Posted by: mobrienweiss | January 16, 2014

What to expect in social media in 2014?

What to Expect in Social Media in 2014?

Image credit: Heart & Mind Strategies via MediaBistro.

Posted by: mobrienweiss | January 7, 2014

2013: Twitter & journalism

The past year saw Twitter play an integral role in news events, particularly breaking news events, not always for the good.

Mistakes, as they say, were made all over Twitter during breaking news stories — particularly when it came to initially IDing the suspect(s) in the Boston Marathon bombing and the Washington Naval Yard shooting. Nonetheless, avid Twitter users continued to frequent the site, utilizing it as a tool of engagement, news gathering/dissemination and area in which to muse about the annoyance of winter snowstorms and the recent season of Homeland.

muck rack image

The blog Muck Rack recently published, “2013: A year in Twitter journalism:”

“From Edward Snowden’s big reveal to the Boston bombings, social media has become an established part of how news spreads and increasingly how it is sourced,” Gregory Galant wrote on Muck Rack as he announced that his website “analyzed these journalists, their organizations and how some of the newest members of the social journalism community have embraced their Twitter handles and engaged audiences worldwide.”

muck rack image 2

In addition to ranking the most-followed journalists on Twitter — CNN’s Anderson Cooper with 4.6 million followers, Muck Rack also assessed the news organizations with the most staffers tweeting, with the New York Times leading the way with 502, closely followed by Reuters with 496.

muck rack image3

Who has lured the most Twitter followers? Muck Rack says CNN tops the list with 18.2 million.

What news-related Twitter accounts do you follow?

Image credits: Muck Rack.

If you were reading through your Twitter stream on Tuesday afternoon, you might’ve seen this horrifyingly alarming tweet from the Associated Press, a trusted name in American journalism: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

If I hadn’t been in the middle of teaching a class, there’s a good chance I would’ve re-tweeted that post, in spite of all the awful media miscues during last week’s Boston Marathon bombing reporting. (They’ve arrested someone. No they haven’t. They’re on their way to federal court. No they aren’t. Twelve are dead. Nope, it’s three. Both suspects are dead. No, one is dead. The boat suspect two is hiding in is on fire. Nope, wrong again.)

This tweet about explosions at the White House was from the Associated Press. I generally trust the AP. They wouldn’t mess around with a story of this magnitude, right? The problem? The AP Twitter feed had been hacked. The tweet was a lie.

AP soon tried to do some damage control. “The @AP twitter account has been hacked,” AP editors said in a statement. “The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible.”

stock marketOne tweet. One hack. And all hell broke loose as people all across the globe re-tweeted that ill-fated, phony tweet.

“The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 150 points when the news broke on Twitter — an indicator of traders’ presence on the social media platform — before immediately recouping the losses after it became clear that there had been no incident at the White House,” the New York Times’ The Caucus blog reported.

Take a look at the graphic from the Washington Post. Although the market quickly recovered from the erroneous report, that’s a jarring image of the kind of damage that can be inflicted upon our financial system in the time it takes to type out a 140-character lie.

Ironically, hours before AP’s Twitter account was hacked, Wired Magazine’s Mat Honan published the piece, “The One Function Twitter Desperately Needs.” The function? An edit key or, a way to append corrections to tweets in everyone’s Twitter feed.

“Twitter could add a function, similar to a re-tweet or favorite, that lets you edit and correct a tweet after it has been posted,” Honan suggested. “Those tweets then show up in a timeline as having been corrected–again, they could be flagged like favorites or re-tweets. Click on a tweet marked as edited, and it uses Twitter’s Cards function (the same system that lets tweets embed images, videos and text) to show the original.”

The issue is a particularly poignant one for Honan as he is still lamenting the fact that he tweeted out misinformation during the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and named someone as a suspect, only he wasn’t a suspect, and his name was immediately propelled across the internet and linked to a terrorist attack. When Honan realized his error, he also realized that there was no way to send his mea culpa not just to those who follow him on Twitter, but to all of those followers’ followers and so on and so on.

“Last week, Twitter was a breaking news machine,” Honan wrote. “It’s done this before, of course, but this time given its growing size, the sensational nature of the crimes [the Boston Marathon bombings and murder of an MIT police officer], and the fast-moving situation, it was on an entirely larger scale. But now that the dust has settled, we should come to grips with what happened. It’s a scale we need to get used to: This is the way it’s going to be from now on. The future of news dissemination is the crowd, or maybe even the mob.”

His pro-tweet correction argument makes complete sense, particularly if Twitter wants to remain a viable source of news consumption and information distribution:

“We all need to be more careful on Twitter in regards to what is true and what is not,” he said. “We should all be more skeptical … But Twitter can help this process become cleaner, more efficient, more reliable. While it’s true that Twitter is good at correcting errors via viciously effective crowdsourcing, it needs a better way to self-correct, to take it back, to fight the rumors of our own creation.”

A Twitter correction/edit button … yay or nay?

Image credit: Washington Post.

Posted by: mobrienweiss | April 9, 2013

Good example of student-social media journalism

While reading through my Twitter page today, I came across this post by a student journalist from Oakland University who’s taking a media ethics class. It’s well worth taking a look.

On her blog, Walks and Balks and Bunts, Oh My!, Lindsay Beaver — the sports editor for independent student newspaper The Oakland Post — detailed her ethics project where she sought to figure out what her 1,942 Twitter followers “really felt about women in sports journalism.” She created a survey on Survey Monkey and asked her Twitter followers to take the anonymous poll.

As of April 8, she reported receiving 131 responses and then analyzed 100 of them. Her respondents were largely ages 18-24 (48 percent) and male (68 percent). Then, using solid graphics on her blog, she gave readers the results which included:

  • 88 percent don’t believe “women are as respected as men in sports journalism.” (She noted one male in the 25-34-year-old category added, “No, and they shouldn’t be.”)
  • 72 percent said “women should be allowed inside the men’s locker room before and after games.”
  • 67 percent said they “take women journalists as seriously as men,” with 26 percent reporting, “it depends” and 10 percent saying that they don’t.

I like the way she combined social media, an internet survey, graphics and her blog for this project. Of sexism and sports journalism, she wrote:

“I don’t want to dwell on this topic. I want to ignore the ignorant. I don’t want to give sexists and misogynists the time of day. But while looking at these results, I couldn’t not share some of the responses I received. I want a chance to answer some of the things that were said, while also showing opinions that demonstrate maybe society and sports culture is on the right path. Maybe.”

Posted by: mobrienweiss | April 2, 2013

We’re talkin’, talkin’, talkin’

Students taking Framingham State University’s Writing for Online and Social Media class are in the midst of uploading their first audio snippets or podcasts to their blogs.

Student Spencer Buell — who blogs at Student Journalism: A Love Story — just posted a really good interview with a former Framingham State University journalism student who’s now a reporter for the MetroWest Daily News.

Spencer recorded the phone call, then uploaded the file to SoundCloud, then copied the code for the audio into the body of a post. He even gave the podcast a clever name, “Editorial Sound Board.”

I also tried uploading an audio interview conducted by another student, Cristina Valente — she blogs at Spreading the Word to End the Word. First I saved her initial audio recording in an mp3 file then realized I had to upgrade the space on this WordPress blog in order to upload the audio. That cost $20.

I initially uploaded the audio by creating a post, set it to “text” (as opposed to “visual”), then inserted the audio file. Under the display option, I chose “none,” then published:

The audio works on some laptops and smartphones, but not all. I, for example, wasn’t able to play it on my iPad or my laptop but it worked on an Android smartphone.

However I much prefer the SoundCloud way of uploading audio. It looks better and seems cleaner.

I created a SoundCloud account (free), uploaded the WAV file (I’d converted Cristina’s audio to a WAV file), created the SoundCloud audio then embedded it into this post:

Please feel free to chime in with suggestions for better ways to upload audio to blogs, audio/recording apps that work, etc. We’re all ears.

Posted by: mobrienweiss | March 29, 2013

NY Post reporter threatened on Twitter

It seems like there’s a new story like this every week. Typically it unfolds thusly: Somebody writes something controversial and then, ultimately, winds up on the receiving end of all manner of vitriol online, specifically on Twitter.

The latest incident involves a New York Post reporter who, after writing a front-page story about an EMS who had a “secret” Twitter account filled with racist, sexist and anti-Semitic commentary, has been getting death threats sent to her Twitter account, the Post reports.

In an editorial defending its staffer Candice M. Giove, the New York Post editors wrote:

“When this newspaper exposed EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos for his vile tweets, we thought it couldn’t get worse. After all, here was a guy tweeting under the moniker ‘Bad Lieutenant’ and using a photo of Adolf Hitler for his profile. But it turns out that Dluhos has friends in some pretty low places.

These friends of Dluhos have now turned their online fury on Candice M. Giove, the Post reporter who exposed him. Some fantasize about her being raped. Another talks about her being killed with a hatchet. One perverse soul wishes she would die in a car fire — ‘hopefully’ when she’s pregnant.

. . . We all say things we regret. But we’re seeing something very different from regret from Dluhos’ defenders — something far more troubling than tasteless language.

What we are seeing is the fruit of an online universe whose offer of anonymity is helping to feed a culture of shamelessness.”

To view some of the odious tweets you can go to the Post’s Storify page.

Posted by: mobrienweiss | March 15, 2013

RIP Google Reader

RIP Google Reader

Remember way back at the beginning of the spring semester when I told you (I’m talking to my students here) about creating a Google Reader account to help you keep track of the blogs you’re following? Well, um, nevermind.

google readerNews today out of Google HQ is that as of this summer, Google Reader will be kaput. Here’s an excerpt from the Google blog about the demise of Google Reader:

“We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.”

Writing on the web site Lifehacker, Whitson Gordon offered some alternative RSS readers to help you get a handle on your blog feeds including:

Image credit: Ubergizmo.

Posted by: mobrienweiss | March 1, 2013

The Onion gets fried after Twitter jab at 9-year-old Oscar nom

20th Century Fox And Fox Searchlight Pictures' Academy Award Nominees Celebration - ArrivalsSomeone acting on behalf of the satirical publication The Onion decided it would be a scream to publish a snarky, supposedly ironic tweet about Quvenzhane Wallis — the youngest ever Oscar nominee — referring to the child who brought her puppy purse on the red carpet, by the four-letter curse word which began with a “c.”

After a storm of condemnation, the editors issued an apology:

Dear Readers,

On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.

No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.

The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.

In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.

Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.


Steve Hannah
The Onion

While many were aghast, the New York Times’ David Carr, who covers the media, apparently thought the apology was unnecessary, tweeting:

“Onion to writers: Tweet incredibly edgy, funny stuff. If you go over the line, we’ll just slide you under the bus.”

The Huffington Post’s chief TV critic, Maureen Ryan said of Carr’s tweet:

“… Carr’s tweet … indicates that he wonders how the writers are feeling, which strikes me as the least interesting part of this. The Onion’s writer or writers had a degree power in this situation (more than 4.5 million Twitter followers, which is just one measure of its influence), and that person or people used it to lob an extraordinarily crude word at a child. Forgive me if I haven’t spent much time thinking about how the whole thing affects them, and a good deal of time wondering if Wallis can be shielded from hearing that word for a long time to come.

Because Carr has a lot of power himself, his tweet was the one that made me despair.

Carr is not dumb. As a media columnist, he’s proven in other situations that he understands how power dynamics work. Why is he so blind to the hierarchies and power imbalances here? Why isn’t he using his power to excavate and examine them, even a little bit?”

Do you think The Onion was right to apologize? What do you think about Carr’s response? About Ryan’s response?  

Image credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images via Entertainment Weekly.

Posted by: mobrienweiss | February 18, 2013

Study: Tumblr very popular with under-25 set

garry tan chart
A new survey has found that Tumblr is currently the hot networking platform for those under-25, according to TechCrunch.

Describing Tumblr as an anti-blogger platform, Adam Rifkin, who wrote the TechCrunch piece, said Tumblr’s where it’s at, pointing to tech guru Garry Tan’s survey, conducted with Survata, of over 1,000 people ages 13-25 about which social media platform they use regularly by the numbers of hours per week.

Among the results, Tan found: “It turns out Facebook’s doing just fine with the kids these days — in fact, slightly more of the younger demographic reported using it regularly. But perhaps most impressive was Tumblr topping the list at #1, with 59 percent of respondents saying they used it regularly.”

Musing on the platform’s surge in popularity, Rifkin said, “Tumblr now enjoys more regular visits from the youth of America.”

How often do you visit Tumblr?

Image credit: Garry Tan web site.

Since we’ve been talking about Twitter for the past week, I think this video from PBS OffBook provides a lot of grist for our class discussions.

Is Twitter filled with shallow observations or is it a revolutionary tool? Or a mixture of both?

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