Archive for the Journalism Category

Twitter for Elections Coverage

Posted in Events, How To Series, Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, Solutions, television on October 29, 2010 by James Rowe

United States Mid-Term Elections are next week and  social media takes on a greater role than two years ago in the Presidential election.  It can be said President Barack Obama is the first POTUS to have used social media in a political campaign.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs leverages social media for his news briefings.  Gibbs uses 140-character jargon to solicit questions; a version of crowdsourcing.  His management style answers just one tweeted query on YouTube.

Civics is sociology and sociology benefits from tools of social media.  What creative utility have you considered for online social networks?

Whitney Matthews, online editor for the Lawrence Journal-World, offers a plan to use Twitter for election coverage; she writes for Poynter Online.  Matthews’ post has four points:

  1. Make a plan
  2. Get a local hashtag
  3. Tweet poll checks
  4. Add tweets to your website

Politicians and media covering them make excellent use of Twitter and other social networks.  This is the year of social media according to researchers such as Gartner, Edison and Nielsen.  Now is also the occasion we are expected to learn or begin to make money with social media according to a number of studies.

ABC News plans to anchor election night coverage from network headquarters in New York City and Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, CA.   ABC teams up with Facebook for elections coverage.  Social media for American elections is reality.

Here we’ve offered examples of using the big two social networks; Twitter and Facebook.  However there are others and more ways to use online tools to cover voting.  Google gets social with its elections center.  The search engine provides four services for voters:

  1. Polling place locations
  2. Registration instructions
  3. Ballot information
  4. State and local election office contact information

The question remains – how are you using social networks, new media and traditional media to serve voters of the United States this election?

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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New Media News Presentation

Posted in Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, Products, Solutions on October 1, 2010 by James Rowe

Burt Herman writes an opinion piece for the New York Times.  His words in the Times come immediately after announcing a new venture at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco.  WTF is Burt Herman and what is his new venture?

Herman calls himself entrepreneurial journalist and his new venture is Storify.  I think he has the coolest personal website I have seen.  Let’s begin with his NYT article “New Media Trust Sources.”

The entrepreneur discusses the megaphone everyone has with an Internet connection.  The people who are the new competition or ally to traditional (sometimes referred to as “old”) media.  In this decade the power to inexpensively reach global audiences burst into being.  Herman provides a new tool with Storify.

He points out in the Times piece:

“This democratization of media means anyone can reach out and find others who share their vision, regardless of geographic boundaries. Causes can spread at the speed of light, and “go viral” as they are shared on social networks.”

The “democratization” has exponentially created the same noise as cable television’s numerous channels.  So the audience is frustrated trying to find information that meets their needs among new and old media types competing for their valuable and short attention.

So far technology has failed to discover a way to filter noise and help people get to information they want.  Over the next two weeks Broadcast Newsroom Computing will present a couple new technologies answering the need.  The first is Storify which is perhaps best described as a noise filtering tool.

Herman defines new noise filters as curators; humans who package information in a consumable form and present it like paintings in a modern art museum. Let me lift another entire paragraph from Herman’s opinion.

“…a new class of gatekeepers has arisen, people whose reputations are built on their ability to highlight relevant information to their audiences. We are still looking for the right word to call these new gatekeepers, but so far “curator” is what appears most appropriate.”

He writes at the heart of the new approach is social media where people congregate based on shared interests.  Storify is a utility to gather information of common interest and present in a playlist fashion.  So I created a Storify story on social media business cases as example of both new medium and the new tool.  Here’s the link to the story.

There you have it; Herman’s new venture Storify and new approach to presenting information in the new decade.  Can I write “new” again?  Maybe next time when BNC reports on another such tool for gathering news and presenting it based on audience preference.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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Driving Audience to Traditional Media

Posted in Breaking News, Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, RTNDA on September 24, 2010 by James Rowe

The cinders outside of Boulder, CO, scene of recent wildfires, have burned out, but lessons to learn remain.  The editor of “Lost Remote,” Steve Safran writes stations and newspapers in Boulder did a good job of covering the fires but their best coverage was not on their websites.

The website editor made a substantial point during breaking coverage of the Colorado fires.  A point many news executives may have missed regarding how to exploit the huge increase this year in the use of social media.  Safran wrote about the wildfires:

“…the real news is on the station’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where moment by moment updates are flying.”

As a reporter, I spent decades in the field covering breaking news; natural disasters and all.  Traditional media has tremendous experience covering developing events.  Social media and user generated content are changing newsroom practices though.

Mainstream media has to break the circle of wagons and use the power of new media to deliver news and drive viewers, readers and listeners to traditional media for long form reporting.  New thinking has to begin in editorial meetings and travel to the assignment desk and into the production process.

Just as news executives plan teases, bumps, graphics, etcetera; they need to plan new media status updates for Facebook, Twitter, and their websites.  Here’s a suggestion from Safran, who wrote for the Radio, Television, Digital News Association blog.

“…whenever there’s a big event in your  community, snap up the Twitter name.  The media outlets should have snapped up and used it as a dedicated feed.  Instead, they put the information on their standard feed.”

He argues the name of the event draws a larger audience.  A station’s website can use a widget to aggregate the stream of topic related tweets.  You can use lists and hashtags as well to gather user generated information readers and viewers will understand is unsubstantiated.  With the station’s branded Twitter account direct the audience to your website, where they’ll collect all sorts of information from users and reporters and learn about your station’s coverage.  “If it’s good enough for social media,’ Safran says, ‘it’s good enough for regular news.”  I second his advice on branding and placing user generated content in context.  Recent studies affirm traditional media is still the most trusted source of information.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC


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News 3.0

Posted in Internet, Journalism, Management, new media, television on September 15, 2010 by James Rowe

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press releases a 145-page study every news director in the United States of America must read. The director of the Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Tom Rosenstiel, suggests we call the findings “News 3.0.” The Pew report is titled “Americans Spending More Time Following the News.” Download it and set aside a lot of time for an education on news consumption habits gleaned from telephone interviews with more than three thousand Americans in June of this year.

There are more ways available for people to get news and the report indicates because of the plethora of sources more Americans follow the news. Television still leads in consumption and radio and newspapers are ahead of Internet news sources according to research. However, Rosenstiel’s commentary, in the report’s conclusion, argues “the best way to understand what is occurring today with the way people interact with the news and technology is to think of it as the end of our digital childhood.”

In a report from Pew Internet & American Life Project in the first quarter of this year on “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer” researchers write “the Internet and mobile technologies are at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing.”

The March, 2010 report sampled less than 23-hundred American adults to determine a “revolutionary shift” in how news is consumed has taken place over the last five years. The research claims social networks have an increasing role in how Americans receive news information. Online news consumption falls behind newspapers (third in the contest for consumption). The earlier study indicates three fourths of Americans gathering news online do so through email or social network posts.

What does it all mean? Back to the interpretation from Rosenstiel – Pew studies present “signs of a new phase, perhaps even a new era, in the acquisition and consumption of news.”

Heads up news executives, it’s time to pay attention to the work of the Pew Center and download and study their voluminous reports.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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New Tools Old Practices

Posted in Breaking News, Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production on September 7, 2010 by James Rowe

In newsroom management, years ago, I stepped up to the task of teaching the entire news staff how to use personal computers; newly introduced as their desktop workstations. One of the memories of the period was brought to my attention over ten years later when an anchor commented among his cherished possessions was the certificate I awarded him for completing a course in newsroom computing.

He was the journalist who stood up in class in anger and exclaimed “I’m 50-years old, why do I have to learn this now?” I asked him to relax and take break and return when he was prepared to resume. He did and he learned. He made me proud these years since because he confirmed my strategy to educate the staff and reward them for growing.

Using new tools is a matter of survival for journalists. I notice radio reporters learn to edit video, television news people edit and print journalists use audio for more than notes. Broadcast Newsroom Computing writes often about the blurring of skills among old divisions of discipline in news production. It is a subject of continuing growth.

The changes are evidenced in the verbose techcrunch report on Adam Penenberg’s new journalism. The New York University professor returned to daily reporting briefly to break a story traditional media overlooked. Fourteen paragraphs deep into the techcrunch post blogger Paul Carr tells how Penenberg used Twitter to bring to public attention a story other media, new and traditional, missed. The professor forced everyone into “scoop recovery” mode.

Carr writes Penenberg may have developed a breaking news procedure for new journalism in the style he tweeted about Ford Motor Company’s $131- (m) million dollar settlement with the family of Brian Cole. Cole was a New York Mets’ prospect killed in the rollover accident of his Ford Explorer.

Penenberg used old wire service procedure for breaking news. He released short blurbs of information; each adding another layer to the story. The educator’s method was the same way wire services released confirmed information until a write thru of facts could be delivered. The practice allowed broadcasters, in particular, to get word out immediately and build suspense in anticipation of a full report.

The urgent bell rings on wire machines are long gone, replaced by beeps and now, beyond wire services, audible Twitter alerts on workstations to announce breaking news from alert journalists.


James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

Battlefront New Media – A Patch Invasion Is Underway

Posted in Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, RTNDA on August 21, 2010 by James Rowe

A classic David and Goliath story is presented in a Radio Television Digital News Association post on America Online’s entry into local journalism. The American broadcast news association’s Communicator page headlines with a report from Steve Safran, Editor of Lost Remote.

Safran writes “Patch is moving in…it’s time to pay attention.” He lays out the conflict between local newspaper, radio and television websites and AOL’s effort to remake itself. AOL’s Patch has 100 local sites in operation at this writing and a plan for 500 before year’s end.

The RTDNA story gives notice AOL has “deep pockets” and is going after market share local media has to reclaim as their own. Safran warns Patch has designs on the territory owned by local outlets and advises there is still time to thwart a “Philistine” like invasion. However he cautions local “Davids” to get their staffs, stones and slingshots ready for confrontation.

The “How You Can Beat Patch” report is one of the more informative posts I’ve read on the RTDNA site. The strategy is as old as media itself and was once a condition of licensing by the United States’ Federal Communications Commission. It’s refreshing to see a return of tried and proven practices almost 30-years since the tactics were abandoned.

This is the pitch made by Tewksbury, Massachusetts Patch editor William (Bill) Gilman and it presents the Patch battle plan.

Tewksbury Patch is one of AOL’s newest sites. Obviously video is part of the Patch local strategy. To counter AOL Safran counsels local media websites to “use the inexpensive multimedia tools available to them to report, constantly, via a river of news.”

Similar advice is presented often and previously on Broadcast Newsroom Computing. So, I’ll repeat get local and get social. Local media profits by being good citizens serving the audience what they need as much as what you believe they desire.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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Bring Back Investigative Reporting

Posted in Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production on July 29, 2010 by James Rowe

The combativeness between the United States Department of Defense and WikiLeaks is witness of demand for lucid investigative reporting. Traditional media appears to be stumbling over itself trying to play catch up with the whistle blower website located in Australia. Let’s understand wiki technology and its pitfalls before lauding the work of Julian Assange, who in my humble opinion is as transparent as marble.

New media like wikis and tools like smart phones metamorphose news reporting. These new instruments make investigative journalism easier and more treacherous at the same time. Watchdog journalism requires fearless custodians with tremendous ethics.

A Columbia Journalism Review article applauds WFAA TV in Dallas, Texas for its commitment to fund investigative journalism. Again IMHO, traditional media must welcome the expense of watchdog journalism to maintain audience lest the likes of WikiLeaks assumes the role of freedom of information in a democratic society. Local television and newspapers and their websites have the brand to garner trust. Local media also has the resources.

Every journalist should own a smart phone of the brand they choose. The handheld computers have high definition point and shoot cameras and video recorders. They are portable and readily at hand when a reporter stumbles upon news worthy events. The devices also offer the ability to be stealthy.

Wireless transmission of text, photos, video and audio permit 21st century journalists capacity to truly deliver breaking news. The speed of reporting new technology offers is powerful and requires experienced journalist’s oversight to guard truth and life. I believe the maturity of aged investigative journalists at Belo’s Dallas television property contribute to the quality of the station’s watchdog journalism.

Senior journalistic empiricism, new tools, new media, training, commitment, time and money are all required for investigative reporting to return and truly serve the audience. More is available than WikiLeaks to transform watchdog journalism.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC