You Are What You Read

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"'Facebook Friend #384' read 'My Parents Turned Down Harry Potter Role: Daniel Radcliffe' on Washington Post Social Reader"

"'Facebook Friend #1276' read 'The World Mourns the Death of Dippin' Dots' on Yahoo!"

You may have seen similar postings to these popping up on your Facebook News Feed over the past couple of months. And, if you have lots of current events gurus as friends, you might be getting a little annoyed at seeing everything they read.

However, according to Facebook, this "frictionless sharing" is helping news organizations reach many new readers.

Jeff Sonderman from shares some lessons that Facebook and news organizations have learned since implementing these news apps in September.

First, early statistics show that these "frictionless sharing" apps have increased traffic to news sites from Facebook referrals. Yahoo News has 10 million app users on Facebook and its referrals from the social media site have increased 600 percent. The Washington Post and The Guardian are also seeing strong success with 3.5 and 4 million monthly users respectively.

Second, the struggle with finding young readers may be decreasing. According to Facebook, 83 percent of Social Reader users are 35 years or younger. This is good news to news organizations as they are appealing to a wider range of people.

Last, while no one seems to know Facebook's tricky algorithm for deciding which stories appear in one's News Feed, one thing is for certain: the open graph apps appear heavily within the News Feed, meaning that your friend's reading habits are consistently available.

Despite some criticism and leeriness over the inclusion of news reading on Facebook, I think that this is a great thing for news organizations as it is pulling in a wide variety of people to their website. Whether they read just one article or are drawn to the entire website, people that were getting no news before are receiving news via their social media habits.

We gain opinions and reccommendations from those in our sphere of influence and this is another way to help us decide what to read or what we may find interesting.

Or, you could just judge your friends on their own reading habits. As they (don't) say, you are what you read!


Pulitzers to be All Digital

The Pulitzer Prize Board has announced it is requiring all submissions to be digital starting in 2012.

According to a press release from the Pulitzer Board they have also made changes to their Breaking News category.

They are focusing more on the real-time reporting of breaking news, which appears to deal with how a journalist uses social media to report a story.

It is nice to see the Pulitzer Board call attention to the proper, accurate and timely use of social mediums in reporting

Hopefully the Pulitzer Board's redefining of "Breaking News" affects more than just those submitting for a Pulitzer Prize.

It is really easy to hold the elite to this new standard but, it will show its true worth if everyone begins to adhere to it.

Photo courtesy of PhotoBucket


Unethical Journalist is Arrested

Another person who participated in the News of the World's phone-hacking scandals, Bethany Usher, was recently arrested for participation in the phone hacking.

She was the the 17th person to be arrested since 'Operation Weeting'--the investigation into phone hacking--was set up this past January.

After the recent closing of the News of the World magazinr many people were made aware of the tragic murder of Milly Dowler, as well as the unethical way in which all journalists involved in the phone hackings operated.

Dowler disappeared in February of 2002, but her remains were not found until September of that year largely due to a belief that she was still alive. It was believed that she was alive because of the News of the World's hacking into her phone's voicemail, publishing the messages, and deleting them afterwards.

It was great to hear that her killer had been brought to justice, but, it is also good to know that those journalists who behaved so unethically are also being held accountable. I fully support 'Operation Weeting' and its efforts to remedy the phone hackings.


Paying for Information

Recently, Nick Davies of The Guardian admitted to paying child prostitutes for information for one of his articles.

Davies claimed in a testimony before a U.K. Parlimentary committee, "I [paid them] for two reasons – first that I thought it was better for them to earn the money by talking to me than by allowing somebody to sexually abuse them; second that it seemed fair to them, if i was depriving them of ‘working time,’ that I should compensate them for their loss."

Even though Davies is writing on a very touchy topic is it ethical in any way to pay your sources for their time? If Davies hadn't paid the children to talk, would any of them spoken out to a reporter? Or would Davies's article consisted of facts, not first-hand stories, about the horrors of child prostitution?

A newspaper or reporter paying sources for information is known as checkbook journalism. According to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the practice of checkbook journalism is unethical, wrong, and should not be used in any situation.


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