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What good is Twitter? A report worth reading by @nadjasnews

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“Social media cannot be outsourced to a web team. It’s every reporter’s job.” How and why is the subject of “What Good is Twitter?” – an academic report from Austrian business correspondent Nadja Hahn @nadjasnews. I don’t know her, but I like her style.

If you care about public service journalism, this is a solid report, pulling together a lot of research and some insightful interviewing, from broadcasters around Europe.

Nadja wrote it as an EBU research fellow at POLIS, the media think tank of the London School of Economics, on secondment from the Austrian broadcasting corporation, ORF. She was working with Professor Charlie Beckett @charliebeckett.

Hahn states what may be obvious to many multi-media journalists operating today – “increasingly people don’t actively look for news but the news finds them on social media” – but she digs deep into the implications for journalists, like me, who are funded by the taxpayer.

Much of the report draws on the experience of the BBC and Channel Four news teams. I particularly liked these two quotes from colleagues –

“You have to fish where the fishes are” from Matt Eltringham @mattsays of the BBC’s College of Journalism, reflecting on BBC News engagement with social media.

And on the supply side, social news editor Mark Frankel talks about “driving audiences to BBC content” … in the end, using the new networks to get better value for the licence fee payer. Three cheers for that.

And thanks to uber social media guru Sue Llewellyn @suellewellyn for the hat-tip!

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Author: philippathomas

I've been a BBC news correspondent for two decades: reporting from the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia. I range across politics, diplomacy, media, religion, environment, arts & more. I began this blog as a 2011 Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard. You can talk to me on Twitter at @PhilippaNews. Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “What good is Twitter? A report worth reading by @nadjasnews

  1. As news becomes more organic and more instant PSBs have to be even more meticulous in what they publish, via social media or broadcasting channels. Otherwise they just hype the hype, and if that hype is baseless and mischievous it creates real damage as we saw with Lord McAlpine.

    I realise it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain truly objective in a fast moving world with in-the-moment communication, but the value for me of a PSB (in a democracy) is that it at least produces reliable news. For example, many bloggers and posters today use Wikipedia as a source of truth to substantiate their point of view or argument. But is Wikpedia delivering veracity or is it that we believe it does? The danger of accepting at face value an “honest” source whether it be a well meaning friend or Wikipedia or a PSB is obvious. From a PSB perspective many have built themselves into a credible sources of news, information with a reputation for fearless journalism. This gives them enormous power, which if not properly managed soon turns into propaganda.

    Being able to rely on your PCB is where the real value for the licence fee payer comes in. This does not mean that every Tweet, every Facebook entry, every news broadcast is rooted in an irrefutable truth, even if that exists. That would lead to a sterile newsfeed that would fail to deliver in time. Latitude is required and honesty. The PSB should be an essential part of everyone’s social media, if it is doing its job properly, so I agree this role does add clear value to me as a licence payer. One caveat however, that added value has to be reliable not speculative otherwise we end right back where we started hyping the hype.

    PSB reliability keeps me loyal as I can trust the source and respect the opinion, even if I vehemently disagree. The other value I believe a trusted PSB should offer is even-handedness in everything it does. Social media does not allow the PSB to abdicate this responsibility, as a inconvenient impediment. Is this naive I ask myself? I do not believe so because if we apply common standards of reliability and even handedness then it will create loyalty and a greater following – whether it be BBC World or the BBC’s Twitter feed.

    The problem the BBC now faces is that its internal culture appears to militate against reliability and even handedness. I can accept some political bias, and even well intentioned subjectivity, but the BBC has lost some its shine by being clearly out-of-step with the majority of the public it serves. It feels disconnected in a connected world. Since it has power any strong leading bias, whether left or right, is morally wrong. I suspect this is a problem with many PSB’s today, not just the BBC. What to do?

    Well the BBC brand is very strong, and that gives it a potentially important position or role in all forms of media, social or otherwise. If the BBC want to drive audiences to the BBC content then it needs to rediscover its soul, that being a trusted, informative and entertaining source. I look forward to that day.

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