Tweeting the Revolution

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Andy Carvin, the social media director for NPR, became the go to guy (or twitter user in this case) for information regarding the revolution in the Middle East. Social media, specifically Twitter, was an enormous part of beginning the revolution and continues to be a big part of reporting on it. The Business Journal offers Five Media Goals Learned From Tweeting the Revolution.

1. Personality
Having your own personality is important when you're reporting on the news. If there were only one type of news broadcaster and writer, there wouldn't be so many news stations and newspapers. Twitter is a difficult platform to express personality in, but finding a way to do that can make your news tweets some of the best. Share knowledge and don't be afraid to ask question.

2. Accountability
Being responsible for what you tweet and share with the world is an important staple in journalism. Always always always check your facts and your spelling. Don't retweet without checking others facts. Verify your sources and don't be unwilling to admit when you've made a mistake.

"Transparency goes hand-in-hand with accountability" writes Rebekah Monson, author of the article. As a writer you're going to get thrown a lot of links to share. Be honest when you share them, say what you really think about the links. Don't be afraid to set your own standards and stick to them.

4. Context
Context is a very important part of the news that sometimes gets lost in small articles and 30 second news coverage, and especially in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Clarifying context is important in Twitter and other news sources. Twitter can be very helpful in this through the use of hash tagging, geo-tagging, the chronological order of posts and the sortable archives.

5. Immediacy
With the constant streaming of Twitter feeds, being the first is very important. If you want your message to be heard, you have to get it out there quickly but also accurately. Also, keep updating on a story as it develops. Don't leave your followers hanging and ready to switch to a more reliably updated source.

These tips are important to Journalist who want to use Twitter and other social media as a large part of their career. Keep these in mind the next time you log on fellow tweeters and bloggers.


Journalism in 2036

Journalism is a career that will always be affected by technology's constant change. It is hard to know what journalism will look like, even when looking just a few years into the future.

Online journalism professor and blogger Paul Bradshaw took on the challenge of making a prediction of what journalism would be like in the year 2036, roughly twenty five years from now.

One of his predictions is that people will still be predicting the death of newspapers. The future of newspapers is already of great debate today and Bradshaw predicts that this will still be the case in twenty five years.

Bradshaw points out that people have thought newspapers would die for many years due to new technology, yet they have continued to survive despite this.

He argues that as long as newspapers offer influence and status, proprietors will keep the newspaper business afloat.

I found this to be an interesting prediction. I would agree with Bradshaw that even if newspaper sales are down, wealthy investors and proprietors have the ability to keep the newspaper business afloat.

While I do see the logic in Bradshaw's prediction, I think applying it to twenty five years down the road is a bit too far fetched. With so many new forms of receiving news by way of internet, phones, and tablets, I feel as though in twenty five years the fate of newspapers will be decided.

While investors do have the power to keep the newspaper business alive, the public also has a large say in the matter. If people aren't reading it and favor another form for getting their news, eventually investors will be forced to do the same.

For more of Bradshaw's predictions, visit this link.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


Brave Journalists Needed in Mexico

Word-associations surrounding journalism these days often include "brave," "iron-willed," "feisty," and "undaunted." We need people of this caliber in journalism to go into the danger zones and report on what they experience and what other people are experiencing.

Might it be the case, though, that some places are just too dangerous to send journalists into? It seems many professionals in the United States are starting to feel that Mexico is too dangerous of a place to send reporters. There's no denying it's a dangerous place for all kinds of officials.

Journalists are not exempt from all the death recently in Mexico from drug cartel violence, but we need brave souls to cover the horrific events-- and they're covering severe violence elsewhere. Mexico makes the top ten in regard to the most violent posts for journalists, but the country is number nine.

So, what's happening to coverage in Mexico? According to Joseph J. Kolb, "The dwindling freedom of press in Mexico is compounded on two fronts by the allegations of widespread government corruption and ties to the cartels as well as the profound self-censorship imposed on the media through intimidation and murder."

I would assert that another major difference between journalism (and the presence of journalists) in Mexico and journalism in countries in the Middle East and in Northern Africa is the long-standing danger associated with Mexico and the drug war.

While revolutions are, by nature, breaking news that requires reporters to expose themselves to danger for what may be a limited time, the violence in Mexico has been going on for years and it's not getting much better.

If this information wasn't striking enough, another prevalent problem is conviction rates for people who murder journalists. Frankly, they're no good. Most of the time, no one is even brought to trial.

Another issue brought out is the slight number of breakthrough news stories coming out of Mexico-- the press can't help Mexico find justice and peace because the cartels are controlling the press. This is one reason that it's essential for United States journalists to go into the danger zone and bring stories home to the press-- drug cartels can't censor United States news stories.

Mike O'Connor, a veteran journalist who has spent a lot of time covering issues in Mexico, has some tips for other brave journalists. He says reporters must let someone in the states know where they are going to be and when, even if it's incredibly short notice.

O'Connor also warns journalists to be inconspicuous, ditch the United States license plate, vet the area you're going into, have a plan, and don't meet people at night in scary places. Obviously, a lot of it comes down to common sense.

If you consider yourself brave, and intelligent in the face of danger, a career covering stories in Mexico may be just the job for you. At least you know there's a demand.

Photo Courtesy of Kate Sheets, via, via


Latest Attempt to Pass Federal Shield Law Fails

The latest attempt to get a federal shield law for journalists passed has failed once again with the conclusion of the 111th Congress in December. The coalition of media groups pushing for the shield law says it may be years before they get another chance.

A shield law would protect journalists from being forced to identify confidential sources in federal court. Support for a federal law began in 1972, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional privilege for journalists to protect their sources. Judith Miller's incarceration in 2005 for refusing to name the government source who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame was another important motivator. But proponents for the law say that it is not only about protecting journalists, but to allow anonymous sources and whistle blowers the security to speak out without worrying about their jobs or families.

The bill, supported by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, passed in the House in the spring of 2009 with broad, bipartisan support. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved it soon after, but it never reached the Senate floor. The hectic lame duck session of Congress kept the bill from ever moving out of committee.

The bill's failure is largely blamed on disagreement over who would be considered a journalist, and fears that organizations like WikiLeaks would be protected.

"I think by the third WikiLeaks disclosure, at that point, we were trying to take the temperature of folks on the Hill," says Sophia Cope, legislative counsel for the Newspaper Association of America. "They were like, 'No way.'"

The bill would have had an exception for national security matters, and protection would have been restricted to traditional journalists with ties to media organizations - a compromise that media groups said they could live with. But the information released by WikiLeaks was the final nail in the coffin, despite the fact that the bill would not have covered a WikiLeaks-type of organization, and language was added to specifically prevent large information dumps like the kind released by WikiLeaks from being protected.

With a new, Republican Congress, the chances for a shield law being passed are low. But media groups say that they will not give up, despite the odds.

Photo credit:


Libya and Freedom of Press

While protests continue in Libya, journalists find themselves in the inability to perform their work.

Since the early events, Gadhafi's government had assured media that they will be able to report any event across the country. However, since a few days, journalists are banned from crossing certain areas of the country, especially sites of clashes with the rebels.

"The situation for crews in Libya is becoming increasingly precarious and there is a strong sense that antipathy towards foreign journalists is mounting," said the International News Safety Institute, a non-for-profit charity.

Many journalists are confined in their hotel and can not report freely. Some of them have been detained by security forces but all have been released since.

"A number of news crews who have given their minders the slip have been detained," INSA said. "Several journalists were detained trying to get in to Zawiyah, about 30 miles west of Tripoli. Some were held overnight."

Libya is not the first example of control of press. Freedom of press is always an issue in countries facing a dictatorship. It is still the case in North Korea, were people have no access to the Internet, no cell phones and can barely talk to each other.

Photo credit: via


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