Monthly Archives: December 2005

Social Networking for Journalists

[Keyword: ]. Another helpful piece at Poynter, this time about using online social networking sites to help research stories. Here’s a lengthy but insightful quote-within-a-quote:

Ryan Blitstein, a staff writer at SF Weekly and former Columbia Journalism student … shows you why reporters should learn more about such sites (he calls them “a goldmine for sources”).

Social networking Web sites are the bane of my existence. Almost every day, I receive an e-mail alerting me that someone I barely knew in high school wants to connect via Friendster. As annoying as these sites are, though, they’re a goldmine for sources, especially among teens and young adults.

Friendster, MySpace, and Tribe are a 21st-century version of a little black book, calendar, photo album, diary, and telephone rolled into one. Everybody’s information is public and, better yet, searchable, if you know where to look. Recently, I needed to find sources that fit a specific profile: Asian Americans who graduated from a certain San Francisco high school during the last few years. I focused on MySpace, the music-centered site that has become the online equivalent of the suburban mall for teenagers and college students. (If you don’t know the difference between the sites, ask the youngest person in your office.) I registered, creating a simple MySpace profile (Ryan, Journalist, San Francisco). Then, under the Search option, I chose users who went to the school, narrowing the list to recent graduates. Several dozen profiles remained, many of which listed “Asian” under ethnicity. Sites also let you search by occupation, location, even last name.

Social network reporting isn’t without drawbacks, logistically and ethically. Many site users, despite what their profiles say, are under 18, so use the same caution you would when reporting on high school kids. Be aware that most people don’t expect their profiles to be read by anyone other than their friends, much less to be cold-e-mailed by a journalist. Some of those I contacted responded as if someone had stolen and read their private diary. It’s also a good idea, if you already have a profile, to create a new one for reporting -� after all, you don’t want sources discovering any of your private information.

I use, a site that is used in business contexts rather than “I want to meet new people” contexts. In my next column, I will describe how I use it for my reporting, for journalist friends looking for sources and for non-journalists looking to connect for business purposes.”

Is the future of print video?

[Keyword: ]. That’s the argument of Steve Outing’s article on Poynter, which reports the move of the Press Association’s project to convert regional newspaper journalists into video-journalists. It’s based on a report by David Dunkley Gyimah, senior lecturer at the University of Westminster,

“who has been doing some of the training for the program. He explains: “It’s the newspapers’ answer to thwart the BBC’s plans to introduce what’s termed ultralocal television.”
“He’s building a video-journalism website which among other things will showcase some of the video work being done by newspaper journalists. “

Sadly, that showcase, and David’s own site, the View, have a tendency to crash the less well-endowed browser, so the future may be a while off yet.

Related reading: The Newspaper Non-TV Show; Local papers forge links with BBC
Other newspapers with video coverage: TimesCast, and Delaware Online (A presenter called “Patti Petitte”?) allows users to decide the cover stories

[Keyword: ]. Another good pointer from Poynter (sorry):

“a technology news website that employs non-hierarchical editorial control. With Digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allowing an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do.” It is gaining popularity rapidly. Business Week Online recently featured its founders.

“An interesting aspect is that is considering expanding its range of topics, which has caused quite a bit of discussion among its users. Perhaps this system indeed could work with breaking news better than anything we know yet. Thousands of users who push a story to the front page might scoop all the wires and automated systems that take time to crawl the Web.“

Photo Phones get better as citizen journalism becomes more realistic

[Keyword: ]. Poynter reports on the next generation of mobile phones which will:

“be the equivalent of today’s high-end digital cameras — featuring an 8-megapixel camera capable of doing excellent-quality video.

“Another cool feature that’s coming: Storage will be on tiny SD cards, allowing a more convenient way to get images off the phone than what’s common today (using the phone network to e-mail an image to an Internet account). Just pull the card out of the phone and pop it in a reader.”

Online papers should charge readers, says Sorrell

[Keyword: ]. As reported in The Guardian: “Advertising guru Sir Martin Sorrell has told newspapers to start charging more for online content to rescue falling revenues.” He seems to be unaware of the fact that advertising revenue from online newspapers is one of the fastest rising sources of revenue for newspapers (and the reason Murdoch was so keen to explore that market).