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Is Vine useful for journalists? A round-up of reactions to the launch Twitter’s micro-video app

January 28th, 2013 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Social media and blogging

vine-twitter

Twitter’s latest expansion into social media arrived last Thursday in the form of micro-video sharing app Vine, allowing users to create and upload six-second videos to be shared and commented on.

Teething problems aside, users have been creating stop animations and how-to guides alongside sport round-ups and animal GIFs.

But could Vine become a serious journalistic resource? Or will it simply be another addition to a long line of internet distractions with a few diamonds in the rough? Commentators have been giving their opinions on the matter.

Scott Klemmer, co-director of the Human-Computer Interaction Group at Stanford University told Wired that, based on the enthusiasm for Twitter, the results will be positive from a creative point of view and “people are going to do really cool things”.

One of the things we know about creativity is that constraints are essential for getting people to do creative stuff. If you come up with the right constraints that’s a benefit, not a drawback. And nobody knows that better than Twitter, where their 140-character constraint really created a whole new medium in a lot of ways.

UX expert and blogger Martin Belam dismisses those who don’t “see a purpose” in Vine, insisting that there is as much fun to be had in the process of creation as in browsing the product.

I do rather wonder, if you are looking at a bunch of random video clips that weren’t directly shared with you, and they don’t meet your content expectations, whether the problem might be your expectations, not the service?

Poynter recognises the potential for growth in that videos have more potential for realism and engagement, drawing people closer to the story or news event being reported, as Jeff Sonderman writes.

Think of the impact Twitter has made so far on real-time reporting, making everyone, everywhere, a potential instant eyewitness who can share text or a photo with the world. Now think of how that effect is amplified when the public can easily start sharing videos of the same events.

At Sonderman points out, it also means it is much harder to for videos to be faked, especially when it is considered that Vine is only available to smart devices and videos can only be uploaded straight to the server, rather than saved remotely and tampered with.

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How important are ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons to news publishers?

 

A conversation was sparked on the effect of social media sharing buttons by the designer Oliver Reichenstein on his blog informationArchitects. In the post titled Sweep the Sleaze he writes:

But do these buttons work? It’s hard to say. What we know for sure is that these magic buttons promote their own brands — and that they tend to make you look a little desperate. Not too desperate, just a little bit.

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If you provide excellent content, social media users will take the time to read and talk about it in their networks. That’s what you really want. You don’t want a cheap thumbs up, you want your readers to talk about your content with their own voice.

The Tweet and Like buttons, followed by their lesser rivals Google’s +1 and LinkedIn share buttons are now ubiquitous on news websites. Visitors to the Huffington Post in January 2008 would have been given the option to share an article via Digg, Reddit and Delicious. Now they are given up to 20 ways to share an article just via Facebook alone. Users are certainly being bombarded by myriad sharing options, they are not always that pretty and Reichenstein is approaching the issue as a minimalist designer.

But is Reichenstein right?

Joshua Benton at Nieman Journalism Lab did a little digging into the effectiveness of the Tweet button for a variety of news publishers. Using a Ruby script written by Luigi Montanez , Benton analysed the last 1000 tweets from 37 news sites to find the percentage of tweets emanating from the site’s Tweet button.

The analysis comes with a few caveats so it’s well worth reading the full article but the take-away is that people are using the Tweet button. Of the news sites analysed most had 15 to 30 per cent of their Twitter shares come via their Tweet buttons. Importantly, they act as a starting point to get content onto Twitter and can lead to further retweets or modified retweets.

Facebook Likes are a different story. They are far less visible on another user’s news feeds, especially after Facebook changed the amount of output its Social News feed spits out.

At least one publisher has found positives to removing the Facebook Like button from their site, claiming it increased referrals from Facebook:

Jeff Sonderman writing at Poynter hypothesises there is a strange tension created by having a sharing button on news articles:

One argument in favor of sharing buttons is the psychological phenomenon of “social proof,” where a person entering a new environment tends to conform to the behavior demonstrated by others. How does that apply? The tally of previous shares on a given article could offer social proof to the next reader that it is indeed worth reading and sharing — “just look at all these other people who already have!”

But in this case, social proof is not the only force at work. We also know that many people share content because it makes them look smart and well-informed. Part of that is being among the first to have shared it, and thus not sharing something that’s already well-circulated. In this way, a sharing button could limit the potential spread of your best content.

These buttons are being used but news publishers need to think about how they are being used and how engaged the users of them are. Sonderman thinks Reichenstein gets close to the mark when he states:

If you’re unknown, social media buttons make you look like a dog waiting for the crumbs from the table … That button that says “2 retweets” will be read as: “This is not so great, but please read it anyway? Please?”

If you’re known and your text is not that great the sleaze buttons can look greedy and unfair (yes, people are jealous). “1280 retweets and you want more?—Meh, I think you got enough attention for this piece of junk.”

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#GEN2012: Swiss news start-up on why it ‘forced’ editors to join Twitter

May 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

The blogs editor of a new Swiss weekly newspaper and website that required all of its senior staff to join Twitter says the move has helped them better understand the challenges of multi-platform publishing and engage with readers.

Tageswoche launched in October – and had 3,000 people buying a subscription “before they even knew what it was about”, David Bauer told the News World Summit in Paris today.

Reflecting on the lessons learnt from the launch, Bauer said getting journalists to be truly platform-neutral was something of a challenge at first:

It’s difficult to get into journalists’ minds that they’re working on a story without knowing where it’s going to be published. Up until recently it wasn’t common in Switzerland for journalists to be on Twitter. We forced all our editors to join Twitter – it teaches you about pace, about interaction, about information flows, about making mistakes and being open about them.

The one thing that surprised me and astonished me the most was the great quality of user content. We required everyone to sign up to post a comment, keeping out the trolls. We actively and prominently featured good reader comments, thus setting a bar. Our editors actively engage in discussions about their own articles, be it on Facebook, Twitter or our website.

He spoke about the importance of apps and being seen on mobile:

We had to learn the hard way. We didn’t have a native app – we just had a website that was optimised for mobile devices. But what happened was people went to the App Store, didn’t find us and concluded that it didn’t exist.

Story selection – and what works best online – was also an interesting discovery:

A lot of people told us that we need to have more news on our website but when we look at what articles people read and share the most it’s when we go beyond news, comment on news, add background information and explain the news. We curate a lot, send people away, and have them come back to have the news explained by us.

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Journalist @brianwhelanhack’s rental dispute: As it happened on Twitter

The Storify below outlines the story so far after journalist Brian Whelan, who it’s understood helped break the news over the weekend that the government was considering a missile site on the roof of his apartment building to protect the Olympics, tweeted that he was being “forced” to leave his apartment. His landlord has said she has served notice because of a disagreement relating to the renewal of the tenancy, and that the decision was not related to the missile situation in any way.

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Tweetbot partners with Storify to allow Twitter conversation sharing

Tweetbot, a Twitter client app for iOS and a previous Journalism.co.uk app of the week, has added Storify integration.

Users of the iPhone and iPad Tweetbot app can now easily Storify a conversation they spot on Twitter.

There is no need to move away from Tweetbot to Storify, a tool to allow the curation of social media content, all is done with a swipe and three taps within the app.

Just swipe right on a tweet that is part of a conversation, tweet the conversation and it is automatically Storified.

If you don’t have a Storify account one will be created.

The 2.3 update was released yesterday. Those with the app can update, new users can download from the App Store for £1.99.

Here is a Storify explaining how it works.

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The Twitter reaction to France’s ban on discussing predicted presidential results

April 23rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Politics, Social media and blogging

By Guillaume Paumier on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

“The results were like the elephant in the room” – that’s what one journalist told Journalism.co.uk after users were said to have taken to Twitter to try and get around a ban on the discussion of predicted results in the French presidential election.

The law, which dates from 1977, bans the reporting of results, projections and exit polls on the day before and day of the election until the closure of the last polling stations.

The ban will also apply to the run-off between Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande on Sunday 6 May and is expected to remain in place, after Jean-Francois Pillon, the head of France’s polling commission, reportedly said he would call on state prosecutors to bring charges against media organisations and individuals who had allegedly defied the ban.

The last polling stations closed at 8pm on Sunday, but before this deadline the hashtag #radiolondres, a reference to resistance broadcasts made in the Second World War, was being used to discuss the projected results, with the candidates being given code-names to try and circumvent the ban.

Nicola Hebden, a freelance journalist covering the election, told Journalism.co.uk the events highlighted the issue of attempting to ban information spreading on Twitter:

While we were broadcasting, the results were like the elephant in the room – we all knew them – the news team, the viewers – but we weren’t allowed to talk about them on air.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Muck Rack

Tool of the week: Muck Rack

What is it? A site that aggregates Twitter and social media feeds for thousands of professional journalists.

How is it of use to journalists? Journalists often break or share vital information first through social media. Muck Rack allows you to monitor trending topics among journalists in real-time. Its aim, according to Muck Rack’s creators, is to deliver “tomorrow’s newspaper to you today”.

Launched in 2009, Muck Rack now draws content from thousands of journalists who use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sources to break news on a daily basis.

Built around a central directory of verified professionals, Muck Rack now boasts an extensive directory of top journalists from around the world which can be searched by name, publication or even beat.

Professionals only need a valid Twitter account to apply for verification, although the process is heavily vetted to ensure certain standards are met such as relevance of tweets or posts and consistent activity.

The site also emails out a daily analysis of what journalists are saying called the Muck Rack Daily, which is pored over by its editorial team.

Muck Rack dovetails well with previous Journalism.co.uk tool of the week Press Pass, which organises journalists by beat, media outlet or region.

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BBC’s sports editor on social media and the Olympics: ‘There’s an illusion around Twitter’

Image copyright Populou

Speaking at the Polis International Journalism conference today, BBC sports editor David Bond discussed as part of a panel the expected impact of social media on this year’s Olympic games, with 26,000 accredited journalists all eager to cover the sporting event across media platforms.

I caught up with David after the panel discussion to find out more about how he feels social media will impact sports journalism this year, and the considerations he is taking to ensure information from the platform is used responsibly.

Twitter has just changed everything. It wasn’t around in Beijing, maybe just starting off, but it wasn’t at the level it’s at now in terms of the amount of people who use it, the personalities who use it.

Currently David says he largely uses Twitter as a news source, and highlights the risks journalists will need to consider when using information from social media platforms, during the Olympics and more generally.

I think it comes with a lot of risks and dangers, you have to approach it like any piece of information.

On Twitter because it’s there and people see it, it’s got that broadcast quality and you assume, in most cases wrongly, it has reliability.

We’re still trying to get our heads around it.

He added that when it comes to using the platform to see the interactions of athletes competing in the games there are further considerations to be made by sports journalists.

A lot of it is done to plug sponsors and we have to be careful of are they really the people they say they are … that’s less of an issue now.

But it is going to be in many cases the way we find out about stories involving athletes as that’s the way they’re communicating now. Just look at football.

But he does have some concerns:

The worry for me is that increasingly we’re getting restricted on what we can ask people, direct contact with people is becoming more and more limited.

That’s quite alarming for me, the more barriers there are between two people having a conversation, having unfettered access, that just restricts the freedom of the media.

There’s an illusion around Twitter, I think, that it is all free information and it’s all moving incredibly fast, which it is – but I think there’s a risk of distortion around the quality of the information and there’s a lot of opportunity for people to put barriers in the way.

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Digital news editor @fieldproducer leaving Sky News

Sky News’s digital news editor Neal Mann, known to 43,000 people on Twitter as @fieldproducer, has announced he has decided to leave the broadcaster.

Mann announced on Twitter on Friday night:

Another Sky colleague, former social media correspondent Ruth Barnett, is also leaving to become head of communications for Android app producer SwiftKey. She wrote on Friday:

Sky News introduced new guidelines for journalists about the use of Twitter last month, including the line: “Do not retweet information posted by other journalists or people on Twitter. Such information could be wrong and has not been through the Sky News editorial process.”

Reuters’ Anthony de Rosa commented at the time:

These new rules will hamstring Neal and make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to continue to do what he did to garner so much appreciation from people like me. I suspect Sky will come to their senses and realize the error of their ways. If not, they’re going to lose one of their best ambassadors in Neal, and I would suspect many people working at Sky may wonder if they’re working for an organization that is writing policies that will drive them into obsolescence.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Press Pass, to search for journalists on Twitter

Tool of the week: Press Pass

What is it? A new tool to allow you to search for journalists on Twitter

How is it of use to journalists? Press Pass allows you to search for journalists on Twitter by “beat, media outlet or region”.

It is not an exhaustive list as yet. For example, there are 400 New York Times journalists active on Twitter, but only 275 listed on Press Pass at the last check.

Journalists can asked to be added by tweeting to say they report on a beat, work for a title or cover a region.

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