Citizen Media Watch

november 28th, 2008

Good use of microblogging in journalism – give us more examples!

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Whether status updates on social media sites should count as microblogging or not, the walled garden that Facebook still is to a large extent, makes status updates if not useless from a publishing perspective then atleast difficult to accommodate as they are on an open to all site. The same goes for users whose updates are not public on regular microblogging services. For crowdsourcing, feedback and research they are still good tools.

There are good examples of microblogging serving a journalistic purpose, though these initiative do not necessarily come from professional journalists.

  • The Twitter Vote Report is one, where Americans across the country made short reports on how the voting in the US election was really going, using hashtags to pinpoint where they were and what their report was about, for instance #machine for problems with the voting machines. They also reported on waiting times. It all ended up on a big map where you could follow the progress in real time.
  • Get eye-witness reports and comments. For instance check out this Twitter channel on the bombings in Mumbai. More on the Mumbai coverage here.
  • Live reporting from an event. By using an established microblogging site you get comments from site members and you invite them in a natural way.
  • Live commentary to tv shows. One example is Drive on Fox.
  • Coming up with questions for interviews. By asking people what they want to know from a person you’re to interview you get more interesting questions, and you know you’re asking stuff your audience want to know.
  • Local news gathering. Here’s an interesting example from Harrisonburg, VA. Or even as a source for bigger breaking news.
  • Cynthia McCune talks about microblogging as a ”21st century police scanner”, listing these uses for reporters: keep up with sources, get quick feedback, get referrals, post live updates to sport scores.
  • Breaking news. Anders Brenna at digi.no writes: ”Twitter is both the perfect journalist tool for being first with breaking news, and the best relief from the tyranny of breaking news.” Super-fast publishing of the latest news without risking that the reader won’t come to your site for the full story. You can even send a message and point to it once it’s out.
  • Paul Bradshaw has some advice for anyone wanting to use microblogging to cover a topic. Check out the comments too for a few ideas on good use.
  • Another post on how news makers have to change and use micro-blogging tools.

Do you have more good examples? We’ll collect them and update this list (giving you credit, of course).

Also, here’s some advice on what not to do.


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november 27th, 2008

Are status updates on social media sites a form of microblogging?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Microblogging services like Jaiku or Twitter, which recently passed its 1 billionth tweet (via Media Culpa), are immensely popular, and some even say they’ll completely take over from regular blogs.

But what is the definition of a microblogging service? Does it need to be focused/dedicated to microblogging, or can it be a social media site having a microblogging component? The question arose at SIME, where Andie Nordgren posed a question from the audience: Is Facebook the world’s largest microblogging service?
Net Jacobsson, Director of International Business Development at Facebook, hasn’t thought of status updates as microblogging, and I guess that’s quite understandable as it’s not their focus.

What do you think? Are status updates on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn a form of microblogging? On which services do you actively update your status, and what kind of information do you put there? Give us your comments!


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november 24th, 2008

Jeff Jarvis on the future of news: Investigative journalism will survive

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Speaking about the future of news, don’t miss Jeff Jarvis‘ long post on this topic over at BuzzMachine. Its focus is on local news but there’s general ideas to apply on national/topic news as well. Some great stuff! And I like his focus on community/network driven news.
Jarvis doesn’t believe investigative journalism will suffer. He writes:

The fear I hear constantly is that investigative journalism will be the first form to die. That would be foolish and news organizations will learn that. In a link-and-search economy, you must create unique content with strong value to get attention and audience. Investigations matter more than ever; they will have greater audience and thus business benefit.


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november 20th, 2008

Dan Gillmor's new book – a guide for news consumers

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Dan GillmorWho can we trust in an age when anyone can be a journalist? How do we know? As citizen journalism has taken quite a bit of beef lately, especially after the Steve Jobs supposed heart attack debacle, Dan Gillmor‘s new book project couldn’t come at a better time.
He is writing a book to educate not the citizen journalists, but the readers/viewers/users of news, he revealed at the Blogboat event in Belgium. He thinks readers should not just accept what’s written as the truth. They need to do research.
– That’s exactly what the people who sold their stocks after hearing that Steve Jobs had a heart attack, didn’t do. It was their stupidity to immediately believe that false news. Which makes them responsible as well, and not only the citizen journalist who wrote the article, he said, according to the blog Theicecreamdebate.
He also listed these five principles for news consumers:

  • scepticism
  • judgement
  • research
  • independence
  • recognize persuasion techniques

In a recent interview at DigitalJournal, Dan Gillmor said:
– We’ve all been consuming news in different ways since the Net came along. We are good at deciding what we trust and what we can’t trust. Everyone needs to learn to be skeptical of absolutely everything. That includes the local or national paper or TV broadcast.
– At same time, people need to go outside what they normally read and look for things that challenge their worldviews. They need to learn media techniques, including how the media is used to persuade the public.

Update: I just remembered that Dan Gillmor actually mentioned his new book project when he spoke to a bunch of people at Aftonbladet in early 2007. Here’s a sound clip. Pardon the bad quality.


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november 18th, 2008

Will there be a dark period for journalism?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Will we see the collapse of journalism as papers fail to take the step over from dead wood publishing? Or are we at a dawn of a smarter news industry? Opinions vary, and we take a look at what some are saying right now.

Joi Ito at SIME '08At SIME, Joi Ito expressed concerns that professional journalism journalism may perish.
– It would be very difficult for a blogger to get a military unit to fly them into Sudan to cover that in first-hand. It would also be very difficult when you write a scathing article about corruption in Singapore to fight the libel suit you get from Lee Kuan Yew and try to stay out of jail. Legal protection against libel suits and also heavily funded first-person war journalism, that’s going to be a while before amateurs will be able to deal with that, he said, and continued:
– I think that everywhere where we’re losing the revenues of physical distribution or transaction costs, whether that’s the financial markets affording analysts or whether it’s academic journalism affording peer review, all these professionals that used to be hired to deal with quality are being put out of business because the distribution can’t afford to pay those guys anymore, they’re all suffering from the same thing. I think bloggers and all the amateurs will pick up a bunch of that, but there’s still going to be this gap. I think it’s going to be a while before we get organized enough. And I’m afraid that professional journalism may collapse before we pick up, and there may be a kind of a ”dark period” when we can’t send people to Sudan or we don’t have the ability to fight against the biggotous people that we ought to be going after.

David Sifry at SIME '08David Sifry thinks the future of journalism lies within the blogosphere.
– I think we actually have a responsibility, given the fact that we are all disintermediating these big media companies, to make sure that we can find a way to help make sure that journalism survives.

Joi Ito and David Sifry in a panel debate about blogging and journalism during SIME 2008.

Joakim JardenbergYesterday, Joakim Jardenberg of Mindpark wrote a long blog post describing the steps necessary for a paper distribution-dependent local newspaper to make enough money online to be able to survive without the paper edition, should that be necessary. It’s in Swedish, so I’ll take you through his main points.

His solution has three parts: having enough visitors, knowing/keeping track of visitors and using advanced mechanisms to match them with advertisers. Like Jardenberg says, this is no rocket science and behavioural targeting is nothing new. But it hasn’t been evolved enough, and that’s why Jardenberg’s take is interesting. He gives an example with real figures from local paper Helsingborgs Dagblad, and he’s pretty convincing. They need a 40 percent share of the money spent on local advertising in their area to make it.
Though the solution can be explained in a few simple steps, those are not easy steps to take, and Jardenberg is aware of it. He lists these obstacles (my translation):

  • Technology isn’t quite mature enough. But with baby steps in the right directions we’ll make it in time.
  • Local sites might lose their relevance. Without an audience the revenue model collapses.
  • We might not have the stamina. This won’t pay off tomorrow. Count on 5-10 years to reach those 40% in a healthy way.
  • Our sales force is immature, we still sell paper ads online. Our main advantage, our local sales people, are also those who need to change the most.

Joakim Jardenberg's slide on HD's reach
A slide in a presentation by Joakim Jardenberg about the decline in Helsingborg Dagblad’s reach.

Jardenberg goes into more detail, and has interesting ideas about data collection and transparency, so if you’re interested, here’s a rough translation of the text through Google Translate. On the whole, he is optimistic about the future of journalism.

The death of local relevance, as mentioned by Jardenberg above, is one of two threats addressed by Jonathan Kay in a blog post at Canada’s National Post’s Comment section’s blog, Full Comment. Kay talks about saving the print media, but this could well be applied to local journalism on the whole.
Kay writes:

The breakdown of Canadians’ sense of community has also contributed to newspapers’ challenges. Slogging through stories about the people who share your city, your province or your country makes sense only if you feel a sense of emotional investment in your neighbours. But in a globalized age, an increasing share of Canadians don’t feel that way. As office-bound yuppies, they commune with their distant college-era friends using Facebook or email, but don’t know the names of the people they pass on their street.

Kay’s other point is the death of spare time. If people don’t have time to read, journalism is in trouble. Print even more so. The three types of print media that will survive are, according to Kay:

(1) Business-oriented media that cater to older, more affluent readers of the type who can justify the expense of long-form news consumption (in both time and money) as a work activity.

(2) Premium publications that cater to the ideologically involved and intellectually upscale

(3) The hyperlocal.

As Kay is talking about the survival of print, I am a bit surprised about his third point. I think hyperlocal is one of the areas where the web can bring so much more than a print product, as it’s all about communication and round the clock updates.
But then, hyperlocal sites are struggling. When Gitta and I talked to Joi Ito a few days ago, he said hyperlocal is failing because local businesses aren’t mature enough online. I think that’s a valid point, and I believe that once they mature and more and more people expect to find hyperlocal news online, this is a very interesting area.

My own take is that journalism will survive and come out stronger and better through this media shift, though it will take a few years of struggle. And it may not look exactly like it does today at the end of it. Which is probably a good thing.

Update: There’s a Swedish version of this text availble at Mindpark where we were invited to guest blog.


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november 16th, 2008

Tomas and Kristin podcasting What's Next

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

If you’re a Swede and interested in what’s happening on the web and in new media, I’m sure you can’t have missed the podcast What’s Next. With a background in radio journalism, hosts Tomas Wennström and Kristin Heinonen are doing a great job keeping us updated about news in this field. They are also very creative in other ways. For instance check out this presentation of their suggestion as to how Swedish paper Sydsvenska Dagbladet could improve their website.

During SIME, the What’s Next duo did several recordings, and Citizen Media Watch filmed this clip from a session last Wednesday. Apart from Tomas and Kristin, the panel consists of Björn Falkevik, Anton Johansson and Fredrik Wass.

For those of you who don’t understand Swedish, you can see this as an example of how you can make a great podcast production with very simple means.


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november 15th, 2008

Mia Rose: Portray yourself with your true colours

Posted by Gitta Wilen

Mia Rose, interviewed by Citizen Media WatchMia Rose is a YouTube-made star, a true child of the new music industry. She’s the most subscribed to and most viewed artist in Great Britain on YouTube, and her story started with a cheap camera and some great talent.

Urged on by her friends, she started to upload video clips of herself. People noticed her, and pretty soon the clips were viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Today she’s got a record deal and is travelling the world. And she still uses YouTube for reaching out to her supporters.
– It’s so different, so innovative to be able to use your camera to talk to the fans, she tells Citizen Media Watch as we meet her in Stockholm where she’s just performed at SIME.

We thought it would be interesting to hear what advice she has for others wanting to build a career through self-publication in citizen media.
– Be very honest about yourself. Portray yourself with your true colours, so that in a few years time people don’t say ”wait a second, in the beginning you were like this, and now you’re like this”. Enjoy what you’re doing. Because if you don’t enjoy it, they won’t enjoy it, she says.
When recording her videos Mia Rose thinks about what she would like her idol to say, if she had one.
– I put myself in the position of the people watching me. If I had an idol, that’s how I’d like her to interact with me.

We asked if house concerts – having fans invite you to their living room and bring other fans over – which is something that for instance Vienna Teng has done quite a bit of, might not be something for Mia Rose. A YouTube star should be close to her audience in real life too. And sure enough, she’s planning something similar.
– I was presented with the Mia Rose strategy, it’s the strategy that I’m gonna adhere to. It’s awesome, you’re in for a lot of really exciting stuff. Inside it we have a plan to do a Mia Rose lounge thing, something more personal, not a lot of fans. They’ll just chill out on pillows and watch. It’s gonna be really cool.
The lounge gigs will also appear on the web, in a new website that Mia’s management is planning. There you’ll find everything related to her in one space.

/Gitta & Lotta

Here’s the full nine minute interview. It also contains bits about her future plans, and – she’s a geek!


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november 14th, 2008

SIME 2008 in pictures

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Here’s our Flickr set for SIME 2008. It’s 125 photos, and they’re all licensed with Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial, so bloggers are welcome to use them. Just remember to credit us with a link.

Among other things today, we met with YouTube star Mia Rose. Check back for the video clip tomorrow.



november 13th, 2008

Joi Ito: Don't sign bad licenses

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Joi Ito at SIME'08

Citizen Media Watch met with blogging veteran, super-entrepreneur and CEO of Creative Commons Joi Ito during the SIME conference in Stockholm. He told us about how he (possibly) made the New York Times change their contract for freelance material, and he sent a message to anyone wanting to make it as a semi-pro or pro journalist or photographer.

Joi ItoMainstream media is struggling with how to use photos with Creative Commons licensing. The reason is they’re not used to attribution models, but rather to pay the photographer and get the exclusive rights for the photo, says Joi Ito.
But they are starting to learn.
– They’re realising that atleast for certain situations and certain people it’s impossible to get a photograph in time. They’re realising it’s a resource. They’re starting to learn the rules, says Joi Ito, who saw a lot of abuse of the license in the early days.

He reveals that it took him three years of refusing to sign the New York Times’s standard contract after having written an article for them before they gave in – and actually changed it for everyone. At first they simply wanted the exclusive rights, period. Now the contract says they get the exclusives for one month, then you can re-use it in any way you want.
– But they changed. It took me three years of saying no no no. You just have to keep working. Don’t sign bad licenses, advices Joi Ito.

This is part of a longer interview also addressing the need for new business models, why hyperlocal journalism is failing and the two ways for photographers to make money. We’ve made the full-length uncut interview available on our blip.tv account. It is licensed under a creative commons license.

A big thanks to Joakim Jardenberg who pinpointed one of the questions for Mr Ito. And to Björn Falkevik for the filming/camera crash-course.

/Lotta & Gitta

Joi Ito at SIME'08


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november 11th, 2008

SIME preparations

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

This week it’s the yearly SIME (Scandinavian Interactive Media Event) conference here in Stockholm. Previous years I’ve found it remarkable that a conference about ”digital opportunities, technology, communication and entrepreneurship” haven’t given much thought to the audience’s want to communicate and use these ”digital opportunities” during the conference itself (no or badly working wifi, no backchannels, no bloggers invited etc). This year there seems to be a change of attitude. Citizen Media Watch is one of 14 invited bloggers who have been given Blogger Press Passes to the event. Many thanks!

This means that we’ll be covering SIME for two days – Wednesday and Thursday this week. We’ll be bambusing, taking photos, possibly live blogging, definitely microblogging, and also making a few video interviews that will appear on our blip.tv channel a bit later on.

Today Gitta and I met to plan our SIME coverage. Here’s what some of it looked like.


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