of researcher Jess Hill. Jessie uses twitter to follow a lot of people who post about areas of the world we're currently interested in. They “monitor patterns and cross-reference what they see, so that they'll get early warning of breaking stories and then try to verify what they're seeing.” But they do not just accept the tweets at face value. When people appear to be eyewitnesses on the ground, they DM them to get phone numbers and Skype addresses. As Mark notes this approach “relies on old and proven journalistic techniques, like source-checking and cultivating contacts.”
Mark also mentioned the Twitter work of Andy Carvin at NPR who monitors and challenges news stories coming out of the Middle East. I knew Andy when he was in Boston before his NPR days and have great respect for his efforts.
Mark goes onto summarize two Twitter journalism tips. Forst, “If you're going to cultivate sources on Twitter, make sure you stay in touch with them, even when nothing's happening. Show them you care about them as people, that they're not just a story - develop a relationship, just like journalists have always done.” This makes a lot of sense.
Second, “Read many different news sources. If you're not really across the news, Twitter feeds will just look like random chatter, and you won't be able to judge what stories are the most important to focus on.” This is where the Darwin Awareness Engine™ can help as it did with PBS.
As Rob Paterson, working with PBS, said, “What Darwin enables you to do is to see a pattern. To see a pattern you must be ready to see it so you must have a hypothesis on any topic that is complex. Darwin enables me to set up the feeds to reach deeply into the various components of my hypothesis… Then, as step three, Darwin presents me with layers of results every day based on these feeds.”
Darwin does the content aggregation and shows the themes so you do not have to spend energy looking through multiple sources, but rather focus on the emerging patterns from these sources. It can complement Twitter and other social media sources to help focus the journalist’s efforts. I use it this way to help cover the enterprise 2.0 space for this blog through the Darwin Edition on enterprise social media.