Name some effective ways for journalists to use social media (no more than 250 words).
Journalists can effectively use social media by maintaining detailed yet focused profiles, regularly managing and updating their digital platforms, carefully selecting what to post and utilizing the full potential of tools available.
This can help journalists find new ideas, trends, and sources, connect with readers, attract eyeballs to their work, and create, develop and build their brands.
The Twitter handle should be the shortest recognizable and memorable name possible. The profile should be distinctive, telling viewers exactly what the journalist does. It should include an email address and possibly phone numbers to help sources and other people connect with you through these media.
Journalists should follow as many people as possible – those whose work they like, other journalists and prospective employers — to see new ideas, stories, and links.
Tweets should be less than 130 characters, well-spaced and only convey what is useful, relevant, timely, credible, informative or entertaining. Manual retweeting helps building a relationship with the person whose work you’re endorsing.
LinkedIn profiles should be complete and updated. Invitations should be specific about how the inviter knows the person invited. Recommendations from supervisors help. Searching for people who earlier worked in specific organizations can unearth potential sources more ready to talk than current employees.
Journalists must remove unwanted posts from their Facebook walls, untag themselves from unflattering photographs, keep only one profile and create a Facebook page as a professional interface. They should be careful about the posts they “like,” and can create lists of contacts to help prioritize.
Over a one-week period, you might send out dozens of tweets. Please cut and paste a representative sample of 10 tweets you actually sent out any time after Thursday, Aug. 4. These should reflect the kind of tweets you send on a regular basis.
Please identify five journalists’ Twitter accounts that you have started following after Thursday, Aug. 4. List each handle and describe, in a sentence why you are following that person.
Five of the several journalists who I have been following since August 4 are:
a) Sanjoy Narayan, Editor-in-chief of the Hindustan Times, India’s second-largest English daily. He is one of the best music critics I have come across, and is also my boss back in India. Twitter handle: @argus48
b) Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor, The Hindu, India’s third-largest English daily. I find his reporting on international affairs the most credible among Indian journalists. Twitter handle: @svaradarajan
c) Bill Grueskin, Dean, Columbia Journalism School. He is my Dean, but the reason he’s on this list is the online business of journalism lecture that is a part of this series of assignments, and which I found absolutely brilliant. Twitter handle: @BGrueskin
d) Rasheed Kidwai, senior journalist with The Telegraph, India: He is a former colleague, who I have found one of the most authoritative voices on the Indian National Congress, India’s ruling party that has dominated the national political scene from before Independence in 1947. Twitter handle: @rasheedkidwai
e) Sree Sreenivasan, Dean, Student Affairs, Columbia Journalism School: I never quite appreciated the role social media can play in helping journalists professionally, till I came across Dean Sreenivasan’s work, read his social media guide, and listened to this lecture – and I hope to learn more by following him. Twitter handle: @sree
Name some ways your use of Facebook might change now that you are in J-school (no more than 150 words).
Like many others of my generation, I have till now largely viewed Facebook as a tool merely to connect with people – friends and professional acquaintances. I have on occasions used Facebook to reach out to otherwise inaccessible sources, and have regularly tried to direct traffic to my stories.
I had however, not thought seriously enough about the how a lack of strict caution on Facebook could hurt me professionally – while care and smart use could help me build, develop and nurture a brand.
I plan to regularly monitor my Facebook profile for photographs and posts, including spam, that I do not want on my account, but which I till now would have simply ignored. I will create lists to segregate contacts, prioritizing the lists to help me navigate any avalanche of messages.
I also plan to create a Facebook page which I want to use exclusively for professional work.
1) What are the elements of a defamation claim, whether it is libel (written) or slander (oral)?
A defamation claim accuses the defendant of communicating a factual inaccuracy about the plaintiff to a third person or to the public at large, potentially damaging the plaintiff’s reputation. The alleged inaccuracy must relate specifically to an individual or organization.
A statement of fact, however damaging to an individual or organization, cannot result in defamation. The onus of proving a statement to be false lies with the plaintiff in the US. In several other countries however, the defendant must establish that the statement under question is accurate.
The factual inaccuracy must be specifically about someone – an individual, group or organization. “Journalists are hacks,” for instance, is a sentence that cannot attract defamation because it is not targeted at any particular individual or organization.
The inaccuracy must hold the potential to damage the plaintiff’s reputation as is perceived by society at large. Hurting the sentiments of the plaintiff is not adequate ground for defamation.
The defendant has to also have published or communicated the inaccurate statement to at least one person other than the plaintiff for a defamation claim to hold. Defamation charges can accuse the defendant of libel, if the inaccurate, unflattering statement is made in writing – in the story or in any other written form – or of slander, if the statement is communicated orally to a third party.
Reporters can attract defamation even before their stories are finally published – if they make false, unflattering statements about someone to a third party.
2) If someone gives you her name and password to access her employer’s website, should you use that information to access the site?
No. Reporters should not use someone else’s electronic identification to gain access to information stored digitally. Pretending to be someone else on the internet is a violation of cyber laws, and can get reporters into trouble.
There is however nothing wrong in accessing any information or data in the online world without pretending to be someone else. Information can be accessed from websites if their security is so weak that no misrepresentation is required for the task. Journalists who cleverly guess web portals where organizations may have uploaded information that they later intend to make public, are also not guilty of any legal violations in accessing those online sites.
3) How much time should you give the subject of an article or video to comment before publication?
The time a reporter gives a source to respond to queries depends on specific situations, but the reporter must never allow the source to effectively dictate when the story is published.
It is usually best not to commit to hold a story for any specific number of days. The news organization may be in a position to access the required information from other sources before the first source responds, and may wish to publish the story which is now complete. Such a scenario leaves the reporter in a position where he ends up having misled the first source about when to expect the publication of the story.
4) What is the rule on reading back quotes to sources? (Something of a trick question)
There are no fixed rules about reading back quotes to sources. Some reporters do read back quotes to sources – while others don’t. If a reporter promises to read back quotes, he or she must do so.
Reporters who want to read back quotes should however do so immediately after the interview rather than later, when the source has a chance to reflect on any unintended consequences of his or her quote and may try and tweak it even though the initial quote was accurate.
Journalists must however never show the entire story to a source prior to publication. This gives other stakeholders represented in the story the impression that the reporter is biased as one source appears to have greater influence over the story as it will finally appear. Sources are also rarely good editors.
a) Name three trends that have significantly changed economic models for news organizations in the digital age. (no more than 500 words total)
“The times, they are a changing,” sang Bob Dylan almost five decades ago. Today, those words ironically ring true not just for “The Times” – as the New York Times is often referred to – but for every news organization, new research by Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism suggests.
The changes have largely been triggered by trends brought on by the digital age that have forced traditional news organizations to review financial models they followed for years.
A dramatic shift in users from print and broadcast to online platforms, the collapse of the aggregation model milked by traditional media organizations for years, and ever-increasing digital competition are three trends that stand out.
A recent study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press showed that 65 percent of people in the 18-29 age group use the Internet to access their news, leaving television and newspapers far behind. The Internet is also competing with newspapers for older eyeballs – 34 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 access their news online as compared to 38 percent newspaper readers, the Pew study found. An increasing number of users – as many as 47 percent American adults, according to a separate Pew study — are today accessing at least some news on smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
This shift in user choice of media platform has thrust new challenges upon news organizations. Print and broadcast organizations need to focus on their digital platforms. But online platforms can’t just transfer traditional revenue models on to the Internet, the Tow Center researchers found. Mc Clatchy Co., the third-largest newspaper organization in the US, witnessed a 17.3 percent increase in unique online viewers in 2010, but only a 2.4 percent increase in digital revenue for the year.
Traditional news organizations successfully used aggregation as a revenue generator for decades. By offering different readers the content they were interested in, on a single broadcast or newspaper platform, these organizations could pitch a massive market to potential advertisers.
In the digital age, however, users can access the specific content they are interested in, at the click of a mouse, without needing to purchase an entire newspaper or watch a news program. Online, advertisers pay for the number of eyeballs a particular page attracts – instead of the aggregated readership or viewership of newspapers and broadcasters.
The low investment and marketing costs involved with starting and running online media platforms has also led to an exponential increase in digital content providers, ending decades of monopoly or oligopoly enjoyed by traditional broadcast and newspaper groups. The increased competition lowers advertising rates. Advertisers also no longer depend solely on traditional news organizations to get their message across to consumers. Online platforms like Google and Facebook, with large user bases, have taken away some of the advertising budget of firms that newspapers and broadcasters traditionally benefited from. Craiglist, a centralized network of online communities, has irreparably damaged classified advertisements as the biggest source of revenue for newspapers.
b) List up to three advantages that a new, digitally based news company has over a traditional print or broadcast organization. (no more than 250 words)
Lower investment and marketing costs, freedom from the constraints of space and time for content delivery, and the relative ease of creating focused audiences and tracking viewership are key advantages new, digital organizations have over traditional news firms.
The capital expenditures required to launch broadcast and print companies do not shackle new digital media companies, which don’t need tall antennae over hills or large printing presses. Digital news platforms can effectively use aggregation – including packaging content drawn from multiple other news sources — to increase their revenue, as the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report have shown, a new report by Columbia University’s Tow Centre for Digital Journalism argues. Digital media firms need a smaller staff than print or broadcast companies to put out the same volume of content. Online platforms also save on marketing costs since their content is publicized for free by users who share links with others through email or networking sites like Twitter or Facebook.
A newspaper can offer only a certain number of pages, on which advertisements and news content must be shared. Television programs similarly have only limited time within which they must squeeze in both news and advertisements. Digital platforms face no such restrictions.
Using sophisticated usage-tracking services like Omniture or Chartbeat, digital firms can track usage patterns much more accurately than traditional platforms, and in real time. This allows online media firms to create focused audiences by providing targeted content, far more easily than traditional media organizations can.
c) List up to three advantages that a traditional print or broadcast organization has over a new, digitally based news company. (no more than 250 words)
Despite the assault on their bastions by new, digital news firms, traditional print or broadcast organizations retain some key advantages over their online rivals.
The relatively greater time and attention readers and viewers devote to print and broadcast news sources, the challenge of matching advertising supply and demand online, and the failure of most digital platforms to provide users meaningful advertisements are among these advantages.
People typically spend over 30 minutes reading their daily newspaper, while they spend less than 4 minutes on a particular internet page, two independent studies have indicated.
Digital media firms face a tougher challenge than print or broadcasting counterparts, in trying to predict the demand for advertising they are likely to attract, since the traffic they draw varies dramatically based on the content they put out. This difficulty often forces digital platforms to undersell advertisement space. The Guardian witnessed a spike in online viewership during the days it was breaking stories on the phone-hacking controversy at the News of the World. But it had already sold its advertisement space for rates lower than what it could have commanded given the traffic its website attracted. This mismatch in demand and supply makes online platforms depend on cheap, “remnant” advertisements when the demand outstrips supply.
Barring non-news online groups like Google or Facebook, few digital platforms have succeeded in tailoring advertising to what the user is interested in – leaving them at a disadvantage compared to traditional print and broadcasting organizations.
This will be the platform where I will be posting some of my work as a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism over the coming few weeks. I hope you like what you read.
Here are some suggestions for your first post.
- You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
- Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting page you read on the web.
- Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.