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BBC Editors’ Blog: Guidance on breaking news and Twitter

February 8th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Online Journalism

After Sky News’s crackdown on Twitter use – and specifically retweeting non-Sky journalists – was revealed last night, it’s the BBC’s turn to clarify its position.

In a post on the BBC editors’ blog today, social media editor Chris Hamilton says the corporation has distributed some revised breaking news guidance to correspondents, reporters and producers.

It says that, when they have some breaking news, an exclusive or any kind of urgent update on a story, they must get written copy into our newsroom system as quickly as possible, so that it can be seen and shared by everyone – both the news desks which deploy our staff and resources (like TV trucks) as well as television, radio and online production teams.

We’ve been clear that our first priority remains ensuring that important information reaches BBC colleagues, and thus all our audiences, as quickly as possible – and certainly not after it reaches Twitter.

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Sky News Twitter restrictions – where do you stand?

February 8th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

It started with a tweet from BBC News channel controller Kevin Bakhurst

The guidelines, seen by the Guardian, state:

Guardian reporter Josh Halliday said last night:

Sky News battening down hatches on this one. Told new guidelines are non-negotiable – how long will they last??

A hashtag campaign soon got under way to #savefieldproducer – Sky’s popular digital news editor Neal Mann, who has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter.

He replied:

Been a busy day, for those asking me questions about social media policy,I can’t really answer because I didn’t take part in the discussions

In a Reuters piece headlined “Sky News longs for Victorian internet, applies dark age social policy”, Anthony de Rosa writes:

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.

The FT’s Ben Fenton says competitors are likely to benefit:

Just as you never get good search-engine optimisation if you don’t link to outside sites, so anyone who steadfastly refuses to be anything but a puff factory for their own brand will gradually loses friends.

This step will also be likely to offer a competitive advantage to other news sources, such as ITV News or the BBC, enlightened enough to see beyond the blinkers of brand identity.

The move, does, however have some supporters. Sunny Hundal, on the Liberal Conspiracy blog, writes:

The ban on RTs makes sense if you acknowledge their worry that disputed links or info by their journalists could reflect on Sky News itself.

Is it any surprise editors at Sky News feel that a RT not meant as an endorsement could be interpreted in that way anyway? After all, people still attack me for publishing editorials on LC even if I disagree with those views. Once a Twitter mob gets going it’s very difficult to calm it down.

Of course this also implies Sky News editors don’t want to give their own journalists too much leeway in using their judgement. But all the broadcasters have hefty rule books for journalists (I expect the BBC will follow Sky), so this isn’t that surprising.

And Fleet Street Blues says the new policy has some logic to it:

It makes no sense for Sky News to pay journalists to break stories through another medium. It makes no sense for them to pay journalists to amass personal social media followings by promoting rival news outlets. And it makes no sense for them to pay journalists to report through a medium outside its own editorial controls.

Sky News said in a statement last night:

Sky News has the same editorial procedures across all their platforms including social media to ensure the news we report is accurate.

Rupert Murdoch replied this morning:

I have nothing to do with Sky NewsWhat do you make of the new policy? Is it enforceable? What effect might it have on Sky’s reputation?

Gabrielle Laine Peters has put together an excellent Storify of tweets and opinion around the Sky directive. Here is her collated selection called Sky News new social media guidelines get Twitter buzzing.

Elana Zak has also used Storify to collage reactions.

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Jon Snow’s Cudlipp lecture: ‘Twitter leads the information thirsty to water’

January 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism

Toni Knevitt, London College of Communication

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow gave the annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture last night, in which he gave a powerful speech on what he views as the advent of “journalism’s golden age”.

Snow has published the full version of his speech on his Snowblog, but here are some highlights from the lecture.

Much of his speech discussed how new technology and real-time news across platforms has an impact on the work of journalists:

Contrast therefore my first reporting from Uganda in 1976 and my most recent foreign assignment in 2011.

That first report on the ground in Uganda dealt with the horror of Amin, it was graphic, and because I was not constrained by immediate “live” deadlines and the rest, I had time to hang about to try to grab an interview with the tyrant: that’s the upside. But I had little mechanism for developing any sense of how the story connected with the outside world – the UN, Westminster and the rest.

… Contrast that with my last major foreign assignment in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where I tweeted, blogged, reported, fed the bird, and then anchored that night’s Channel 4 News live from just outside the Square. Mind you, with the pressures of time, some of the fun has gone out of it all.

For journalists, he said, the “liberation” of the media gives way to a new “golden age of journalism”:

We are in the age of answer back, better still we are in the age in which “we the people” have their greatest opportunity ever to influence the information agenda … But above all we are in the age of more. More potential to get it right, to get it fast, to get it in depth. We have that illusive entity “the level playing field”, we can compete on equal terms and yet be the best.

He also passed comment on some of the biggest issues facing the news industry today, from regulation to the phone hacking scandal:

I think it is absolutely right that there is a regulator that people can go to. Who are we to be above the opportunity for people to review what we’ve done? Furthermore I do not want to find my own editors somewhere in the mix. I want an objective regulator.

… Of course, papers and TV are entirely different beasts, and they work in entirely different ways, but I see no reason why print journalism wouldn’t benefit from a credible regulator in the same way TV has.

And not forgetting the Leveson inquiry, which is currently looking at the culture and ethics of the press:

Leveson should recommend many of the people and institutions that have been before him find a way of allowing their staff to get stuck into the real world, it will vastly improve and deepen their journalism. We journalists are not a breed a part – we must be of the world we report. The hacking scandal reveals an echelon of hacks who removed themselves from the world in which the rest of us live – they took some weird pleasure in urinating on our world.

But finally, he called for journalists to be given more time and space wherever possible:

The speed and pace of what all of us is doing is starving, television journalists in particular, of the opportunity to develop the stature and presence of our forebears.

These were people who had days in which to prepare their stories, dominated a tiny handful of channels, and became iconic figures in the medium. It is much, much harder for journalists today to ascend the same ladder and preside with their kind of authority and we need to afford talent the time, the space and the working experience to develop the authority that our medium depends upon.

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Tool of the week for journalists – Formulists (use it before it disappears)

Tool of the week: Formulists

What is it? A tool to create smart Twitter lists (and more).

How is it of use to journalists? Formulists is a fantastic tool to create Twitter lists. Simply sign in with your Twitter account, search for a keyword such as “journalist” and Formulists will create a Twitter list of all the people you follow with the word “journalist” in their profile. Formulists found that 135 people I follow include the word journalist in their profile, for example. Here is the Twitter list.

But be warned: Formulists is shutting down. You can still create lists but they will no longer be automatically updated.

It is a real shame this tool is being pulled, particularly as Twitter lists are a great way for journalists to filter those they want to follow and focus on. If your “all friends” stream has become too busy, make it more manageable by creating lists based on keywords while you still can. Your lists will not be updated as you follow additional Twitter users but Formulists provides a great way to start creating new lists.

It is worth exploring Formulists as it allows you to do more than simply create lists, such as allowing you to search for new Twitter users by topic.

The Formulists blog also points out some additional Twitter filtering tools.

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Journalism.co.uk top 10 stories on Twitter in 2011

December 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in About us, Traffic

Click the above image to connect with Journalism.co.uk on Twitter

After putting together some lists of the top 10 Twitter news stories of 2011, the top 10 Facebook news stories of 2011 and Journalism.co.uk’s top 10 stories on Facebook in 2011, we’ve compiled a list of the most tweeted Journalism.co.uk news stories and blog posts of the year.

1. Journalists increasingly using social media as news source, finds study 1,250

2. BBC developing new iPhone app for field reporters 911

3. Ten ways journalists can use Google+ 881

4. Julian Assange wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism 720

5. Al Jazeera English hits US screens after New York cable deal 508

6. #ijf11: Lessons in data journalism from the New York Times 468

7. How the five journalists with the greatest online influence use social media 367

8. ‘Is there a better way of doing this?’: Johann Hari responds to plagiarism accusations 361

9. #su2011: New online open newsroom a hit for Swedish newspaper 356

10. News of the World to publish final edition this Sunday 318

Data was gathered using Searchmetrics.

 

 

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Tool of the week for journalists – Rippla, for tracking the social ‘ripples’ of news stories

Tool of the week: Rippla

What is it? A tool that allows you to monitor the social media “ripples” of a news story

How is it of use to journalists? Rippla was launched last month as a tool that tracks how news and information reaches into people’s conversations on social media.

It may be interesting to find out that the story with the most “ripples” is currently the Mail Online’s Hilarious video shows cat stroking crying baby and sending him to sleep, followed by George Monbiot’s Guardian comment This bastardised libertarianism makes ‘freedom’ an instrument of oppression, But what is particularly helpful for journalists is the ripples tracker.

Ripples tracker allows you to enter the URL or a news story and see how many times it has been shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks and find out how many bit.ly click-throughs the post has received.

Rippla also offers news sites a widget than can be added (as embedded below), which displays the most socially shared news stories.

Most popular news stories
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How to embed tweets directly from the new Twitter

This is essential reading for anyone who embeds tweets into a news story or blog post.

Twitter now has an “embed this tweet” option on all tweets.

In the new Twitter, simply find the tweet you want to embed, click Twitter name (e.g. The Stream or The New York Times) on the individual tweet, then “details” and click “embed this tweet” and copy and paste the code.

This replaces the need to use Twitter’s (buggy) Blackbird Pie tool or a plugin such as Embedly.

Hat tip: 10,000 Words and Adam Tinworth on One Man and his Blog.

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Revised guidance on live court reporting due Wednesday

December 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Social media and blogging

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge is due to outline “revised practice guidance” on “electronic text-based communications” tomorrow (Wednesday, 13 December), in a follow-up to interim guidance issued a year ago.

In December 2010 England and Wales’ most senior judge provided guidance which said individuals could be granted permission to use a mobile phone or other small electronic device “in order to make live text-based communications of the proceedings”, as long as they had made a prior application to the court.

At the time the guidance emphasised that permission for live reporting of court proceedings would only be granted based on each individual case.

According to a press notice, since issuing this guidance the Lord Chief Justice has run a consultation which has included contributions from figures such as the Secretary of State for Justice and Attorney General as well as bodies such as the Press Complaints Commission and Society of Editors.

Once the guidance is outlined in court it will be published online, the notice added.

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Top 10 Twitter news stories of 2011

December 8th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging, Traffic

After taking a look at the top 10 Facebook news stories of 2011 yesterday, today we are publishing a list of the year’s top Twitter stories.

This list is based on data from SEO and social data tool Searchmetrics.

A liveblog makes it in at number two, plus there are photo stories and a news game (see number four).

1. Independent: Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl = 83,529

2. BBC: LIVE: Osama Bin Laden dead = 77,853

3. Mail Online: The big pictures: The moment Japan’s cataclysmic tsunami engulfed a nation =  74,835

4. BBC: The world at seven billion = 73,783

5. BBC: Apple holding more cash than USA = 70,202

6. Guardian: Top 100 women = 48,250

7. BBC: Malawi row over whether new law bans farting = 38,861

8. Mail: Back from the dead: Astonishing pictures show how Japan is recovering just three months after tsunami = 31,750

9. BBC: Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales = 28,253

10. BBC: Sacrebleu! = 27,377

Data was gathered using Searchmetrics and downloaded for analysis on 6 December. The news outlets included were: BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Mail Online, the Sun, the Mirror. You can see the downloaded Twitter data here.

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Tool of the week for journalists – Buffer, for scheduling tweets

Tool of the week: Buffer

What is it? A tool that allows you to schedule tweets

How is it of use to journalists? How many of your followers saw the last tweet you sent? As Twitter is a scattergun approach to sharing news, it is likely that most followers will have missed it.

Buffer is a tool that allows you to schedule tweets, posting them at selected intervals throughout the day. You can select Buffer’s suggested tweet times, which are based on research, or you can choose your own times.

Buffer could be helpful to news organisations who want to post a story, such as a feature or blog post, several times. It could also help in crowdsourcing, tweeting a request more than once.

According to Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich, who spoke to Journalism.co.uk and is quoted in this guide on how to: best post news on Twitter and Facebook, news organisations should tweet each story three to five times: for example once when the news story goes live, once a couple of hours later and then a third time the next day.

That’s very much a use case of why we built Buffer, but this is what we do for our news stories and blog posts. We drop all the stories we have into our buffer and they get well spaced out over the day and get posted so that we always have a different audience that will be able to see the tweet.

  • There will be a session on social media optimisation and how to best time tweets and Facebook posts at Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired – media in motion conference for journalists. The news:rewired agenda is at this link.
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