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Let’s take a look through some of my recent “favorites” on Twitter December 3, 2013

Posted by Eric Sandy in Social Media.
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I use the “favorite” icon on Twitter as a) a sort of bookmark for later perusal and b) much like Facebook’s “like,” which can effectively end a tedious social media conversation without having to just up and say, “Fuck off now, it’s been a pleasure.”

BUT I don’t often go back and review those favorites, which puts a damper on a).

SO I’m going to actually go do that right now and embed some of the stand-outs. I “favorited” them for a reason – likely to read the linked story or reflect on whatever was written – and I’d imagine that you, comrade, would enjoy them as well. Whatever they happen to be.


Dan Fletcher leaves Facebook and concedes that the company does not represent journalism March 21, 2013

Posted by Eric Sandy in Social Media.
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Facebook’s managing editor, Dan Fletcher, announced Wednesday that he’s leaving his post.

His role was strange to begin with, initially signalling to the industry that Facebook may be fancying itself a news op. That whole racket never panned out, however.

The medium is the message.

“I think the biggest mistake they made in bringing me on is this title,” he said, referring to the managing editor title for Facebook. It was misleading, he said.

The company “doesn’t need reporters,” Fletcher said, because it has a billion members who can provide content.

“You guys are the reporters,” Fletcher told the audience. “There is no more engaging content Facebook could produce than you talking to your family and friends.”

Nieman Lab staff offers #ISOJ takeaway April 25, 2012

Posted by Eric Sandy in Commentary, Social Media.
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(Ed. note: This is being crossposted from The Telescope @ Tumblr.)

Wow, what a fantastic roundup of insights from the recent International Symposium on Online Journalism…

The Nieman Lab article is a must-read in its entirety, but here are some points that really stood out to me:

“[Google’s Richard] Gingras said news companies spend too much time worrying about their home pages and not enough about their article pages. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if there comes a time when a media company opts not to have a homepage at all”

This is a very interesting concept. I’ve watched media companies invest a great deal of resources into their vertical blogs lately. (See examples at The New York Times and Buzzfeed.)

These are stunning outlets for niche audiences, complete with a churning well of content and a very direct design. Organizations should recognize the interest-driven nature of online news/content distribution. While verticals like the above links may not work well for all levels of media outlets, I think there’s a wellspring of opportunity for editorial staffs to explore.

The [Dallas] Morning News is trying to differentiate itself in two ways: By shifting its production to fit devices like tablets, and by shifting its reporting with a plan they call “PICA,” which stands for Perspective, Interpretation, Context and Analysis.

Here are two other very important points. It goes back to the mantra of “mobile, mobile, mobile” that’s plastered on the walls of editorial boardrooms. News orgs better prepare and devise ways of taking their content to the mobile platform. That will be a driving force both in editorial decision-making and ad revenues (Hmm… let’s hope).

Also, just a quick note: “Perspective, Interpretation, Context and Analysis” is a great little checklist for how to get the job done. PICA. Dig it.

On one last note, below I’ve embedded a slick presentation of data on Andy Carvin‘s social media sourcing methods from his Arab Spring reporting. The Nieman staff writes: “[H]is tweets served as a major amplifier of lesser-known sources.” That’s a big point in terms of international journalism.


The Gang’s All Here January 25, 2012

Posted by Eric Sandy in Commentary, Social Media.
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I wanted to use a quick quote from Zach Seward as a launching pad for a discussion about what social media gets right.

“Early morning is a really nice time on Twitter. As in a greasy spoon, there are regulars sitting in their assigned seats, people like David Wessel and Kelly Evans at the Journal, Jim Roberts at the Times, and Heidi Moore at Marketplace…”

Those words come from an interview with the news.me blog, as part of that website’s ongoing “Getting the News” series.

Source: Aaron Riddle, acriddle.com

It hearkens back to the notion of coffeehouses of the 17th and 18th centuries as forums for informal discussions of the day. This concept is nothing new, of course, but it’s interesting to note – especially as a news junkie who spends an inordinate amount of time reading and sharing news on Twitter (or Facebook).

Twitter, as an interest-driven social network, achieves this coffeehouse mentality very well. As a reader, you come to associate particular genres of news or news brands with specific writers.

I’d rather follow a particular journalist than the organization (etc.) for whom he or she works (although I follow plenty of outlets like The New York Times or Slate).

So, to really make this discussion worthwhile, the task of maintaining and curating a robust roster of “followees” becomes quite important. Who do you trust to deliver relevant news with just the right amount of acerbic wit. Likewise, who would you like to sit next to at the coffeehouse: the Tom Waits-looking fellow who tends to spout engaging, thoughtful conversation points that make you think or that guy in the corner with one hand in his pants and the other in the pocket of the closest government official?

It comes back to the tried-and-true element of trust and credibility in news reporting. And, with “social” being the phrase du jour, the onus is placed squarely on the head of the journalist/blogger/innocent bystander who’s willing to put their neck on the line for the goddamned sanctity of journalism.

Transparency in distributing news January 20, 2012

Posted by Eric Sandy in Commentary, Social Media.
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Experimentation should be at the heart of a newsroom. Innovation springs from creativity and experimentation.

Indeed. As such, I’m taking lessons from the Register Citizen’s Open Newsroom project and incorporating them into my own work routine.

Transparency is a fundamental element of presenting news to readers and users. Moreso, however, the Open Newsroom project highlights the need for journalists to be transparent in their own approaches to their work. To that end, I began experimenting with my own “Open Newsroom” today in Lakewood, Ohio.

Ideally, I’d like to make this a weekly occurrence. While we’ve opened the channels and pushed for feedback from readers through social media, I think that in-person opportunities are equally – if not more – valuable.

For reporters who have found their eyes focused more on their smartphones than their City Council members’ contributions to local government, hitting the pavement in and around town is more important than ever.

I think that maintaining an open, forward-thinking online presence is such a great development for media people. But what employees at the Register Citizen have been doing in their community is a great practice that highlights an important lesson learned:

We understood learned that “Digital First” really means “Reader First,” or “Community First.”

Yes, “Digital First” has become the mantra of newspaper staffs around the world. But the sentiment goes deeper than that. Disrupt your workflow and keep the end user in mind. Is your online presence benefiting your community in any meaningful way (that is, does your “Digital First” strategy really improve upon what you were doing before the Internet changed everything?)

Experimentation should be at the heart of a newsroom. And there are many ways to innovate in meaningful, worthwhile ways.

Some of those experiments will work. Others will fail.

Get a feel for what readers and non-journalists want out of their online news experience.

I think that’s the best aspect of working within this new digital framework: It allows for such rich (or, in plenty of cases, not so rich) interaction with the people around you.

A few thoughts on ‘live tweeting’ April 19, 2011

Posted by Eric Sandy in Social Media.
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I’ve been especially interested in the great, newsy phenomenon of ‘live tweeting’ that’s been around for a while now. With a handful of appropriate events coming up in and around Cleveland, I thought it might be time to start thinking about engaging my audience in this way.

Via kellimarshall.net

The fantastic blog 10,000 Words elaborated on five tips for successful live tweets. It’s a nice list and provides some great thinking points for journos caught up in the heat of the moment. Figuring out how best to distribute information is the focal point of our ‘new media revolution’ and the above post really hones in on a few good ideas.

Thought for Thought… April 13, 2011

Posted by Eric Sandy in News, Social Media.
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NYU professor Jay Rosen sent out a series of thought-provoking tweets this morning. He was presenting a talk at the Media 140 Conference in Barcelona.

Check out the list of eight ideas. They’re succinct points about the future of journalism – and the innovation of it.

I want to expound on one in particular:

7. Journalists: Instead of crying about Google stealing your news, steal from Google. Start “organizing the world’s information.” #media140

That’s an important point – the need for journalists to start “organizing the world’s information.” The Internet remains a blizzard of facts, non-facts, opinions, commentary, history, et. al. In order to effectively integrate the fundamental tenets of journalism into the Internet, some semblance of organization will surely be needed.

From the Portland chapter of IWW

Rather than shy away from the limitless opportunities the Internet affords modern journalists, we should embrace them. These opportunities are not going away. In fact, the longer we ignore them, the more likely they’ll be thrust into the hands of the power-hungry, the profiteering and the brainless. (Just look at the majority of comments on most any news story. The drivel that many people feel free to spout will only continue.)

Organize! It’s the mantra of the working class. And it’s now the mantra of a new class of journalists. (Let’s hope so.)

Metacommunication in the digital age February 10, 2011

Posted by Eric Sandy in Social Media.
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Sort of piggybacking off the last post here at The Telescope, I wanted to write about Adam Gopnik’s article in The New Yorker, which does a fine job of eloquently dismantling the simultaneous  forces of paranoia and ecstasy surrounding (cue dramatic sound effect) …The Internet.

The esteemed Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) brought the article to my attention earlier today. I find myself pondering the topic quite often, as we all should. Participating in the digital culture of news will become the norm – very soon, in fact. Well, now, in fact.

Gopnik posits an illustrative analogy when he points out that while much has changed, much has also stayed the same. It’s similar in theme to what Hernandez wrote about in the link in my post below.

Gopnik writes:

There is, for instance, a simple, spooky sense in which the Internet is just a loud and unlimited library in which we now live—as if one went to sleep every night in the college stacks, surrounded by pamphlets and polemics and possibilities. There is the sociology section, the science section, old sheet music and menus, and you can go to the periodicals room anytime and read old issues of the New Statesman. (And you can whisper loudly to a friend in the next carrel to get the hockey scores.) To see that that is so is at least to drain some of the melodrama from the subject. It is odd and new to be living in the library; but there isn’t anything odd and new about the library.

(Un)fortunately, however one looks at it, it seems reasonable to make the point that we’re now living within the library. It makes for an unsettling and overwhelming reality, right.

Thomas Suddes, columnist at The Plain Dealer, once passed on a similar analogy to me. To paraphrase: Trying to find a piece of information nowadays is like trying to catch a snowflake in a blizzard. I think there’s a lot of truth to that and, as journalists, it’s worth remembering that in the context of what Gopnik is writing about.There’s a veritable storm out there – and it’s going to get even nastier.

I’m striving for some kind of middle ground in the argument of digital and social media. After being collectively sucked into this latest platform of communication, it seems hard to society to rationalize what it means. One reason it’s so difficult is that, as Gopnik points out, these new forms of media are challenging our very notions of rationality.

Another extended quote:

Yet surely having something wrapped right around your mind is different from having your mind wrapped tightly around something. What we live in is not the age of the extended mind but the age of the inverted self. The things that have usually lived in the darker recesses or mad corners of our mind—sexual obsessions and conspiracy theories, paranoid fixations and fetishes—are now out there: you click once and you can read about the Kennedy autopsy or the Nazi salute or hog-tied Swedish flight attendants. But things that were once external and subject to the social rules of caution and embarrassment—above all, our interactions with other people—are now easily internalized, made to feel like mere workings of the id left on its own.

Philosophically speaking, we’re experiencing a dramatic shift of the traditional paradigm. And it’s moving Fast. I imagine the destination will be fruitful (although optimism alone is nothing), but the ride will surely be bumpy.

More talk of the ‘social media revolution’ February 2, 2011

Posted by Eric Sandy in Social Media.
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Robert Hernandez, @webjournalist, thankfully applied a little dose of perspective to the plethora of social media debates that are never far from our monitors.

Follow the leader, everybody!...(sigh)

He makes a variety of good points including one of the most important ones in life: maintain moderation. There will always be extremist arguments

(many of which are valid and, yes, we need the radical nature of rhetoric to make progress), but the insistence on the ‘social media revolution’ is a bit overblown.

Hernandez makes an apt metaphor:

I tell folks to frame social media apps just like a telephone.

There are hundreds of incredibly insightful, powerful conversations happening over the phone right now. But, there are also several thousands of mundane and truly painful “conversations” as well.

It’s not the telephone’s fault. It’s how people use it.

Social media comprise a fantastic new platform. It’s well worth exploring its every cavity and crevice – the good and the bad. But, as Hernandez notes, it’s all about perspective, baby.


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