Twitters Impact on Media and Journalism – The Insight Exchange

The Insight Exchange is a series of monthly topic driven lunches that offers executives a chance to gain valuable information in a short period of time while networking with like minded people. Yesterday I attended their discussion forum : “Twitter’s Impact on Media & Journalism”

Twitters Impact on Media and Journalism - The Insight Exchange

Overall I think Beth, Ross and Jess organized the event well and the general vibe from attendees was that it was well worth turning up to for quality content at a fair price including free wifi, a decent buffet lunch & dessert at the Radisson hotel.

Live Coverage of Conversation

Topics Discussed

This was updated after the event with some notes taken from the comments in the Live Coverage of Conversation.

  • An audience poll shows Twitter is used mostly to connect with friends/colleagues… Followed by “used for news”
  • 59% of #timj audience feel twitter *is* a viable source of news
  • An audience member said that there were appx 18 million twitterers globally – freelance journalist Brad Howarth questioned that number saying: “how many of those 18 million Twitters have posted in the last month? And is the current growth sustainable?”
  • Brad said his own opinion is Twitter will improve journalism, in the same way the telephone, fax and email did. It will not harm or replace it.
  • Ross Dawson asked Is social media allowing us to integrate our lives and personalities, or will multiple accounts fragment who we are?
  • Commenting from afar in Queensland, virtual onlooker Edward Harran told me : “I am really curious about the changing context/ambiguity of what a journalist actually is. If we all have broadcast reach to niche audiences … what remains? Intentions of journalist vs passionate blogger changes context of the news source – one paid, one identity”
  • Mark Pesce began by displaying a Bob Woodward quote ““Social media? It’s noise. Twitter? Facebook? It’s all a diversion. Good reporting is always going to be about hard work; about waking up every morning with the thought: What are the bastards hiding today?” – but is just a diversion? could the same be said about many of today’s newspapers which are increasingly covering banal shallow news?
  • Pesce also predicted that Twitterlike services will kill Wire services like AAP etc. Info on Twitter isn’t necessarily better but its raw and twitter sources are often present when an important news event occurs
  • Newspapers are relying more on wire services. They are building their houses on sand, when the wire services get supplanted by citizen journalists reporting on their local events where will newspapers be then after sacking most of their journos?
  • Twitter is already an interactive backchannel for TV Programs like the ABC’s New Inventors. Hash tags have helped promote and prolong the converstaion in real time
  • I commented that : “the future of journalism could = people like me sitting with my Kogan Netbook, HTC Dream & HTC Magic reporting on the #timj event. No editor, no publisher – information supplied straight to audience”
  • Pesce says Twitter is biased, partial and incomplete but the richness of content and it’s network connections results in its revolutionising how news events break and spread
  • ZDNET editor Renai Lemay attempted to defend the honour of ‘noble lady’ journalism beset by the “evil assault of the PR industry”, falling revenues and closing newspapers
  • Renai says Twitter is not a threat to journalists bu an opportunity. It represents a way to get back to grassroots of sourcing news.
  • Twitter allows journalists to connect with readers in a very personal way. Unlike the slightly tweaked media release type of journalism which is unfortunately common today.
  • Renai says hyper local journalism is a great example of an opportunity waiting to be grasped in Australia
  • Paul Colgan said the pace of change in journalism and associated web technologies is frantic. Youtube, Facebook etc have made sharing so easy and are ubiquitous – CNN got rightly slammed for not being on the ball regarding the #iranelection, but how can they verify info from sources like Twitter?
  • Colgan says journalists should make friends with developers in their organizations to make use of API’s to incoproate twitter , flickr and other tools into their workflow
  • Corrie from Espresso Comms says Twitter is a great place for PR’s to hang around to help connect journos with info about their clients products/services
  • Corrie sees Government as the next big user of Twitter PR (Mosman Council already doing this really well)
  • Victoria Sennitt asked are individual journalists becoming brands rather than publications? Ross Dawson replied saying Twitter is making individual journalist brands more important – becoming known for who they are as ppl makes their writing more trusted

Consumers today are demanding news as it happens and Twitter is quickly becoming that source of instant information.

But is Twitter Journalism? And how is this new phenomenon affecting the way traditional media providers capture and deliver the news?

With the overlapping of personal and professional lives on Twitter, how does this impact trust and objectivity with regards to journalism? Is journalism becoming opinion based? How does this impact facts and reporting?

Twitter transforming breaking news: Is hyper-locality the next wave of journalism? Who will be responsible for delivering national news? Discuss how crowdsourcing will affect breaking news and possibly change journalism.

How is Twitter impacting “content” of journalism? Are journalist’s reputations at risk if personal opinions are expressed? What about personal safety?

Twitter and the business of media and journalism. Discuss how it’s helping/hindering the business of news/media and distribution. From fact checking to marketing to distribution to communication amongst all involved.

Further Information About Twitters Impact on Media and Journalism

The first thing #timj attendees should do after the event is read Julie Posetti’s excellent series about Twitter & Journalism at the PBS Mediashift website

Then they should watch Clay Shirky’s recent TED Talk about the new social media landscape where we are all both consumers and producers (as he says, it’s like if you buy a book and they throw in a printing press for free).

He talks about the recent earthquake in China, reported by ordinary Chinese citizens over social media, as it happened. Using Twitter, photo-sharing sites and email, news came pouring out of China. Donation sites sprang up, activism cropped up around the destroyed elementary schools. And then China shut it down.

But China’s censorship system depends on a top-down approach to media. And social media breaks that model. As China learned this week, to censor tweets and photos, you need to block Twitter and Flickr.

A story from the Obama campaign (which Shirky calls one of the most innovative uses of social media ever). During the campaign, Senator Obama announced that he would be changing his vote on FISA. A group formed on his own campaign website, MyBO.com, called “President Obama, Please Get FISA Right.”

The group grew larger and more vocal. Obama engaged with the group, explained his vote. The group members still weren’t happy – but then they realized that, though they had nearly taken over Obama’s campaign site, nobody had ever tried to hide the group, to delete it, to take it off the site – the role of MyBO.com was to convene their supporters, but not to control their supporters

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