Liveblogging at Media140 – hashtag #media140

This is where I’ll be updating from the Media140 microblogging for news conference in London, dependant on battery life and plug sockets becoming available.

In addition to myself, there is also coverage from:

  • Paula Goes @paulagoes
  • Benjamin Dyer @benjamindyer
  • Dan Martin @dan_martin
  • Mike Atherton @sizemore
  • Ana Brasil @ana_brasil
  • Vikki Chowney @vikkichowney
  • Brian Condon @brian_condon
  • Sheamus Bennett@sheamus
  • Should wifi go down, I’m tweeting at @badgergravling – the content will be tidied after the event, honest!

    2.30pm: Welcome from Andre Gregson (@dailytwitter – Media140 founder) explaining how the event has grown to 250+ people, and the fact it will fund a charitable event next year.

    2.45pm: Keynote speech by Pat Kane, (Writer, musician, consultant, player, theorist and activist @theplayethic). Discussing personal usage of tools such as Twitter and Audioboo, and moving onto posing some of the obvious uses for newspapers and the major questions it poses.

    3pm: First panel discussion on ‘The 140 character story’: How much will twitter and microblogging change the way breaking news is sourced globally by news organisations?’

    Chaired by Tom Whitwell (Assistant Editor, Times Online)

    Panel: Darren Waters (BBC Technology Editor, @darrenwaters), Jon Gripton (Sky News Online News Editor @jongrip), Bill Thompson (Technology critic and commentator @billt), Mike Butcher (Editor of Techcrunch Europe @mikebutcher) and Nick Halstead (CEO and Founder and @nickhalstead).

    @billt challenges the shared traditional media outlook of both Sky and the BBC when it comes to Twitter. Nick Halstead talking about looking at it from a technological point of view – technology can spot things happening faster than humans but then it’s how people take it and use it.

    Mike Butcher moves onto discussing how Technorati would have been the main topic five years ago, and how it’s switched from blog search to microblogging. Mentions an account claiming to be Nick Brown MP claiming when the election would come – first challenge (Did anyone phone him and ask him).

    Interesting point that just because things can be done in real time, doesn’t mean they have to be. @jongrip talking about Sky’s use of Twitter including engaging, chatting and answering back.

    ‘Does the desire to get the story quickly justify going to press quickly  – how do we implement the tools in a defensible way?’

    Nick Halstead wonders if Twitter moving to a search/reputation facility is going to have an effect. Do you trust Twitter users whether or not a story is trustworthy.

    Mike Butcher – We’re putting a huge amount of trust in one platform. Recent changes, unreliability etc – putting so much newsgathering onto one platform is risky.

    Darren Waters on the split between official channels from the BBC and the personal channels from professional BBC journalists – for instance tweets being checked by a second pair of eyes before being included in the official stream from Davos.

    Bill Thompson discussing how as an independant person who writes for the BBC and can have an opinion – and whether professional journalists from organisations being personal on Twitter is like the wizard stepping out from behind the curtain and revealing that the news is written by someone who has personal views on politics etc.

    Panel question for ‘how you source news via Twitter’ – @billt- using it like being a seismologist – you can see something is  happening by the ripples, but can’t tell what it is . Twitter isn’t the journalism – doesn’t believe anything he sees or reads on Twitter. @jongrip – it’s for communicating, talking, sharing and interacting. Nick Halstead – the rise of real time services, and more adoption of real time into news etc in the U.S. – watching trends and looking into them. It’s not just about real time, but it’s also got to be relevancy. The company that gets that right will be the winner, because real time is just a massive stream without filtering. Darren Waters – BBC using a hub to look at trends emerging – personal accounts and interactions mean that the sources tend to converge between news and personal contacts – people whose tweets are valuable and worth following. Mike Butcher – at Techcrunch they don’t have a system of checks and barriers (@billt ‘Who knew!’). If there is a cutting edge it’s people on the tech side who are doing everything – these will be amazing newsgathering tools, whilst also echoing Bill’s comment about doing the verification etc of journalism. Balancing getting stuff out there as fast as you can in as reasonable a manner as you can as well. The users will fact check techcrunch/Mike as much as anyone else – the users are the News Editors – and the Techcrunch team know they’re going to get caught out or be behind in the stream. Leads to the debate between the BBC approach and Techcrunch approach – would the BBC audience accept fact checking?

    Will Twitter make money – ‘answer from BillT – don’t know, don’t care. We want to microblog and someone will figure out the way it can be done.’ Darren – ‘Twitter will sell’. Nick – ‘realtime search could be advertised against, plus the pro account by the end of the year’. Mike ‘charge for tools, not for advertising. The problem is how you can slow down the stream – advertising would screw things up and slow down the stream’.

    How will journalists learn their trade when they’re starting out – Darren – ‘companies which still have money to invest in training, you’d hope will continue to train people in law, court reporting etc. There are also ways to self-train’. Mike – ‘hearing that the BBC might be looking at ‘rock star’ journalists who go out and take on news like a bull at a gate. The times when you did a training course, worked on a local paper, and then went to a national will be up against someone who could have a blog, an audience, and knows what they are talking about.’

    @jongrip claiming 140 characters isn’t journalism. @darrenweaters using the example of Peter Mandleson tweeting Tony Blair lied about the Gulf War, or writing headlines which also power Ceefax would mean it’s journalism.

    The suggestion from the BBC Red Button team on adding Twitter to the TV options.

    Question – with only 2/3s online in the UK, will people be able to get relevant news. Darren (BBC) – taking the point that people can’t get broadband etc and the Digital Britain plan for 2Mbps broadband for everyone that could be transformational. But wishes it could be faster. Nick (Tweetmeme) if people don’t have broadband, how many people have mobile devices. Mike (Techcrunch) report that 1/3 of the country whether U.S or U.K would never be interested in being online – talks about Facebook, and the difference between an 1815 failed uprising of 40 people and two years later when 60,000 people were involved – the difference was the rise of cheap pamphleteering in between. The people themselves are self-organising around their own issues etc. The journalism aspect of local issues is fading.

    4.10pm Frontline journalism with Twitter – Success and Failure in Social Media. A series of quick fire presentations by industry professionals looking at particular examples of news gathering using microblogging and social media.

    Hosted by Laura Oliver (Senior Reporter,

    Suq Charman-Anderson (Social Technologist @suw), Mark Jones (Reuters Global Community Editor @markjones), Kevin Anderson (Guardian Blogs Editor @kevglobal), Guy Degen (Frontline Club, Freelance @fieldreports), Moeed Ahmad (Al Jazeera, Head of New Media, @moeed).

    Suw Carman-Anderson talking on the Ada Lovelace day movement to blog and post in honour of Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer – inspired by an article which stated women need real-life role models more than men. Was adivsed the aim of 1000 might be too many – 1000 signed up in first seven days and 1900+ eventually posted. Predominantly spread through Twitter including the specific @findingada account. The Facebook page led to Suw signing up for Facebook and discovering it was a lot more closed and less active – names didn’t seem to trasfer into action.

    Spread to different areas – a newspaper column, schools, a web comic, video, audio – huge amount of coverage. Most major newspapers covered it e.g. Metro etc.

    ‘finding ideas which have their own momentum’ – had an idea, tried it, and it took off.

    Kevin Anderson:

    Went across the U.S for the U.S. election. 3rd trip – each with something interesting. First was webcasting. 2004-blogging. Spent most of career as a field journalist – the problems of leaving stories to find wifi or phone sockets etc. Once couldn’t file a story because phonelines etc were down – in 2008 it’s possible to do highly distributed, highly networked journalism. Using lots of services to see what happens – 3 primary ones – Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. This was real time information. Covering a rolling live event, picked up followers and able to Retweet . Driven 4000 miles in 3.5 weeks alone – would not have been able to do as much, in as much depth without Twitter especially.

    Getting introduced to contacts and information on the fly. All into phone rather than laptop. Constantly plugged in. Also pulled sources/contacts into the conversation about the U.S. elections.

    Other use was aggregation – RT and flagging them up. What’s the best way of re-aggregating everything that is so distributed – there’s work to be done on a platform level to make use of tools like geo-tagging. But then how do you aggregate the interaction?

    Guy Degen:

    Independant freelancer using Twitter in the field. What works and doesn’t, and what could be done better.

    Using Georgia as an example – opposition protests in April. Twitter means a solitary reporter isn’t alone in the field. In Georgia producing multimedia work for the UN.  Given a couple of hours before going live on German TV – only tool was a Nokia N82 and a 3G network. Monitoring local radio coverage and had reported on Georgia before – but following a Twitter search for Tiblisi was a useful feed to have to monitor developments. Also trying to reach out to people in Tiblisi or followiing events to get in touch with anything of interest. Pics via Twitpic. Also created audio with Utterli – and live-ish video with Qik. 

    Protests happening over several locations – Twitter for monitoring other sites. By the end of the week a blog and useful network were starting to emerge. Suggestions for helping reports etc, a digital space, training, and also time to practice.

    German shooting media coverage – showed weaknesses – German media weren’t active Twitter users on the scene – one hour after shootings before 1st shot, two hours before getting in touch with the first Tweeter. And the first tweeter said that they had secondhand news, and didn’t have any information for the media, but the media still shone the spotlight on her. They were doing a lot of learning on the run, and probably weren’t ready for doing it with this story. One magazine started a new Twitter account with the German name for a killing spree, and then had to delete it and start again under a more neutral Twitter name.

    Mark Jones: Reuters microblogging and social media:

    Four stages of Reuters tweeting – cynicism, curiousity/anxiety, engagement, addicition.

    Uses: 1. Alternative RSS, 2. Live blogging tool, 3. News monitoring, 4. Socialising public policy events.

    Verdict of Reuters Pakistan experts was that you couldn’t understand what was going on in recent events unless you were watching a particular hashtag.

    Editor-in-Chief was liveblogging in Davos and beat his own newswire.

    Socialising public policy events – public figures coming to Reuters to make a speech and in the old days, they’d be broadcasted.  New way involved @documentally and a Nokia, broadcasting with Qik. Learnt from first event and integrated questions to David Cameron via Tweetdeck – and then David Cameron addressed some later on his own Youtube channel. 3rd event was Robert Zoellick, to do a special social media only session – had 100s of questions come in, and they were the types of questions certain groups might have thought were basic.

    Question to Guy – Are people twittering etc in English, or are there language barriers:

    Tweetdeck has a translation function as a client. Georgian script wouldn’t come through on some platforms because it was unusual – only gave the chance to communicate with a small group communicating in English.

    Question to Guy and Kevin: How do you find these networks ina  breaking news situation, or groups that might not be visible in your language.

    Kevin – Liveblogging debates would lead to people coallescing around them, and could then follow them and hashtags related. Also spoke to political loggers in every state he went to. Plugging into existing communities and conversations. Important to find people who are interested in what you;re doing, and not trying to go viral by spamming people. That way people pass it along.  Using Twibble to find people on a map via profile information.

    Guy – iPhone and Tweetie – being able to see in terms of proximity who is on Twitter, which would have helped.  In Nigeria etc, Nigeria Pulse is an open source network – it’s not just Twitter, thanks to

    Question: What are your thoughts on Obama’s team changing social media policy after winning:

    Winning an election is very different to governing. Still trying to tap into the community created around the campaign to try to put pressure on Congress for new laws etc.

    Question: If you had a room full of developers in front of you what would you like built:

    Mark – A version of Tweetdeck that sorted wheat from the chaff

    Kev – a version of video, and if mobile carriers could be less bastards,

    Suw – tools around Twitter are designed for symmetrical networks – if you have a lot of people following, the amount of DM’s become unwieldy.  Once you get asymmetrical you risk broadcasting rather than conversing. It’s about how they work when you are dealing with huge numbers of followers.

    Moeed via Skype (connection issues made it slightly difficult to follow)

    Gaza conflict was the first which was happening as much online as on the ground, with a battlefield for ideas. The first thing that happened was the helpuswin website to mobilise people sympathising with Israel. Gaza New Media Resistance, pulling together news as facts from different sources and trying to win hearts and minds online. All tagged with #gaza. Launched a feed to make use of advantage of english -speaking reports on the ground, plus Arabic staff there.

    AJGaza twitter account, plus training teams and reports on how to use Twitter. Instantly get the initial cynicism – overcame it by convincing the upper management.  Also embedded Twitter stream back onto the website – lots of users didn’t know or care about Twitter and would never sign up – but could get that reporting when it was embedded on the main website on the articles. People cared about the immediacy – became fourth most popular page on the website within days.

    Challenges included journalists dropping hashtags because he felt it made the sentence look ugly! Not part of existing work, so getting understanding that it was an important avenue. Also covering Ushahidi crowdsourcing for emergency information to take SMS to report via web, email, SMS over a map. But because communications were knocked out it didn’t really work, so they took the Twitter stream and used it to visualise the data.

    5.10pm: Local News: How will social media and microblogging change the way traditional local news provider source and report news?

    Hosted by Joanne Jacobs (Social Media Cosultant)

    Simon Grice (Founder, @simongrice), Christian Payne (Journalist @docaumentally), Paul Bradshaw (Brimingham City University @paulbradshaw), Joanna Geary (Web Development Editor, Times Online @timesjoanna).

    Joanna Geary: Changing local journalism in the same way as all jorunalism – finding the community, want they want, what they need, and reporting back to them. Just a more visible place to find the people journalists should have already been serving.

    Christian Payne: What I hope microblogging can do for news – make sure it happens where it matters most – where there’s no free press, where there’s no real news etc. Using the example of Zimbabwe  – 30,000 texts sent 3 times a week with news headlines after short wave broadcasts were blocked by Mugabe. We need to take local news seriously in places that aren’t local to us. And asked everyone to add @swranews to find out more soon.

    Paul Bradshaw: Journalists have to do it, not a job for the paperboy online anymore. Opens up opportunities for organisation etc which wasn’t there before. Ieas like flashmob journalism to cover an event.

    Simon Grice:  Had the idea to links people to tweets from the nearest physical local paper to them. People really care about the local news that’s important to them. Very local is very important to them.

    question : How does anyone make money, not just Twitter?

    Paul – partnering with carriers to offer text updates.

    Simon – offering local ads.

    Christian – micro, micro local.

    Joanna – we’ve been selling audiences not content. We need to look at what people need. Maybe it’s how businesses are structured.

    Question: Johnstone press etc suffering:

    Simon – We need to rethink locality when local papers used to decide what was news and local etc.

    Question – Will we have a highly connected, local, but globally ignorant community:

    Simon – We actually need to focus more on local news. The act of aggregation, filtering and context. Different media, same skillset, and instead of 1 newspaper etc, there would be 100s of thousands.

    Paul – No, Yes. Is the internet bad or good, it’s like life – it’s complicated. Future for local news publishers – they have a great opportunity if they’re canny about it. They need a newsroom without walls,a nd if they don’t do it, others will fill the gap and benefit.

    Joanna – social media people can be scary at first – but the big help was meeting people in real life, leading to inviting the scariest person on the website into the newsroom – if people have hung around that long they genuinely care.

    Questions – what about IPTV’s effect on local TV?

    Simon – same local approach.

    Question: How deep into revenue streams do local newspapers have to go?

    Joanna: If we knew the answer we’d have made it. Already a growing amount of experimentation in local media. New products and services, new advertising, trying to own a platform. I don’t know what’s going to work.

    Christian: Only the creative will survive – and I hope only the creative will survive.

    Paul: Digital Britain an allowing organisations to merge or tax breaks is just about propping up an idea of what needs preserving rather than supporting something new. Already happening in America. Mu suspicion is that most publishers will trundle along trying to squeeze something out of what they’ve got, cutting staff, until someone else comes along with something amazing.

    Simon – a comapny said they wouldn’t work with us because they said they should have been able to do it themselves.

     6.10pm Closing Comments

    Jeff Pulver (Technology Anthropologist, Entrepreneur, Early-Stage Seed Investor @jeffpulver)

    Microblogging event dedicated to UK Media and Journalists

    If you’re based in the UK with an interest in Microblogging and journalism, then media140 looks like an essential event.

    It’s on May 20th, on the Southbank in London, and features a mix of case studies and panels with journalists from The Times, Guardian, Reuters, Sky News, and Frontline Club. Plus prominent social media bloggers.

    Topics will include:
    – how to persuade journalists to take and use twitter seriously.
    – what is news worthy, how do you recognise it?
    – breaking the news, how you can potentially undermine your own news room
    – will local community create local news through microblog technologies?
    – tools of the trade, what works and what doesn’t?
    – is microblogging and twitter really a game changer?

    Tickets are £45 and available now. For more details, see the media140 website.

    Interested in the media and journalism – get yourself to JEEcamp

    If you’re involved in journalism and the media, then I’d recommend checking out JEEcamp ‘an unconference (or barcamp) for journalism experimenters.’



    I’m hoping I can commit to a place before space runs out, as there are some interesting events, including a ‘musical chairs panel discussion’, where each panel member gets replaced after they’ve asked a question.

    But the main reason is that I’m sure there will be a host of interesting people and discussions, because the host is @paulbradshaw, senior lecturer in online journalism and web design at Birmingham City University, and one of the people by the Online Journalism Blog, where he has a habit of posting extremely interesting/useful posts.

    Plus it’s only £20 to cover the venue (or to be donated to charity if a sponsor turns up). You can book tickets via Eventbrite.

    No comment needed on NUJ comment

    Happened across this post, via Antony Mayfield.

    Regardless of the actual post, what really caught my eye was in the comments by Chris Wheal:


    ‘Let me reiterate a principle of journalism: You contact the subject of a story and put the allegations to them before you publish.

    Had you done so – contacted the NUJ or me, as you know I chair the Professional Training Committee – you’d have had an explanation.

    The story would have been much less interesting. It would have been: Tired NUJ training chair, angered by poor journalistic standards on blogs, asks committee to engage with bloggers to try to raise standards.’

    Followed by:

    ‘The NUJ believes that journalistic standards should apply across all media. If that sounds out of touch, and old-fashioned then sorry, I must be a dinosaur.

    The NUJ fails to police those standards as well as it would like in the tabloid press due to the powerful media owners, weak industrial relations legislation, lack of a contractual right to refuse to do unethical stories and a host of other reasons.

    The NUJ fails to maintain standards in blogs because bloggers themselves rejoice in having lower standards.‘ (emphasis mine).

    I’m pretty sure I don’t need to add anything, except:

    Saving print media- at least part of it

    I’ve got a hunch that might develop into a theory with a bit of love and attention, and though it was worth sharing.

    We all know that print media is in decline – ranging from slight drops to terminal free fall depending on the market. But does this mean print will cease to exist?

    Or will there always be a print market as a niche of the digital world, in the same way as vinyl still exists as a viable niche within the music industry?

    Ignoring the fact that an ageing part of the population will prefer print for a few more years to come, are there ways to ensure that people under 30 engage with print in some way? After all many vinyl sales over recent years are not aimed at an ageing population, but at a young, cool, DJ market who choose it over mixing with MP3s and CDs even now.

    In this way, vinyl becomes remarkable, a talking point, and a Purple Cow. It signifies you’re a DJ, with either skills that require vinyl, or retro taste, and that you’re willing to go further to obtain a particular song in the format you want – whether it’s a new record, or a collectible classic.

    I’ve been thinking about how print could become remarkable again, having achieved it as a medium for spreading the news before the arrival of mass radio and TV, and as a home of great content. Why, even in the face of decline, is there not more experimentation? For instance, with the impact of the financial crisis, why wouldn’t a broadsheet try printing a 5 page version, with only financial news, and selling it for a far lower price? (Perhaps the costs of printing and distribution etc might be overcome by mass sales and the publicity?).

    Perhaps more titles need to look at the sales of anthology editions of certain brands – for instance videogame magazines Edge and RetroGamer have both published anthology editions which can command high prices on ebay.

    Or a hand-printed, collectible newspaper? The Manual was actually distributed a week or so ago as an attempt to reawake the idea of print as collectible and powerful.

    Empire magazine has always had some interesting cover ideas (Disclosure I work for publishers Bauer Media), like the 100 different covers for their recent rundown of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. As well as the famous quotes on the spine of the magazine.

    Some magazines have experiment with size, mostly going to A5 ‘handbag size’ for the female market. (Male mag Jack failed despite writing which echoed the days when Loaded magazine had articles worth reading). But as the market is changing so rapidly, maybe there’s something more that could be tried?

    Or considering a brand like Moleskine evokes a sense of luxury and culture in notepads, perhaps small runs of magazines could appeal to that market?

    It’s late and my memory is failing me, so I’ll ask if anyone has any more ideas and examples of the extraordinary and remarkable?

    Disclosure: I work for Bauer Media, which has a large portfolio of magazines in the UK. Nothing here indicates any projects that I know of. Any original ideas written in the comments remain the property of the author – however, if someone does come up with an amazing idea, it’s likely you might get an email from me. If you’d rather express your idea in private, please do email me at thewayoftheweb at

    Back from a business event with some new inspiration…

    I’ve just got back from a business event, and meeting some really cool people and hearing about some really cool things. Everyone agreed not to report or blog about any of the topics discussed to allow openess at the event, but I will say that there are loads of great things going on in the near future.

    What I can talk about are two of the things that really struck me on my trip home.

    1. I really need to kit myself out more effectively for the ‘digital nomad‘ role on trips. I’ve held off getting a smartphone for various reasons, but I’m more and more convinced about how much easier it will make my life. The other tool I’m really interested in is a netbook of some description. Notetaking etc is far more efficient when I can type away on something small and unobtrusive, whether it’s an Asus or one of the netbooks being launched by other manufacturers.

    2. Amongst all the cool things happening in the wide world of the web, it’s sometimes easy for me to forget to mention some of the great work I’m involved with. I’ve tended to avoid blogging too much about my day job in detail, because I don’t want things I write to be coloured by whether I’ve had a good or bad day at work, or to refer to things I can’t discuss in full because of business reasons. But at the same time, I definitely want to mention things like Tim on Car Magazine not only encouraging the start of live review blogging from the road test of the new Ferrari California,  but also using Twitter to update with the latest news from the test.

    I was out of the office on Friday when the liveblogging began, so I can’t reel off the facts and figures to show whether it drove a huge amount of inbound links or visitors to the site – but what i do know is that it’s a great example of using the most approrpiate tools to convey the excitement and thrill of being a journalist lucky enough to test a Ferrari.

    Worth repeating?

    Writing about how the election coverage on Twitter and C-Span points to the future of media coverage, I came up with a little gem that I thought might be worth repeating for any of you who don’t crossover to my microblogging blog,

    ‘aggregation of sources of information provides a starting point for a media company to add its own expertise and reason to provide something of value.‘

    That’s it really. A mainstream media source can’t just aggregate content. Anyone can do that and the winners are decided by those who obtain a reasonable community and audience. And there’s already plenty of people out there, from Yahoo Buzz to Digg, to Mixx, to Sphinn, to

    But by aggregating and adding interpretation, it not only creates dynamic changing content, but actually opens up and highlights the expertise that a good journalist can bring on top of raw information. One of the mistakes we’ve continued to make in mainstream media is to underplay how good many journalists are at going beyond raw data, and the myraid ways in which they add value to it.

    I’ve long believed it, but not managed to sum it up quite so succinctly before. And it’s not a new idea for plenty of notable people, e.g. Scott Karp, Jay Rosen, Pat Thornton (still no relation!), Howard Owens, Jeff Jarvis, David Cushman. And there are many, many more people I could name, and I’m sure that’s just a small proportion of a collective wisdom which suggests numbers and expertise big enough to hopefully break out of the social media echo chamber. And we can see it with the adoption in growing ways by a small number of titles (I mentioned the LA Times and The Guardian, here). Now we’re adding C-Span to the list.

    Newspapers can do the web if they want to…

    I’d just finished reading a very good post by my colleague Dave Cushman on the death spiral of newspapers and how to avoid extinction in the online world. I think he’s totally on the money about the two key missed opportunities of the print industry (Missing the quality advantage and missing the R&D advantage), and I agree there’s a slim but closing doorway of opportunity for those brave enough to make the change in the face of falling profits and a global credit crunch.

    And in a wonderful bit of coincidence, my RSS feeds pulled in Mindy McAdams moments later, pointing to the winners of the Society of News Design multimedia design competition.

    Both of the Gold Awards (See full details of all winners) went to the New York Times for two pieces which really demonstrate the power of online reporting and design, and the advantage a different thought process can bring.

    The Crane Collapse in Manhattan shows brilliantly how animation and design can really add to the understanding of an event unfolded, particularly for anyone not familiar with how cranes work. Meanwhile Climbing Kilimanjaro is beautifully simple, using graphics and video for a personal account with a real personal touch.

    The lesson isn’t that online journalism has to always include amazing graphics and design (but they help!). The lesson is that a different approach and understanding of the online world leads to a huge amount of success. Something which some of my colleagues have started utilising with great results, and something which is the norm amongst the most popular content sites (newspapers, blogs, and anything else) on the web.

    I want great writing. I want great images. I want great video. I want great conversations. But I only want any of those things when they’re relevant to me and the need I have at that moment.

    A request to all journalists writing about Twitter and microblogs

    If you’re writing about Twitter, Plurk, Pownce, Jaiku, etc, then register an account and spend some time before your article (and ideally afterwards).

    Otherwise, and I’m not naming names, but you look like an arse.

    Twitter shakes the ground under major news websites: How they have to adapt

    It’s happened again. Yet again, an earthquake has occurred, this time in the U.S. – and yet again I found out about it from Twitter as it happened, rather than from one of the news websites minutes later. In fact, I’d even reported on it, and uploaded an image from Twitter to 140Char (Now available at ) before the BBC website had any coverage.

    And when the BBC does cover it, look at the lack of any responses. Now compare that to the sheer amount of updates which occurred on Twitter, even during the quake itself.

    As microblogging sites increase and users can upload almost instantly from mobiles, news websites need to respond in a far more proactive way. I know the BBC is UK based, but even American media like CNN were apparently late to the party.

    For a while news websites have had increased competition, particularly from prominent blogs, but they still had the resources to be the first point for news, and the first place people headed for if they wanted to upload pictures and videos. One significant early stage of Citizen Journalism was the London Underground bombing in July 2005. But now people already have significant networks and reach to share thoughts, images, and video incredibly quickly with a potentially large circle of people without needing the news portal to distribute it. In fact, during 9/11, when traffic brought news websites to a halt, I was ignoring the television to use Instant Messaging and forums to chat with friends in the U.S and at large news organisations to find out what was happening.

    And if Twitter or similar tools become mainstream, breaking news is over. You might still get a few minutes grace on embargoed content before it’s replicated throughout the world, but reacting to something just happening? By the time your assigned staff reporter is taking notes, or your Web Producer has been woken up, Twitter users around the world (Tweeple) are already reacting.

    As far as I can see, there are a few options still left:

    1. Stop autofeeding your late news to Twitter. Particularly when we already know about the earthquake, and it’s been on your website for ages. It highlights that you haven’t bothered understanding how it works. And it isn’t the first time. Earthquakes in China and the UK, Heath Ledger’s death…you got beaten before and you’ll get beaten again.

    2. Do make sure all your reporters have decent mobile phones. And can update straight to a Twitter account without worrying about grammar, subbing, or waiting until you have a story to link to on your main website. It’s not about driving traffic, it’s about breaking news. That’s what journalism is about. Get back your reputation for breaking news, and people will respond. And then when you do release an in-depth analysis on the website, and aggregate information, you’ll have an audience which responds.

    3. Start aggregating Twitter onto your site. It takes two seconds to set up a Twitter Search result. Put a space in your news template for RSS feeds, and use them to plug Twitter in as soon as something happens. Start collating all the notable Tweets, and speaking to the people behind them. You’ll get responses far quicker than making your reporter get out of bed.


    1. While your print product is already falling, and you’re coming to terms that things are changing a bit more quickly, microblogging takes away one of the major selling points of a major news company. You no longer have scoops, and because you’ve cut back to save costs in an uncertain time, you don’t have the staff or resources to file in-depth analysis and responses to breaking news quick enough to beat experts on blogs, and aggregators.

    Don’t stop evolving halfway out of the swamp.

    Not a cheerful post perhaps, but the internet evolves faster than any previous form of communication. It took a good 10 years or so for the real effect on the media, and the decline of print and television to be felt to the point major corporations and companies got scared and started really responding. But while the slow pace of change happens within the organisation, outside the pace of change is far quicker – and it’s always happening. There is no single answer to maintaining a sizeable presence on the internet unless it is to become an organisation that can respond quickly and efficiently to new challenges on a monthly basis – even if it means ripping up your website and starting again! Halfway measures will satisfy less and less people. And they’ll definitely be uploading their complaints in 140 characters.

    Edit: Turns out the LA Times is running Twitter in a Technology article highlighting how well it works for news, which you can see here. Strange then, it isn’t integrated into their general news coverage? The Guardian putting Twitter on blogs is again, a tiny, tiny step in the right direction, but it’s a start I guess – even if it isn’t working at the moment!