The free version of Twittercounter does something very simple: it shows you a chart comparing two of three metrics: your followers, your volume of tweets, or the number of people you are following.
It’s not completely accurate, but its simplicity does something very important: it focuses your attention on whether your use of social media has any impact, on one metric at least: the size of your audience.
Of course followers is only one metric – I’ll write in a future post about other metrics and other ways of measuring those – but the ease with which Twittercounter works makes it as good a place as any for aspiring students to begin exploring the importance of measurement in modern journalism.
By way of example, here are 11 charts which show how a simple tool like Twittercounter can illustrate what you’re going right as a journalist – and where you can improve. Continue reading →
‘I don’t do numbers’ and ‘I hate maths’ were depressingly common expressions, perhaps unsurprisingly. People wanting to study journalism enjoy the use of language and rarely expect that numbers will be vital to the stories they are telling.
So those responsible for journalism education have a tricky task. A bit like providing a sweet covering to a nasty-tasting tablet, it was said that lecturers need to be adept at finding ingenious ways to teach a practical and relevant use of numbers without ever mentioning the M (maths) or S (statistics) words. Continue reading →
After a short summer break, our Hyperlocal Voices series returns. In this issue we visit the tiny island South Atlantic island of Saint Helena. Perhaps best known for being the home of an exiled Napoleon, it is frequently described as one of the world’s most isolated islands. At just 10 x 5 miles, and with a population of 4,255 people, Simon Pipe’s St Helena Online, offered Damian Radcliffe an insight into a very different type of hyperlocal site. Continue reading →
In January 2012 I was facing an old problem: as I prepared to teach a new undergraduate online journalism class, I wanted to find a way to encourage students to connect with wider networks in the area they were reporting on.
Networks have always been important to journalists, but in a networked age they are more important than ever. The days of starting your contacts book with names and numbers from formal organisations listed in the local phonebook are gone. Now those are instantly available online – but more importantly, there are informal groups and expert individuals accessible too. And they’re publishing for each other.
Because of this, and because of reduced resources, the news industry is increasingly working with these networks to pursue, produce and distribute stories, from Paul Lewis’s investigative work at The Guardian to Neal Mann’s field reporting for Sky, the Farmers’ Weekly team’s coverage of foot and mouth, and Andy Carvin’s coverage of the Arab Spring at NPR.
How could I get students to do this? By rewriting the class entirely.