Social Media Journalist: ‘social search seems like a solution in search of a problem’ Howard Owens, Gatehouse Media, US talks to journalists across the globe about social media and how they see it changing their industry.

Image of Howard Owens

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Howard Owens, director of digital publishing for GateHouse Media. A large company of small newspapers based in Fairport, NY.

Previously, I was VP of interactive for the Bakersfield Californian and director of new media for the Ventura County Star.

I’ve been doing online newspapers since 1995, when I founded East County Online (San Diego County), the first group of weekly papers in the US with websites.

2. Which web or mobile-based social media tools do you use on a daily basis and why?

Google Reader; Digg; Twitter (not quite daily); Buzznet (not as often as I used to, and haven’t for a while). LinkedIn isn’t daily, but necessary; Facebook, not so much. My primary social network is that loose affiliation that comes through blogs.

3. Of the thousands of social media tools available could you single one out as having the most potential for news, either as a publishing or newsgathering tool?

As much as I find Facebook useless, I see a lot of potential there for how to build an SN for community newspapers. There are things about it I would change, but the basic infrastructure is there.

I see a lot of potential for journalists and the sites they work on in Scott Karp’s Publish2.

4. And the most overrated?

I don’t get social search, such as Mahalo and other such efforts. I have many great friends whom I have nothing in common with. I don’t give a rip what they search for.

There’s maybe two or three people in my life whom I think I have enough in common with that that might, might be useful … but for the most part, I don’t even care what they search for, because I see no reason to believe that for the most part Google is meeting my needs, and where it falls short, I don’t see social search solving that problem.

Vertical search could (see for an example I built), but social search seems like a solution in search of a problem.

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