“I’m not seeing the value in Twitter,” a journalist told me in a recent workshop.
I took up the challenge to show this journalist why Twitter is valuable. I have said often that Twitter is the most useful tool developed for journalists in my 41-year career, with the possible exception of the cellphone (which you can use to tweet and read tweets, so they add to each other’s value).
I don’t think the journalist was asking as a curmudgeon (though in some ways this post is a continuation of my Dear Newsroom Curmudgeon post last spring, an effort to help journalists who haven’t been changing as swiftly as the news business). It does say something about your openmindedness if in 2012 you have ignored all the news stories the last several years where Twitter was an essential source of news. But the journalist’s tone was not defiant, more the tone of someone asking for help. And I like to provide help, even if the request is overdue. The journalist admitted to writing a column a while back essentially “flipping the bird to social media.” Despite that, he’s learning Facebook now, but he just doesn’t get Twitter. He’s a busy journalist and doesn’t see why Twitter is valuable enough to squeeze into his day. He was busy enough that day that he had to leave my workshop to cover a story, so I didn’t have much time to respond in person.
My job now is to help this skeptic see the value I’ve seen for years. Most of my persuasion with this journalist will be in private correspondence (I sent him a couple emails Friday that I hope will be helpful), but I’ll start with this blog post. When he sees the value and acknowledges it to me, I will do a follow-up blog post, naming him if that’s OK with him or keeping our relationship confidential (beyond those in the conference room where I pledged to help him see the value).
Here are 10 ways that Twitter is valuable to journalists: (more…)
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Posted in Digital First journalism, Digital First Media, tagged Alan Mutter, C3, Dan Conover, Digital First journalism, Digital First Media, Jeff Jarvis, John Paton, Ken Doctor, mobile first, obituaries, Peter Kirwan, Steve Outing on December 23, 2011 |
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I have blogged this week about various aspects of Digital First journalism. For any of that to succeed, Digital First must succeed as a business.
It will. It is. I’m not going to explain that in detail in this post, though. I’m going to shift to curation (an important process and skill in Digital First journalism), because lots of people have already explained the business aspects of Digital First well.
John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media (and Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group) explained the Digital First business approach better than I would (which is good, since he’s the CEO) in his June address to the International Newsroom Summit in Zurich: How the Crowd Saved Our Company. His recent post on news media as medium and messenger elaborates, including the slide below. His September post announcing the formation of Digital First discussed some of the results of the approach so far (and we’re just getting started).
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Digital First journalists think creatively and individually, so this is a post that can’t be completely true.
To whatever extent my observations here are true, Digital First journalists will reflect wide variety in the degree and application of the ideas and views I describe here. But I think these are ways many Digital First journalists think that differ from traditional journalism thinking.
- A Digital First journalist views a story as a process, not a product.
- A Digital First journalist likes to be first with the story or the idea, but likes to link when she’s not (as I linked above to a blog post where Jeff Jarvis discusses the view of the story as a process). (more…)
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Posted in Innovation in the media, tagged Clay Shirky, Columbia Journalism Review, Dan Gillmor, Dean Starkman, future of journalism, Ida Tarbell, investigative journalism, Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, John Paton, watchdog journalism on November 8, 2011 |
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I bow to no one in my love for the good old days of journalism. But everyone trying to take journalism back to the good old days should understand some basic truths:
- You won’t find the future by retreating to the past.
- Whatever comes next in journalism can’t and shouldn’t be built to replace either the best or worst of current or historic journalism. You build the future on the technology and opportunities of the future in the context of the future.
- Watchdog reporting performed by professional journalists is absolutely part of journalism’s future, and I don’t know anyone discussing the future of journalism who doesn’t plan and hope for a successful future for professional watchdog reporting.
- Journalism of the past doesn’t look as strong on closer examination as it does through your nostalgic filter.
I worked at the Des Moines Register in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Time magazine named it one of the 10 best newspapers in the United States. I was there when Jim Risser won his second Pulitzer Prize and when Tom Knudson wrote the series that won his first Pulitzer. I was there when our coverage of the 1980 and 1984 Iowa caucuses made us an important player in national political coverage. If someone had a magic wand to turn back the clock to the early 1980s, I would be sorely tempted to wave that wand and throw over my current career with Digital First Media. It all looks so rosy through the glasses of nostalgia.
But if I waved that wand, I would have to relive the death of the Des Moines Tribune, the afternoon newspaper our company folded in 1982. And I would relive the disappointment and embarrassment that the journalists of that day did not shine the light brightly enough to prevent the savings and loan crisis that rocked the economy and cost the taxpayers more than $100 billion.
Nostalgia is fun and it’s warm, and for journalists today, it’s seductive and dangerous. (more…)
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Twitter has succeeded in spite of itself.
As a concept, Twitter is brilliant, revolutionizing communication worldwide with its simple concept of sharing short messages. As a company, it continues to disappoint me with its mediocre technology and its poor customer service.
Readers of this blog know that I am an enthusiastic and tireless advocate for Twitter as a journalism tool. The Twitter category on my blog has more than 100 entries, the second most-used category on this blog.
Early in my days using Twitter (early 2008), the company had trouble keeping up with the growth of its service. The “fail whale” was a regular feature and a running joke among the tweeps.
We were patient, though, because we liked the service. You don’t see the whale as often, but I regularly get messages apologizing because tweets can’t load at that moment. They still fail; they just don’t show the whale. (more…)
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