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#Tip of the day for journalists: Read Storyful’s new ebook on social newsgathering

January 25th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging
Image by IsaacMao on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by IsaacMao on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Social news agency Storyful has published an ebook on social newsgathering.

It has been edited by Claire Wardle and includes articles previously posted on the Storyful blog.

The ebook is in PDF format and is free, allowing you to learn things such as how to spot a fake or hoax image, how to verify content from social media, and how and why your should use Twitter’s own version of TweetDeck.

The Storyful blog has become one of our favourite tips sites, with practical advice shared by working journalists on how to get the most out of social newsgathering. Save this PDF to your tablet or phone and your next train journey will be an educational one.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link.

Hat tip: Mark Little

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London riots: Five ways journalists used online tools

Since riots started in London on Saturday, 6 August, journalists – and many non-journalists, who may or may not think of themselves as citizen reporters – have been using a variety of online tools to tell the story of the riots and subsequent cleanup operation.

Here are five examples:

1. Maps

James Cridland, who is managing director of Media UK, created a Google Map – which has had more than 25,000 views.

Writing on his blog (which is well worth a read), Cridland explains how and why he verified the locations of riots before manually adding reports of unrest to his map one by one.

I realised that, in order for this map to be useful, every entry needed to be verified, and verifiable for others, too. For every report, I searched Google News, Twitter, and major news sites to try and establish some sort of verification. My criteria was that something had to be reported by an established news organisation (BBC, Sky, local newspapers) or by multiple people on Twitter in different ways.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, he explained there was much rumour and many unsubstantiated reports on Twitter, particularly about Manchester where police responded by repeatedly announcing they had not had reports of copycat riots.

A lot of people don’t know how to check and verify. It just shows that the editor’s job is still a very safe one.

Hannah Waldram, who is community co-ordinator at the Guardian, “used Yahoo Pipes, co-location community tools and Google Maps to create a map showing tweets generated from postcode areas in London during the riots”. A post on the OUseful blog explains exactly how this is done.

Waldram told Journalism.co.uk how the map she created last night works:

The map picks up on geotagged tweets using the #Londonriots hashtag in a five km radium around four post code areas in London where reports of rioting were coming in.

It effectively gives a snapshot of tweets coming from a certain area at a certain time – some of the tweets from people at home watching the news and some appearing to be eyewitness reports of the action unfolding.

2. Video

Between gripping live reporting on Sky News, reporter Mark Stone uploaded footage from riots in Clapham to YouTube (which seems to have inspired a Facebook campaign to make him prime minister).

3. Blogs

Tumblr has been used to report the Birmingham riots, including photos and a statement from West Midlands Police with the ‘ask a question’ function being put to hugely effective use.

4. Curation tools

Curation tools such as Storify, used to great effect here by Joseph Stashko to report on Lewisham; Storyful, used here to tell the story of the cleanup; Bundlr used here to report the Birmingham riots, and Chirpstory, used here to show tweets on the unravelling Tottenham riots, have been used to curate photos, tweets, maps and videos.

5. Timelines

Channel 4 News has this (Flash) timeline, clearly showing when the riots were first reported and how unrest spread. Free tools such as Dipity and Google Fusion Tables (see our how to: use Google Fusion Tables guide) can be used to create linear (rather than mapped) timelines.

If you have seen any impressive interactive and innovative coverage of the riots please add a link to the comments below.

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#bbcsms: Risking failure – Mainstream media v start-ups

One of the afternoon panels at the BBC’s Social Media Summit today asked the question: Can mainstream media compete with start-ups in social media innovation?

The panel featured Mark Little of Storyful, which provides a platform for those in the centre of the action to build a story and have it published, and Mark Rock of Audioboo, which enables the recording and uploaded of audio which can then be widely shared and published.

There overall message was that the difference between mainstream media and start-ups is the ability to fail and as a result mainstream media is still in the “electrical age” while start-ups have stepped into the digital.

The BBC itself came in for some criticism. Rock said Audioboo was not allowed to be embedded on BBC website, which he called”ludicrous”.

Individuals are the ones pushing innovation. At some point you will lose them. I don’t think you’ve got the right mindset.

Audioboo

“The BBC should be leading innovation in the UK and it’s not,” he later said. Little added that on this side of the Atlantic he feels there is a different attitude to innovation.

I get the sense that if some test product comes out that doesn’t work it’s destined for the bin. We need to try things all the time.

The other issue he added, is the focus on the word “compete”. It is about collaboration instead, he said, with both sides having valuable lessons to learn from the other.

We’ve worked with YouTube and US organisations and learnt a lot about verification and discovery. I don’t care who’s first to break news, it’s the opposite of what it’s all about, collaboration. On social media you need to learn and move forward. I’m still a little disappointed we’re being asked to choose between gurus … For us it is about seeing the problem with mainstream media and finding the solution.

Experimentation is on the cards at the New York Times, fellow panelist Liz Heron from the New York Times said.

We don’t really have any social media guidelines – use common sense and just don’t be stupid. We don’t want to scare people into not using social media to it’s full potential.

Part of the Times’ focus in the near future in this area is to bring social media into the high-impact projects the newsroom is working on, such as it did in the run-up to the Oscars.

New York Times awards season

By collaborating with the Times’ developers it enabled users to personalise the story by voting for their favourites and sharing that information with their ‘friends’ using Facebook.

Facebook will give you a lot of info, so we were able to show what kind of person was going in for the Kings Speech, for example, so got some interesting visualisations. In a way we therefore used a form of gamification to engage users. We want to do more to build platforms around our journalism in this way and allow our content to not only  get distributed further but get some interesting information back on our key readers from it.

She added that Facebook, having “cracked the code” of Twitter, was now the focus for experimentation and innovation.

Our journalists have not figured out how to interact with it just yet. We’re working to bring Facebook journalism onto the main page.

Twitter is not being ignored though, with the New York Times’ “ciborg” account having its autofeed turned off next week as an experiment to take the Times’ participation on the platform “to the next level”.

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