Pardon the pun. This is actually gonna relate to the media and new media. I am now registered at six different social networks, which for such a techno-sceptic as me, strikes me as quite remarkable. It all started with LinkedIn – the stoneage networking platform created mainly for professional use. I never use it – does anyone? Then it was MySpace, which I mainly used for searching for bands when I started my music website. I still use it, but mainly as a library and not as social media. Then it all came rumbling: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and today I registered at Google+ (and now we are not counting platforms like Hitlantis, ReverbNation, WordPress etc).
For me, as someone who is trying to get media products, such as my music blog and my pictures noticed, the world of social media is naturally vitally important. There are a lot of pros and cons regarding all these new tweetbookplusses, but what I find especially interesting is the impact it has had on the media.
I am a journalist dealing with fast flowing medias such as radio and the web. For me Facebook and Twitter are not just useful tools, they are essential. Facebook used to be in the news, now the news are in Facebook. With millions of people uploading the latest breaking headlines, gossip, videos, and statements on social media platforms, it is a source of free information in a remarkably well organized package such as we have never seen before. We as journalists have been pretty slow to latch on, but now I think we are starting to adapt.
But I would like to ponder a bit about an aspects of the new media revolution and it’s impact on the ”old media”. Namely, how the established media houses houses use tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
When Facebook was still gaining speed one of the international media houses, I think it was BBC, but I can’t remember for certain, forbade it’s employees to use Facebook at work. This just goes to prove the total lack of understanding of the internet revolution that prevailed within the large media corporations. Today we are all on both Twitter and Facebook; Fox, BBC, CNN, NY Times, Al-Jazeera, and here in Finland YLE, Sanoma, Aller, etc. But we still don’t seem to understand what these platforms were made for. We still use them as marketing tools, rather than as implemented means of news delivery. This certainly goes for all Finnish media, and most of the international collegues as well.
This is how it usually goes: 1. News agencies flash a message: Usama bin Ladin is killed, says White House Sources. 2. Journalists scramble to find more info. It is 20 minutes to the next radio news transmission. We write a short telegram, ”Usama bin Ladin has been killed, according to international news agencies. Anonymous White House sources tell Reuters that the al-Qaeda leader was shot dead by US forces in Pakistan. No offical confirmation has been given. We return with more on this in our next broadcast.” 3. The telegram airs 20 minutes after the first flash from Reuters. The text then lies for another 10 minutes while web journalists try to find more info and a picture of bin Laden in the databases. 4. The text is then compiled and coded (using html-tags [sic!]) and 35 minutes after the first breaking news, it is out on the website. 5. Then, when someone, at some point, remembers it, it is posted as a link on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe an hour after the news broke.
And this is when we deal with big, breaking news. Other times the news may well sit as a text in the internal IT-system for a couple of hours before it is even published online. Then it is online for an hour or so, before someone publishes it in the social media. Of course this varies according to who is working, some journalists actually do things pretty swiftly, we CAN move fast if we want to.
But this is the problem: When we post breaking news on Twitter an hour after it broke, everyone on Twitter have already read it. Then why do we post it on Twitter? As a marketing ploy, we put a link to our website so that people will go in and read it. What should be done is this: 1. News breaks. 2. A first post is posted to Twitter and Facebook: ”News agencies: bin Ladin is dead, according to anonymous US sources.” This takes about two minutes. Then we are using social media for what it is best used for: Fast, short, real-time updates. 3. Then we start compiling more info on the situation, update our own website etc. No-one does this. All media first publish a text on their own website, then update social media. It is backwards.
I’ll be pondering on how new media has changed the content of traditional media tomorrow, but more of that then.