Small Screen, Small News

Our social media journey has led us astray to the world of the small screen. Let’s look into the ways in which TV news has shrunk in order to keep up with social media.


I’d like to bring you back to my first post Incredible Shrinking Journalism. Here I discussed exactly that; how Twitter is condensing our news. What I found particularly interesting however, is the similarity between Twitter and news tickers (or crawlers) on TV news and the way in which both of these new ways of sharing news has ended up shrinking it.

It’s a well known fact that people no longer gather around the newsstand to read and discuss current events. Television changed that age-old tradition. But now, with advances in technology, we do not simply sit in front of the TV and gorge ourselves on news; we are constantly bombarded with news tickers, breaking news, videos and sometimes images that skew the meaning of the content.

News tickers are those sliding grabs of text that give you the gist of the main headlines in a few words. CNN Executive Vice President and General Manager Teya Ryan wholeheartedly supports the use of news tickers on the CNN Network as they add news value (Romson: 2002, p26).

When comparing news tickers to Twitter, we can see that both of these ways of accessing news facilitate the instant dissemination of short news fragments. This is sometimes referred to as ambient journalism; when lightweight and easy to digest bits of information enable the public to maintain a mental model of news (Hermida: 2010, p297).

New technologies have made it possible for people to access news on a variety of platforms. This in turn has changed the grammar and function of the news (Thurman & Lupton: 2008, p439). This multiplatform usage with regards to news has made people accustomed to digesting those small snippets of news and made it easy for people to multitask when watching the news.

But news tickers are not the saving grace of all our journalistic needs “They are bad journalism when they are dated, incomplete, alarmist or misleading” (McClellan & Kerschbaumer: 2001, p16), and though this point comes down to the integrity of the news organization, it is hard, when considering from the audience’s perspective, to judge whether a ticker is reliable, up to date, or even accurate. The reason for this also is because there isn’t enough word space to give context to the information, and often news tickers are written to maintain the viewers attention and can be misleading.

To me, the news ticker is something to pay attention to when the sports report comes on. But I think news tickers are to be taken in moderation, just as with every healthy diet, a wide variety of sources are recommended.

*Image – Fox News Ticker that ran after the death of Michael Jackson (Image – June 25, 2009 Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images North America)


References
Hermida, A., 2010. Twittering the News. Journalism Practice. 4(3), p297-208.

McClellan, S. & Kerschbaumer, K., 2001. Tickers and Bugs: Has TV Gotten Way Too Graphic? Broadcasting & Cable. 131(50), p16.

Romson, A., 2002. Ticker Embedded In News. Broadcasting & Cable. 132(31), p26

Thurman, N. & Lupton, B., 2008. Convergence Calls. Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Technologies. 14(4), p439-455

You’re Being Followed

Well, not literally. Maybe you’re not taken in by your fellow tweeps and their by the minute tweets. We all seem to look at Twitter as a social networking tool. I, however, think it is far more conniving than this; Twitter is in fact, going to take over the world.

(A Tweep is a person that Tweets)

Generally I stay away from “conspiracy theories”, but apparently the new twitter is basically stalking you everywhere you go. Personally I find this incredibly intriguing for the onus of usage has been removed from the user, and turned the cute little Twitter bird into a psychopathic stalker. Here is the new Twitter ad that reveals the creepy side of social media.

After watching the video, you can tell I have been a tad sarcastic. Twitter is everywhere. There is no denying it. Any article I read online is proceeded by a Tweet or Share on Facebook thumbnail, and more often than not, these are the articles that are criticising social media.
What I would like to argue is that Twitter is taking over the news, but it’s ok. “News is increasingly reduced to its most elemental form” (Scherer: 2010), and like all things this has its positives and negatives.

The Positives
New technologies have compartmentalized the way people access news. This combined with the fact that many feel as though they are “time starved” (Kolodzy: 2009, p.p 11) creates the perfect breeding ground for a more simplistic form of information. Twitter’s news updates of 140 characters are perfect for those who feel they don’t have enough time, and also helps with the information overload stigma of mass media.
We’ve all heard of instances where stories have broken over Twitter (to name a few: NY Hudson River plane crash, Steve Job’s health issues), and these are the kinds of stories that spread virally so easily because Twitter is fast and free (Qualman: 2009, p.p 171).

The Downfall
The problem with accessing this fast and free information is, as discussed in previous posts, the issue of reliability. Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC described Twitter as “a very fast, but not entirely reliable news agency” (BBC News: 2009). He also outlines an example of when Twitter has been inaccurate as with the Mumbai Terror Attacks.

Here is another lesser known example:
Statue of Liberty Tornado Photo on Twitter Dupes Media

75 million people visited the Twitter site in January of this year, there are generally around 1.2 billion tweets a month (TechCrunch: 2010). This is a significant enough amount of users to be concerned about the inaccuracy of Twitter. But also saying that, it’s hard to blame Twitter for all the wrongdoings and inaccuracy of journalism, because many news organizations have also been forced to publish corrections to their stories.
After all this, what makes Twitter unique is that it is everywhere in the sense that it can update you on anything, where ever you are. It’s fast and free. Sometimes the most simple answer is the best answer.

References

Cellan-Jones, R., 2009. Twitter and a Classic Picture. BBC News [Online] 16 January. Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/01/twitter_and_a_classic_picture.html> [Accessed 25 September, 2010].

Kolodzy, J., 2006. Convergence Journalism. UK: Rowman & Littlefield

Qualman, E., 2009. How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business. QLD: John Wiley and Sons.

Scherer, M., 2009. TIME Blogger: The Politico Is Transforming Our Approach To News. Time [Online] 15 March. Available at: <http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/03/15/time-blogger-the-politico-is-transforming-our-approach-to-news/> [Accessed 25 September, 2010].

Schonfeld, E., 2010. Nearly 75 Million People Visited Twitter’s Site In January (commScore). TechCrunch. [Online] 16 February. Available at: <http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/16/twitter-75-million-people-january/> [Accessed on 25 September, 2010].

Hitchhikers Guide to the Blogosphere

This is going to get a little tricky. I’m going to take you through the world of blogging and its impact on journalism, and yes, it’s going to get a bit nasty.


There is no backing away from that warm feeling we all get when serendipitously stumbling across a great blog. You wonder where it has been all your life. You go through the motions, and as a reader, you get to know the writer, and become accustomed to the inner workings of their day.
But with a plethora of blogs available in the blogosphere, media censorship is vastly diluted and the information you read in blogs is noticeably different to information accessed through ordinary news outlets. This stretches out further to the very fact that opinions are actually stated in blogs, where as with standard journalism, media policies prohibit opinions from being present in many pieces (Farah: 2010).
So basically, blogs offer a single persons view on their desired subject. They are honest, open and deal with issues of all natures. However, the Achilles Heel of the blogosphere comes down to the dark cloud of reliability. Some social networking resources such as WikiLeaks are peer reviewed and trusted for their reliability. When WikiLeaks released the Afghan War Diary, stories broke worldwide and without a certain amount of respect, this would not have happened.

Unfortunately, blogs aren’t peer reviewed, the information you read on blogs is opinionated, may not always be fact-checked, and if the fact is true that the death of journalism has been overexagerrated, people may be putting too much faith in blogs too soon (Christensen: 2010).
So it seems that some of the positives of advocating blogs, can be turned into quite stark negatives. So why are blogs read ritually by so many people? Invoke Solutions conducted some market research on what social media are the most trust worthy. Blogs are seen as the most trust worthy and the reason for this is that, even if a blog is not accurately fact checked, the creator communicates with the readers instantly making the blog very personal to the reader (eMarketer: 2010).
I always thought that good quality, source/fact-checked journalism was what people wanted. Journalism 3.0: “Get Me Rewrite” written by Chris Rauber of the San Francisco Business Times states that people want to know what the journalist is thinking, that ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’ have merged into a new kind of journalism (2010), and this is why blogging has shot up so much in the popularity contest.

Next time we meet I will be discussing Twitter antics, and delve a little more into the downside of social networking and it’s impact on journalism.

References:
Chistensen, C, 2010. The Power of the Pen. The Prague Post, [online] 11 August. Available at: <http://www.praguepost.com/opinion/5328-the-power-of-the-pen.htm> [Accessed: 12 September, 2010]

eMarketer, 2010. What Makes Social Media Trustworthy? [online] 12 August. Available at:< http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007863> [Accessed: 12 September, 2010]
Farah, V, 2010. The Impact of Blogs on the News Industry. Helium, [online] 12 September. Available at: <http://www.helium.com/items/1927515-blogs-and-journalism-blogs-and-reporting-impact-of-blogs-news-industry-blogging-and-news-industry?page=2> [Accessed: 12 September, 2010]
Rauber, C, 2010. Journalism 3.0: “Get Me Rewrite”. San Francisco Business Times, [online] 11 September. Available at: <http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2010/09/journalism_30_get_me_rewrite.html>[Accessed: 12 September, 2010]

Quality Journalism: No Oxymoron Here.

With an increase in Twitter Journalism, there has also been an increase in the assumption that quality journalism no longer exists. But this isn’t so….

Before we delve into the social networking repertoire of ‘quality journalism’, we need to establish the very grey area of what quality actually means. According to Crikey reporter Stilgherrian, quality journalism is associated with investigative journalism and the reason why we have seen such a steep decline in this lately, is because it is expensive (Crikey: 2009).

So if quality journalism only means investigative journalism, why is news that is generated through social networking such as blogs and Twitter deemed as poor quality? After all, with newspapers estimated to be “irrelevant in Australia” by 2022 (inquisitr: 2010), there needs to be some kind of replacement for the antiquated journalistic type strewn across the pages of broadsheet newspapers.

Media futurist Ross Dawson sees the future of journalism as a series of social connections and good content. Investigative journalism will be ‘crowdsourced’, or in other words, outsourced by groups in the community (inquisitr: 2010). This drastic change in journalism does not change the quality of content, it just democratizes it.

We don’t only need to look to the future to imagine this, it’s already happening. There are increasing numbers of sites that offer community generated news, to name a few:

• Crikey – http://www.crikey.com.au/
• Huffington post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
• Drudge Report – http://www.drudgereport.com/
• Wikileaks – http://wikileaks.org/
• Minnpost – http://www.minnpost.com/

The benefits of accessing news through social networking outweigh the negatives: breaking news is broken by the minute, interviews can be conducted via social networking tools, quality is assured through instant feedback from readers, and the high traffic of many of the social networking sites is a good promotional tool for anyone’s articles (Read Write Web: 2008).

Personally I am all for these changes in journalism, which is ironic because these are the very changes that just may force me to change my field of study.

If you want to read further about Ross Dawson he will be speaking at the Future Forum conference in Sydney on the 26th August. He also has a really insightful blog that speaks of all things media:

http://rossdawsonblog.com/

References

Crikey, 2009. The Future of “Quality” Journalism: Lots of Questions, Few Answers. (Updated: April 9, 2009) Available at: Accessed on August 23, 2010
The Inquisitr, 2010. Wire: Death of Newspapers by 2022, says Leading Media Futurist. (Updated: August 23, 2010) Available at: Accessed on August 23, 2010
Read Write Web, 2009. How we use Twitter for Journalism. (Updated: April 25, 2009) Available at: Accessed on August 23, 2010

Incredible Shrinking Journalism

Yes people spend time on social networking sites, but this isn’t all bad. Rather than waiting for the person next to you on the bus to turn pages, you can always share news by tweeting and retweeting. Twitter has shrunk the information we seek; all news as we know it has been condensed to 140 characters and a new breed of enlightening has emerged known as Twitter Journalism.

Compact messages are being sent across oceans, through computers and mobiles all over the world, and this has brought about discussions on the quality of content. Nicholas Carr refers to this in his book “What the Internet is doing to Our Brains” and the way the Internet de-emphasizes the thought processes and concentration required to evaluate information.

Twitter requires no evaluation of content; tweets are succinct and often skip out words. If you follow a range of different people, tweets often have no pattern and little meaning. Carr explains this elegantly in his book:

“Once I was a scuba diver in a sea of words, now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski.”

Here is a link to his book review: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/books/review/Lehrer-t.html

Readers do not need to buy the paper or even visit news sites anymore. Twitter provides news at the click of the follow button. Here are some examples of the news providers you can follow on Twitter:

Personally, I follow a lot of news on Twitter, so the last thing I am trying to do is make it seem as though it is not a good service. But in regards to journalism, is it true that the quality of the information suffers, and the reader is not challenged to think? Or is Twitter breaking new ground with its leading tweets and its development of Twitter Journalism?

These are things I will discuss more in depth in future posts, but for now, here is a video that will show to you (in real time) the immense number of tweets that occur each second. It really is amazing to watch it from this perspective.

TweetDeck: Matrix Edition

Jesse Peters (z3334885)

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