Waiting for the big bang: the news & social media experiment

NEWS values remain the bedrock of what an editor decides should be published. Of course they do, at least for now.

But more and more desks must consider what kind of stories will appeal to their readerships, or communities at large, not just the ones deserving of journalistic prominence.

An article by Newsonomics.com publisher Ken Doctor on this very subject appeared in the Neinman Reports which makes for some refreshingly thought provoking reading.

I caught the full article thanks to a link from journalism.co.uk under it's headline 'The Changing Face of the News Editor in the World of Social Media'.

It concentrates on how the role of the news editor, or editor, as gatekeeper has evolved as it considers the whole ball park, not just the zones they would normally patrol.

The talk is of how they must now be prepared to collaborate with other content providers in order to best serve the needs not only of their readership, but to ensure their own content is circulated to as wide a cross section of the population as possible.

And the report from Doctor argues that journalists too have a responsibility not to do only what is asked of them, but to actively engage in the process voluntarily.

He states: 

"Journalists ought to be among those who embrace these challenges—make them part of what they think about and do every day, and have their experimentation go beyond their own participation as individuals in this social sphere. We’ll learn by trying new ways of doing what we’ve done with news, by putting ourselves visibly in the social media mix, and by using the emerging tools of daily communication in all aspects of our work. It’s not enough to watch from the sidelines or even to try to mimic what kids do."

And this notion that we are all involved in some kind of mass experiment is a good one, for we are. 

There are lots of great things happening with news and social media already, and there are lots of fantastic opportunities for developing news on the web. Some ideas will be massively successful while others will wither on the vine, but have been worthy of trying.

But three things are key to developing this understanding. 

  • Not being scared to try new things, even if it means making your mistakes in public; 
  • taking journalists and journalism with you, because if you can't convince your talent, how will you persuade your readers;
  • and investing in your product and the staff that go with it.

Ambitions are laudable. But without showing faith in them through necessary investment risk becoming laughable and in turn, makes the job of taking people on the journey that much more difficult.

Which will be crucial for any any organisation harbouring ambitions for the web. If you frustrate the needs of the talent you have too long, you will lose them to another team. 

And doesn't the same rule apply for readers too? Wait too long, will they not simply up sticks and look for their news elsewhere?

The science of news and the experiments with social media are all well and good. 

But we really do need a few more eureka moments along he way to help build the momentum. 


Categories: Blogs, Media philosophy & trends

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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