Monthly Archives: October 2009

dealing with this internet stuff

A few things I have learnt about the internet. I’m one of those technologically inept people – computers literally crash at the sight of me so you may be interested to see what tips and ideas helped me to bond a little with the online world.

It’s growing.If you’re not yet convinced by just how fast paced, crazy and addictive the internet is click here. Whether those numbers are real or demonstrative it  makes you realise how huge this thing is we’re dealing with. It’s happening and growing fast. Watch a Twitterfall during a hot topic and try and keep up with it all. P1100258


It’s important to accept that the internet has changed things.The internet is all about thinking in new ways, not getting bogged down in the old way of thinking.

You can join in! An interesting point was made in the lecture that I hadn’t thought about yet, that people are now also interested in the raw process of producing a piece and not just the polished final version. Because they can, people like to be involved and this is why media organisations are trying to include the audience as much as possible, in an attempt to crack the internet nut that no one can quite get into yet. Check out the BBC digital Revolution which is transparently showing its online working process. I think this is a really interesting idea, it’s great to include the audience to such an extent, the public have a lot to offer creatively.

What a hash tag is (I’m such a twitter virgin) If you’re a journalist it seems that these handy internet tools are the only way to go. I for one vowed never to get involved with this twitter malarky, I despised the egotistical facebook status how it was, it’s nice to have the odd update don’t get me wrong (we’ve all got a bit of stalker in us!) but 20 second updates on what your dinner’s going to be, what it was like and how full you are – now this is all too much information. However, after being at Cardiff Journalism School for about a day I realised I had to get involved, and as the nice BBC woman pointed out there’s many a reason to get involved if you’re a journo, wannabe or anything in between as social tools such as twitter, all its branches (twitterfall,tweepml,twittergrader,twitscoop) RSS feeds and all that stuff do all sorts of magical things if you grasp them in both hands and get into this digital revolution thing.P1100260

*Note-  everything we’re learning in our online module is very twittercentric.  It will be interesting to see if it really is going to be as big a deal as it’s being made out to be

You might as well embrace it – if you don’t good luck (aimed at journalist type people). What I’ve been learning is that the internet is easy to get overwhelmed and scared by. Even our 80s generation that grew up alongside the mobile phone and the laptop are struggling to grasp what exactly is beyond our safe little facebook knowledge. On this journalism course we’ve been bombarded by all sorts of internet gadgets: AggregatorsRSSfeedsGooglemailmapsrefinedsearchesTwitterTwitterfalltwitscooptweetdeckflickrbloguponbloguponblog

P1100267Conclusion? There isn’t one.

All I know is that I am the proud owner of a ridiculous amount of online accounts, my inboxes are bombarded, I’m spending a bit too much time staring at this screen, back is slowly hunching over and I have way too much info than I can ever hope to process through my little brain.

No one knows where any of this is heading, we’re all just being flung into this Internet beast thing that is eating away at our frail little print world. We’re all just trying to survive (we = journalists)

One thing we do know is that this digital revolution is here to stay, the internet aint getting any smaller so we may as well hop on board!

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Cake or mistake is moving home

P1100428That’s it. I’ve had enough of the randomness of this blog. One minute a post about cakes, the next my opinion about the future of journalism. Time for a purely cake based site. Join me and my apron at my new cakeormistake blog. But of course pay me the odd visit here too!

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The power of social networks

Last week’s media scandals demonstrated perfectly how journalism and news are evolving in terms of public participation. The Guardian fought for press freedom. Jan Moore made assumptions about Stephen Gately. Both resulted in a twitterfest of enquiry, news leads and outrage from the public that led to victorious outcomes. By allowing the public to do the investigating, the mystery was revealed of who was behind the super injunction that gagged Guardian reporting. Trafigura’s alleged toxic waste dumping is now in the public eye. Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir was made to apologise after 22,000 complaints were made to the Press Complaints Committee (PPC).

Social networking tools in both cases gave the public the opportunity to shape the outcomes of these events. They offer people freedom to speak out and with speed.

Without the internet the offended have little or no voice. A slow trickle of snail mail will not have the same impact as the barrage of electronic complaints made over a weekend. Social networking sites give passionate people a platform to speak out through blogs and twitter. Before the internet revolution what could we do? send in a measly letter to our local MP or newspaper that may not even be opened. On the internet no one can hide away the criticism from the public. People often don’t act because no one else is acting. If we can see others are reacting, it encourages us to make a stand too. It also gives the lazy or less motivated the ease and facilities they need to give them that little extra push and do something about an issue that has ruffled their feathers.P1100429

Social networking tools have enabled news and reaction to spread at speed like never before. As the Guardian/Jan Moir events were unfolding, there were about 10 new tweets every minute. Armed with a twitter account, each person  has the opportunity to reach out to hundreds or thousands of people.  If someone ‘retweets’ your post it will then be seen by everyone in their network and so on. As well as publishing individual concerns and opinions, relevant web articles can also be flagged up through links and tweets. This in turn gives the writer more power by reaching out to more people.

It’s important to give the public this opportunity to contribute to the news and help it evolve.

However, in some respects this new found freedom has been abused. By giving people a new found voice they are now ready to shout back at any journalist who dares to step outside of the norm. Whether the words in Jan Moir’s article were purposefully racist or just ignorant and clumsy, I personally think it’s good that people get the chance to comment about this type of thing.

Well, on one hand I do, on the other I’m a tad worried that freedom of opinion may be spiraling out of control to some extent. If we want to continue to live in a society with freedom of speech then surely we have to accept that people are going to publish things we don’t agree with sometimes, that angers us now and again. I believe that when we are truly in disagreement with an issue we should flag up our issues to the author using this great new internet tools (but not through harassment, more through intelligent debate!) What I don’t think we should do is jump on the Twitter bandwagon harassing writers, making PCC complaints every time something slightly controversial is published and a blogger kicks off about it, this will only scare journalists away from speaking their true opinions and we’ll end up with a bland middle view journalism.

In general however it’s good that the gap between media and public is closing, people now feel a part of what is going on – they have the power to investigate and solve. If people do not abuse this power too much, the public and the media can work together and maybe win future victories. Together they can help build a truer, richer picture of the world. Journalists cannot always be everywhere, they can’t spread a message too far on their own. The press can’t always be the first to crack open the mystery, and The Guardian/Trafigura case is a perfect example of new journalism.

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Seventeen declarations about the internet….

I have been reading a manifesto written by group of German journalists. It consists of seventeen declarations about the internet. Now in reflection of what they have stated, I ask myself – did they manage to hit the nail on the head?

I thought in many ways yes. This was quite interesting to read and it got me thinking about the implications the internet will have on journalism.

However, every point that the declarations make is positive. Embracing the inevitable change is good but is this realistic? Some negative consequences should be considered. One declaration boldly claims that the internet will improve journalism – but nothing is clear yet in regards to the future of journalism so can such a claim be made?

Yes it’s very likely that the internet will improve journalism in many ways. However, the internet may also have some detrimental effects on the quality of print and online articles. Some journalists have admitted to increased pressure to promote products through their work. For example, print journalists have had to lower their standards in order to win over precious advertisers and this is also happening online – in a bid to survive in such a competitive industry.

Another issue that might affect the quality of journalism: journalist’s workload may increase considerably. If news websites do not generate enough money, that will mean goodbye! to many journalists, and in turn a huge workload for those who survive. This could lead to a lower quality of work – especially if the journalist is also expected to produce a fully edited video, keep their web article up to date and put in a new blog entry at the same time.

But, all in all I agree with the statements that the new internet driven world will bring positive things. More information will mean more freedom as it gives people a chance to seek out alternative viewpoints, not just their country’s biased opinion.  Many of these inevitable changes will enrich our knowledge and understanding of events  – history cannot be buried anymore. We can retrieve old news and contribute to live feeds – this was difficult if not impossible during the old print empire.

So, not to be a spoilsport but we must accept the negative, not just the positive. The declarations themselves state that we need to accept certain realities such as social networking and the need for new skills. We must accept the possible negative outcomes so we can try and prevent them from happening. We need to in order to protect the quality of journalism.

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