Tag Archives: Frontline

Whistling in the dark….

 

The Future of Newsgathering and the Changing Media Landscape

Whistling in the dark at #fng12

Storified by Brian_Condon · Sun, Jul 01 2012 15:27:06

Frontline Club – Events: THIRD PARTY EVENT: The future of newsgathering and the changing media landscape19.00 Keynote speaker: Gavin Sheppard, marketing director, Media Trust. 19.30 Panel discussion: The future of newsgathering and the changing media landscape Change in the media landscape is constant. Technology and new media has enabled both journalists and citizens on the street to actually break news themselves.
The panel is Paul Lewis (Guardian), Matthew Eltringham (BBC College of Journalism), Mark Evans (Sky News), Gavin Sheppard (Media Trust) and Ravin Sampat (Blottr) – moderated by Nikki Bedi (BBC)
#FNG12 has started. Intro with @nikkibedi pic.twitter.com/jBRxfyBkKaty Durrans
Nikki Bedi is reading out the panel’s Twitter profiles at #fng12 twitpic.com/a1k9uvBrian_Condon
Gavin says he feels like “a junior Minister on Newsnight” as he’s not an esteemed journalist or a newsgatherer. He notes the fundamental shift in the production and consumption of media. He says 91% of adults use a mobile phone – lots of them smartphones.
.@gavinmediatrust giving keynote speech at #FNG12 "communities no longer prepared to sit back" and merely absorb mainstream media
Somewhat odd there’s no blogger or community reporter on the panel #fng12 @johnpopham would’ve been good.
As the news environment gets noisier people will appreciate the comment and analysis from mainstream more and more. @GavinMediaTrust #FNG12
#fng12 Decent turnout despite the football! @mediatrust @blottr pic.twitter.com/BdDZRO80Katrine Carstens
Challenges are about needing to take a view much more quickly whether you are a journalist or a politician as a story can gather pace in hours or minutes. People have more technology in their pockets than news organisations had 10 years ago.
#FNG12 @GavinMediaTrust says communities are no longer willing to be bystanders they can circumnavigate media to get voices heard
Playing journobuzzword bingo at #fng12 MSM, UGC, validation, citizen journalism, it’s too easy!
Opportunity for community produced media needs to be treated as ‘a contribution’ and possibly paid for. There’s lots of it out there – and some of it is high quality and very good; well linked to communities and their concerns – he argues.
RT @Media_Trust: Local news for local communities is a valid and important contribution to the mainstream. @GavinMediaTrust #FNG12
Collaboration is what’s happening now. People are recording, sharing. That’s journalistic. @PaulLewis #FNG12
#FNG12 @PaulLewis poses question, what would happen if there were no paid journalists? In riots citizen journalists filled gaps in reporting
Nikki is asking Ravin if “journalism has moved beyond the stereotype” – mentions coffee swilling reporter typing frantically typing against a deadline. Ravin says we have a 24hr news cycle and news apps, with Twitter being a new source. Consumption is changing so production must – he argues. Technology and people have changed and the combination of these new ways of generating content and news has changed how broadcasters need to behave.
#FNG12 Ravin from @blottr is questioning what the difference is between a professional and citizen journalist
Paul observes that we do more than we could and we can certainly do better. What’s happening is the symbiotic relationship Gavin mentioned – and this opens up new avenues to explore and increased transparency. But it is difficult – where might we end up? Fewer being paid to do journalism but more people doing what might be described as journalism. The riots last year showed that. Between 1 and 4 am Sky and the BBC had to pull out of the area. But the was a constant feed of information online.
#fng12 Check out Swedish Radio project Journalism 3.0 creating symbiosis between user generated content and traditional journalism
#FNG12 @nikkibedi "always the risk of disinformation" @PaulLewis "there has always been disinformation" but social media also regulates self
#FNG12 @GavinMediaTrust if community produced media is embraced by the mainstream media it will only ensure a wider diversity of reporting
Social media is viral media and it can be self-regulating argues Paul.
Matthew arguing that the verification of the content produced by local or citizen journalists is an important part of the BBC’s approach; such material needs to be forensically examined and verified.
#FNG12 @skymarkevans says citizen journalism isn’t new, he’s always used parish magazines etc as a news gathering source
Nikki asks Mark about Sky News’ policies and he agrees that they have changed – and Sky don’t reTweet any other news organisation’s tweets. Here’s the first google entry if you search for that! From the Guardian:
Sky News clamps down on Twitter useSky News has told its journalists not to repost information from any Twitter users who are not an employee of the broadcaster. An email to staff on Tuesday laid out new social media guidelines for Sky News employees, including a contentious ban on retweeting rival "journalists or people on Twitter".
Paul is arguing that news is also about trust – and the liveblog is an important new aspect. Some news organisations are not that trusted he argues. Mark says that analysis and brand recognition are still important.  He thinks that the power of a brand combined with the value added by verification and analysis are sufficient to deliver sustainable business.  @KatyBlotter notes:
#FNG12 @skymarkevans "not the keepers of information anymore…we have a role to play in terms of validation…analysis"
And @Stuartdhughes agrees:
. @skymarkevans quite right – verifying stories gathered via social media isn’t a new skill for journalists #fng12
#FNG12 @GavinMediaTrust citizen journalism and prof journalism don’t replace eachother, but they should work together to benefit public most
#FNG12 @PaulLewis "users/readers as good or better" at commenting on live football in this example
Matthew says a mixed model is where a lot of journalism is going and he says it’s challenging and interesting to the BBC.
Paul Lewis says “it’s not just trust” it’s also about the quality of writing and investigation. He mentions ‘grey news’ and the need for verification. And the propagation of material which needs to be checked. Matthew says that just the fact that the BBC and Sky are asking ‘is this true’ gives it credence.
Panel now focusing on the use of false stories to generate attention and drive traffic to websites; and the ethics of later “withdrawing” a story.
Question about the process for verifying sources of news on Twitter – “You never pay them do you?” Nikki asks Ravin.  Ravin says “No.  Never.”.  
#FNG12 debating methods of checking socmed sources. Journos need to be quick if it’s already on socmed but doesn’t mean it’s true
Paul mentions the construction of false identities online – and agrees that “We have made mistakes”.  In dealing with something new, and taking risks, mistakes are going to happen.  
Ravin says “it’s the way we’re changing and we want it now” – Nikki agrees.
What about the future asks a participant [he didn’t give his name]; he’s concerned that the ‘trusted brands’ won’t be here in the future. Mark says we are talking about the ways in which we will help journalism survive. There may be new brands that can be trusted – and young people interact with the big brands differently.
Mark arguing that the mobile device is revolutionising newsgathering and this may mean that brands we have now may not exist.  But there will be trusted brands.  
#FNG12 @seancurtisward asks whats the financial model – when will citizen journos get paid for their contributions to media
Paul arguing there’s little money about – and there will be less. But there is abundance and chaos- and the difficulty for everyone is is working out how to access and find the news they need.
#FNG12 "all journalism is going online" newspapers and tv @PaulLewis @Blottr
The event finishes with Nikki thanks the sponsors, participants and panel members, conversations begin and the panelists stand and as they do, I hear the following and immediately Tweet:
"No community panel members" says @skymarkevans wryly. The panel laughs. #fng12.
As the room clears, I have a quick look at the Storify copy, republish, and make this Audio boo:
Immediate reflections on the Future of NewsgatheringAn Audioboo by brian_condon
You might also be interested in the ‘reach’ of the event; here’s a Tweetreach report:
Twitter Reach Report Results for #fng12Activity provides details about the tweets in this report, including the total number of tweets and unique contributors, the time period covered by the report, a graphical timeline showing tweet volume during the report period, and tweet type breakdown.
Two words not mentioned at #FNG12 "blogger" and "#leveson"Brian_Condon
Since the event, there’s been some further comment on Twitter:
#FNG12 been thinking: Sometimes my job feels like media for community development, sometimes it feels like community for media developmentKim Townsend
future of Newsgathering? The likes of @_sampat and @Blottr staying one step ahead of the wires with credible grassroots journalism #fng12Stuart Hughes

Phone hacking – ethics and tabloid journalism

At the Frontline Club for this event.  More info here: Ethics and Journalism

From the Frontline Club site:

“Chaired by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow.

With:
David Banks, former editor of the Daily Mirror and editorial director of Mirror Group Newspapers. Worked in London, New York and Sydney over a thirteen-year career with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp during which he edited two papers in Australia. Now a columnist and regular broadcaster.

Jane Martinson, women’s editor of the Guardian and former media editor;

Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, an independent charity that looks for ways to foster high standards in news and a founder of the Hacked Off campaign;

Toby Young, freelance journalist and associate editor of The Spectator, where he writes a weekly column. He also blogs for the Daily Telegraph and is the author of  How to Lose Friends & Alienate People and The Sound of No Hands Clapping.”

I’m liveblogging using coveritlive.

Watch live streaming video from frontlineclub at livestream.com

Can the Internet win the next election?

Bloggers think ‘No, but it can probably lose it’

Last week’s elections and the political fallout have placed in context, for me, the event I went to at the Frontline Club on 28 May about how the Internet might play a part in the next election.  The participants were:

  • Iain Dale, Conservative blogger at Iain Dale’s Diary
  • Alex Smith, recently appointed Editor of the LabourList.org
  • Adam Boulton, Political Editor, Sky News (Chair)
  • Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes)
  • Matthew Macgregor of Blue State Digital (the company that worked for the Obama campaign
(l-r) Iain Dale, Alex Smith, Adam Boulton, Paul Staines, Matthew Macgregor
(l-r) Iain Dale, Alex Smith, Adam Boulton, Paul Staines, Matthew Macgregor

I made contemporaneous notes and also some Audioboo content which is available here.  A bit of background to the event here:

Everyone in ‘Broadcast Mode’ needs to ‘get with the program’

iain-dale
Iain Dale - political blogger

Iain Dale  (pictured left) believes that the internet will impact individual MPs (mostly through revealing things they don’t want revealed I suspect) but that the overall ‘systemic’ effect of the internet will be small.

He agrees that the next General Election will be the first where mobile phones and social media will really begin to play a part and where bloggers will cause changes in the news cycle:

“We get more hits every day than all the 3 main parties put together”

He said referring to the traffic generated by his blog and by Guido Fawkes’.

The problem is the main parties are in ‘Broadcast Mode’ and that given British politics is driven by ‘controlling the message’ the level of interactivity of social media is a challenge.  As Matthew Macgregor said “The internet is a tactic not a strategy” and that it lowers the barriers to communication (especially inbound to the Party) but how real is the commitment to ‘openness and transparency’.  The reaction of the media to policy discussions driven by social media will, Matthew believes, be instructive; will the shutters come down once the media starts talking about ‘splits’.

“There’s nothing to click on other than ‘Unsubscribe'” – Matthew Macgregor

Alex Smith believes that “The Internet will play a crucial role in the next election” – he mentions viral video and the possibility of debate being shaped by the internet.  He argues that the internet has “already effectively removed one of the Prime Minister’s closest political aides” and that the next election will to some extent be driven by stories that will “break on the web”.  Alex believes that Paul and Iain have a huge impact on the media cycle and thinks that this will be an important factor.  All the panelists agreed that the Internet strategies of the main parties were poor at best.

Boulton’s shock hashtag confession

At one point when talking about social media and the internet Adam Boulton said he didn’t know what a hashtag was (and I don’t think he was joking!) and references to the internet seemed to feel like references to some kind of monolithic bloc.  Alex picked up the point that realtime interaction driven by things like Twitter might be important.  Adam seemed to think that a Sky news team would always be faster on the ground.

The next Boo starts with the voices of Alex Smith (interesting references to Alan Johnson) and then Iain Dale.  I round off with a few thoughts.

The next Boo has ‘reportage’ – skip it if you feel you have enough of a flavour from the text above.

Reflections and implications

The format worked well with a fairly formal panel session followed by various panelists joining tables and moving between courses.  The informal part of the event was really good – we had Iain Dale and Alex Smith and the comments and discussion were very engaging.

The event would have been improved by a more discursive (and less ‘Question Time’) approach by the chair.  Also, having a chair who seemed quite cheerful to admit that he didn’t ‘get’ the internet seems odd – but then presumably Adam ‘Hashtag’ Boulton was a draw for the ‘punters’ (especially the non-geeks)!  All in all though a minor criticism.

There were two main things I took away to think about:

  • The importance of internet aggregation in realtime and increasing symmetry of communication,
  • The potential for independent candidates to harness the power of the internet to disintermediate the major parties.

More thoughts in the next Audioboo:

Sometimes it needs stating . . .

There was a bit of noise on Twitter both during media140 and after it on the extent of ‘obvious stating’ going on at the event.  Much of this comment was of a critical nature – ‘they don’t get it'; referring to the somewhat Twitter-sceptical journalists in the room.  The bigger players there (Sky and the BBC) indulged in a bit of un-necessary and rather tedious sparring.  Both of them, I suppose, feeling secure in their knowledge that their respective ‘market’ power and ‘broadcast’ mode will leave them largely unchanged by the openess and pervasiveness of social media generally and Twitter in particular. Hmmm.

Following media140, I’ve been reading blogs and the press coverage – reportage mostly; who said what and with little commentary or analysis about what it all means.  Perhaps it’s too scary for the Potential Legacy Media (currently known as MSM) to think about?  And sometimes that means the obvious needs a bit of stating.

Wordle based on media140 liveblog

As part of the ‘post match’ coverage there was an interesting if largely self-referential segment on pods and blogs on R5Live with journalists and a thoughtful comment from Mark Jones of Reuters who also provided some excellent comment and analysis on his Reuters blog.

Realtime coverage

I used Audioboo and Scribblelive at the event.  I also generated the wordle above based on my liveblog.  You can find the liveblog here and ‘hat tips’ to contributors here.

Those of you who liveblog events will know the level of concentration it needs.  Using Scribblelive actually increases the level of complexity as you try to bring in other people’s tweets, try to avoid too much duplication (most sole tweeters at events do so in realtime and there’s often duplication in the aggregated stream).  Trying to join in, provide some realtime feedback and combine inputs is ‘not for the faint-hearted’ as the Scribblelive people say!

In the next sections, I provide some thoughts on media140 after reflecting on the issues, the coverage and my own liveblog and Audioboos made at the time; I name the presenters in the Audioboos and you can also refer to the Agenda.

The 140 Character story

This panel kept bouncing off the argument – they had a silly discussion about whether Twitter was journalism or not.  And we kind of forgot the ‘realtime news’ tagline of the entire event.  What was missing for me was:

  • What the aggregation of information carried across Twitter enables (the analogy from Bill Thompson of the Twitter  ‘seismograph’ is insightful);
  • The speed at which news can propagate through memes and hashtags and the level of self-organisation enabled by this form of cooperative production (Retweets, comments, links to blog posts, realtime and near realtime video streams and websites); and,
  • The need to filter true signals from the sheer noise and volume of the information available.

Sources, editorial control and workflow

The panel did discuss the risks of ‘opening up’ the news process and the potential impacts on the way news is made and perceived.  I wonder what happens to the ‘news cycle’ in a General Election when many of us have access to realtime video production on our mobile phones or can report events directly as they happen over Twitter?  We’ll find out soon!

The panel focused on the risks.   An example of the risks seems to have been happening while the event was on, but I’m not sure anyone realised it.

twitterspam Skynews.com used Coveritlive to add a Tweetstream to their site.  There seems to have been no filtering so there was lots of spam.  And seemingly little editorial control over the Tweets.  Just what risks Sky may have been running can be imagined; the links to ‘goldencasinoflash’ could have been links to anything.  Anything at all….

untibpc-spamtMy Tweets were being carried live by Skynews also – even though I was effectively doing competing realtime coverage using a rival platform to Sky.  I don’t know to what extent there was active editorial control of the Tweetstream – the amount of spam they let through might suggest very little?

Frontline Journalism

One of the few times in the event when the room went really quiet and people listened really hard was when Guy Degen, freelance journalist and a member of the Frontline Club, played some audio and video footage from Tblisi.  He was sent there on his own for Deutsche Welle; he had no gear and no time to get any, no crew and used a mobile phone to cover a riot. Frontline indeed.

Kevin Anderson was insightful on the impact of social media on reporting on a roadtrip style assignment in the USA.

Local and human

Local news = newspapers? #fail

Joanne Jacobs ably chaired the final panel session and brought the whole event back pretty much on time so kudos to her.  It was an interesting and stimulating panel – and you can pick up some of the flavour of the discussion from pp 6-8 of the liveblog.

Given what’s happening in local and regional news, the discussion after the short presentations seemed to spiral into being about newspapers.  But surely local news is going to be much more than papers – but I can see there’s a painful transition to go through for a lot of people.  Some of the more ‘gung ho’ social mediarati might like to think about that.

No-one mentioned the ‘backchannel’

The backchannel (what happens in the social media space during an event or presentation) didn’t get a mention.

Here’s an example from media140:

Use the backchannel!
Use the backchannel!

I first came across the backchannel in tech conferences in the USA about 5 years ago – using chat room software over local wireless networks and, in some instances allowing external participants ‘listening-in’ to audio streams to interact with the chat.  All these messages were projected on a screen behind the speaker so it was generally impossible both to present to the audience and watch the backchannel at the same time.  The backchannel often had more stimulating and interesting stuff on it than was happening on the panel.  And dangerous sometimes for both speaker and audience.  I remember taking my PowerBook onto the stage and using it in a panel session both to contribute to the backchannel and comment on what other panelists were saying.  Apparently, this was unusual at the time.  The audience reaction was interesting!

So it seems to me that the Potential Legacy Media faces the same risks as a pompous or tedious speaker in perpetual broadcast mode with an active backchannel.  Like a politician giving the answer to a question the interviewer didn’t ask, the risks of audience alienation are high.  And when the real backchannel turns against you, as it has for our MPs recently, life can get very unpleasant.

Being Human and Connecting

Jeff Pulver over a quite good Skype video link finished off on an optimistic note.  We can move from a position where the one-way broadcast mode can become much more interactive.  It has to be more than ‘promotion'; it must be much more about connection.  Above all, it’s about being human and taking that humanity with us into social media spaces and connecting.