Category Archives: Social Journalism
Combination of traditional media storytelling and social news gathering/news dissemination techniques.
I just read a blog by one of my tweeps @jenniferlaycock. Jennifer is an online marketer and a professional blogger, so she is somewhat of a social media guru. In her latest blog post http://www.searchengineguide.com/sage-lewis/jennifer-laycock-brings-business-back-to.php Jennifer talks about how social media didn’t change business.
Good business hasn’t been changed by social media, because good businesses were already connecting with people. Social media is just one more tool businesses are using to reach people. The difference between good business and bad business is what they use that connection for. Good businesses know that reaching people is important so that they can establish a relationship of trust first, before they ever talk about their product. Bad businesses try to connect with people using the message of their product as the reason for making the connection. Good businesses leverage the power of their employees to make a difference in peoples’ lives, bad businesses tell people that the business will be the difference in peoples’ lives.
Since I’ve been in TV the only real relationship we seem to have with people is our product. The problem is, the television media product, by nature, is tainted in 2008. People believe we are biased or out of touch with their concerns. This is the result of not finding a way to connect with these people first. We are so busy filling hours of tv news that we don’t take the time to really listen to our community and hear what they have to say. Telling someones story and listening to a community’s concerns are two different things.
Social journalism is one answer. But we have to do it in order… social then journalism. We have to find a way to connect with our potential customers first. To talk to them, to listen to them. We have to make that connection with our individual journalists, like @jason_wcmh has done. People want to connect with people; people are hesitant to connect with NBC. Jennifer Laycock agrees, “…people trust people, not corporations.”
So how do we stop this behemoth operation long enough to make those connections. Well, we can’t. At the end of the day we still have bills to pay. But we have to focus each and every one of our minutes of the day on finding and taking advantage of opportunities for our people to connect with the people of Central Ohio, not just when they have the story, but every day. We can change the way we do our journalism in the mean time by making it more of a conversation and less of an anchor moment.
I would love to hear ideas you might have about how we can better connect with you. I am passionate about connecting with our community and listening. Please contact me in any way you can. I’m @NBCSquire on twitter.
I wanted to do a television news story on Twitter.
I get at least one or two of my tweeps (twitter peeps) asking me when we will do a TV news story on twitter.
For the past year, we have focused the stories we do on news that is relevant and important to the people of Central Ohio. I certainly think that twitter is relevant, and becoming more relevant every day that is works correctly. I know that it has been an important piece of some of our stories, and can point to several, maybe a dozen instances in the last 5 weeks that we’ve used twitter to find or enhance a news story.
The problem and the power of twitter is that you only care about it if you use it. I tried to get as many of our news people on there as possible, and for the most part, the people who joined use it to update what they are doing. But not everyone. The last thing I want to do is get everyone to get excited about twitter and join, befriend all of my tweeps, and then leave; and that’s rude. The power of twitter is that it’s viral. You hear about it from a friend, or come across it and tell 30 of your friends about it and they all start doing it because you are.
Central Ohioans aren’t going to twitter because NBC 4 does. They will twitter because the people they have a realationship with do. So first we need to build relationships with people, then ask to be their friends. After all, we are the evil biased media, or something.
Or this is all a big excuse and I just need to do the story. But hold on. It’s not just our viewers that have to buy in to a story that I would like to do. I have to sell it to other managers and producers, too. Some of these people have seen some of the value of twitter, but some still think it’s a joke. I am trying, one-by-one, to knock down those pegs and get this story done. Wish I had more time.
Update: After writing this story, I realized that I’ve never actually pitched the twitter story, so I’m going to stop blaming this on everyone else and take some responsibility. Here’s what I need: a Columbus area business that has seen an increase in business or some sort of measurable return from using twitter. Please post it as a comment to the blog.
So it finally happened. Today, I was eating lunch with my wife (thanks for coming to see me at work!!) and my cell phone rings. My cell phone rings any time I get a voicemail at work… annoying, but it allows me to respond to voicemails immediately. I figured it was a call from a Petland store about surveillance video I was trying to get of a Chihuahua being stolen.
It wasn’t. It was the supervisor of all dispatchers for Pickerington Police. Now, if you follow NBC 4 on Twitter, you know about Jason Mays and his famed nightly beat calls. You also know that Jason one day aspires to move his clan (approaching tribe size) to Pickerington. Jason talks to the Pickerington Police Dispatchers each night. I’m sure he’s tried to sell them on twitter. Jason is a born network builder, he does it more easily than anyone I have ever met.
Apparently, Jason forgot to talk to the dispatchers’ boss about being social. This person called and left me a voicemail seeking an explanation for a fax she found from NBC 4 that proclaimed Pickerington Police Dispatchers as having one the NBC 4 Fresh Prince award for best story idea on May 2, 2008.
I didn’t know we had a Fresh Prince Award for best story idea. It’s a pretty good idea. Find a way to recognize the best story idea each week.
This person didn’t think it was appropriate. She even asked me if it was the way we normally did things at NBC 4? Yes, we talk to people. It’s not all death and destruction; and even when it is, we don’t think that’s all fun.
So this person tried to corner me a couple of different times about Jason, she even asked me to spell his name (sorry J). I’m sure she’s running a full background check. I reminded the supervisor that I would need to speak to Jason, and that I will not call him on his day off. (i don’t think that’s fair, he’s not getting paid, why should he have to explain his social behavior?)
So, Jason somehow found out that this person was looking for information. Back to the history of dispatchers, Jason has established quite a social network among dispatchers. I, on the other hand, never really got past, “hi, is anything going on?” At that moment they would say, “no” and I would thank them for being so forthcoming and hang up. Jason has revolutionized social networking. If you can create a social network among dispatchers, i think that you could make Hitler social. (Not everyone was like this, and I’m generalizing, but more were anti-social.)
What story idea did Jason hand out the NBC 4 Fresh Prince Award for? The dispatchers asked him to do a story on kids using their parents old cell phones, and those old cell phones still being able to dial 911. It’s a problem because it greatly increases the number of unnecessary and potentially dangerous calls into the dispatch center because police are usually required to check out each 911 hang up call. It’s a great story that would help increase awareness while hopefully lifting some of the burden on dispatchers. They asked for help, they were being social. Jason passed the story on to me. We still haven’t done the story.
The only failure here is on my part. A very good story idea, and for whatever reason, Marc Dann, weather, someone else’s story idea, we haven’t done this story with Pickerington.
Can television news be saved?
Quick answer: Yes
There is one extremely important reason why you should care, even if you haven’t ever cared about television news. I’m going to explain all of the issues with TV news and traditional media from where I sit, but first why you should care. I care because, right now, tv news puts food in my childrens’ mouth and provides for a roof over our heads. You should care, because as tv news works to stay relevant, TV news will have to embrace the model being established by social networks and bloggers, and involve you in the process of a free and open press, giving you a voice that… wait a minute, you already have that voice. The real reason you should care is because journalists can help you learn how to hold people accountable, how to get access to records that are supposed to be public, and can help you learn why accuracy, fairness, and balance could make what you do so much more powerful. We can help you most by joining forces with you to help get information in the hands of people that want to know.
But you can help us. We need help at being social. “But wait, you talk to people all day long.” My point is, we talk and talk and talk. The least social guy you ever knew was the one that wouldn’t shut up and hear what you had to say, or better yet listen. Remember that one?
Mom: “I know you can hear me, but are you really listening?”
Me: “Yes Mom.”
Mom: “Then what did I say?”
The power of the word has always been important. Arguably, the most important invention in the last 500 years was the printing press. The press was so important because it gave people a way to share information and opinion with large numbers of people without one on one communication. The Internet has set the new standard for what can be considered “large numbers” as anyone with a computer can now access the words written by people. The Internet allows for more than just words, and it gives anyone a voice, not just newspaper editors or newscasters.
TV started into its downfall almost as soon as it started. For almost half a century, television has focused on bringing you a better picture. So many resources and billions of dollars have gone in to developing DTV, and soon, you’ll have to have it if you want to watch TV. This is a perfect example of how TV has pushed its pushed itself towards irrelevance. Instead of finding ways to reach larger numbers of people, or give larger numbers of people a voice (the reason TV news was better than the paper), we focused on how to make pictures look prettier.
How do we fix it? We need to stop thinking of this as a fixible situation… for starters. Stop fixing, start learning, start becoming involved in the communities that we serve. That means we stop reporting stories the way we traditionally have. It means we become members of the community and start/facilitate/participate in discussions. It means we start sharing information that is relevant and important to the communities we serve. We must stop being so darned protective of information, and start sharing it, with everyone.
We have started to use social networking to get involved with people in Columbus. Social Networking tools are a good start, but you wouldn’t (maybe you would) believe how few people see it as important to journalism. Some people are amused, some are interested, only a couple (in our building) think the tools could be the future of how we do this whole journalism thing. I certainly think that it has to be a part of how we gather and disseminate information, I just don’t have a great example of how anyone else is doing it.
Which leads me to my next point; we have to stop playing follow-the-leader. Why do we only do something when someone else does it and proves that it works? We are already so far behind the times with new media and social media, that we risk becoming irrelevant all together. I bet you couldn’t find 8 people in my workplace that know what Web 2.0 means.
DTV is nice, Social is better. DTV is great for Buckeye games, the Super Bowl, and The Wiggles (yellow looks great on Greg in 1080i), but our society is social by nature and getting more connected with each passing day. Meanwhile, news media continues to broadcast (clearer pictures) telling the same stories that we’ve told for years. We know we need to involve more people in our stories, and we’ve tried; but finding someone who is actually affected by the stories we’re talking about is difficult when we start every morning in a conference room at a television station and not at a coffee shop, park, street corner, or community center. Let’s actually get involved, not just ask people to help us, but actually get to know them.
Remember when your teachers (Mrs. Buckholtz) would put on your report card that you did too much socializing, and you didn’t really know what that meant, but your mom and dad told you they were disappointed? If only Mom and Dad could have seen 20 years in the future where the kids that were willing to be social anyway were running everything. Mom, I have news, not sure it’s “breaking news,” but news… you’re socializing. My Mom is on Facebook. She was on MySpace before I was. She uses it all the time to see updates on my children. She’s socializing. I’m proud of you Mom.
So it’s social journalism that I propose will save my job and the jobs of the people around me. Social journalism could even make TV news (done on TV and the Web) cool again. I shouldn’t pretend to know how to bail all television stations out of what many consider to be impending doom. But I have seen a glimpse of what we could be and how we could really serve people over the last month as our newsroom has jumped on the twitter wagon. Follow me, so I can connect with you and maybe you can help me figure out how we can stay relevant in your life… www.twitter.com/nbcsquire