Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Social Media and the News

Last month Peter Horrocks the new head of BBC Global News told his new journalists to to use social media as a primary source of information.
"This isn't just a kind of fad from someone who's an enthusiast of technology. I'm afraid you're not doing your job if you can't do those things. It's not discretionary"

In instructing his researchers to use Twitter and RSS readers as essential tools for gathering news, the BBC is accepting that technology is changing the way journalism works and Aunty is obviously keen to keep pace with developments. To ignore social media is to ignore some great online resources.

Its therefore only a further mind-step away to consider what the next phase of social media and news is and one such step would be the Social Media Newsroom. By this, I don't mean the same dozen hacks all sat around re-inventing stories and perspectives (or a Pulitzer for the best Tweet), I mean a constant quorum of independent writers, freelancers and bloggers who are loosely attached to a central hub that curates content and provides greater impact than the individuals alone. This content is then pushed out via the same channels it is collected by, but with: views, additional information, further context, insight and other integrated data (e.g. linked government statistics, etc.). This is then all published to a central source (e.g. the newspaper's website) where it is further enhanced by comments, updates and feedback.

The Internet is now the only real distribution channel for a lot of newspapers who can no longer afford to publish their paper-based version. Peter Horrocks is correct to adopt this approach for his journalists now. Those that don't follow the best practices of social media may see their brands further marginalized online.
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