Event review: Twitter’s Impact on Media & Journalism


Today I was at Twitter’s Impact on Media & Journalism run by The Insight Exchange. It was as usual a fantastic event with great insights – I will be digesting and musing on the conversations and ideas for a while, and will incorporate these into future frameworks.

Below are quick on-the-fly notes from the event. Check out the Twitter stream #timj for the rich conversations from the event. For my own thoughts on the topic read my post from last week on How Twitter impact media and journalism: Five Fundamental Factors.

Here are my notes from each of the presenters – taken on the fly but hopefully a reasonable representation of what they said. Some of the presentations will be put on online in audio and hopefully transcription so will post links when they’re available.

Mark Pesce (@mpesce)

He begins by quoting Bob Woodward:

“Social media? It’s noise. Twitter? Facebook? It’s all a diversion. Good reporting is always going to be about hard work; about waking up every morning with the thought: What are the bastards hiding today?”

Mark responds by saying that’s exactly what he thinks when he wakes up in the morning and reads the newspaper: “What are the bastards hiding today?” Bob has become a creature of the moneyed and powerful.

The battle was over before the first shot was fired. On 12 May 2008 Mark saw tweets on the Chinese earthquake. Because traditional channels were broken, Twitter provided better information than

Twitter will be the death of the wire services. They were born in an era of a scarcity of information. We have raw reporting through Twitter of every major event around the world.

As the newspapers have collapsed they are being forced to rely more and more on wire services. They are building their businesses on sand, because the wire services will crumble.

What will future journalists do? A journalist will research, confirm, compile from an array of sources.

What happens in a world in which absolutely everything is under observation?

What Google and Facebook began, Twitter is going to finish.

Twitter is the backchannel for TV that everyone has always wanted. Mark started using Twitter a lot in April 2008. At the time he Twittered about The New Inventors show he appears on as he watched it, and others joined in. Mark and many friends now join in the conversation to discuss The New Inventors every week as it happens. Eurovision became a global Twitter event as thousands started to Twitter to each other about Eurovision as it happened.

Twitter intensely amplifies content by allowing people to share what they find the most compelling.

Twitter is objective, partial, biased, incomplete.

Renai LeMay (@renailemay)

“I’m not an official CBS spokesman.” I’ve been called to defend the honor of the fair lady of journalism. She is beset on all sides by falling revenue, PR professionals and more.

I am a journalist and also a Gen Y person comfortable with technology. I represent the future of journalism.

Twitter is not the death of the traditional journalist. In fact it’s a playground of pleasure for the journalist. It represents a way for journalists to connect to readers, and vice versa .

Research shows that much of journalism is press release rewrites. Journalism has dropped the ball. Twitter is the best tool yet discovered for facilitating conversations between people with similar interests.

Twitter is cutting the fat out of journalism. Journalists are the only people that can publish certain sorts of information. It is our responsibility to bring the hard issues to the public.

People who argue that social media can replace traditional media are right. The situation in Iran is an example. But it doesn’t negate that traditional jourrnalists have a valuable role to play. Journalists of my age are proving that’s true.

Twitter is a playground of pleasure that is renewing journalism.

Paul Colgan (@Colgo)

Children today will look back and laugh at the technology we have now.

There is massive fragmentation of media channels. When I began work as an online reporter in 2002 most of the social media tools we know today did not exist. When I look at how YouTube and Facebook have transformed our expectations, it is staggering.

Twitter is now a massive torrent of incredible information. It’s an incredibly uplifting and positive place.

Journalism has never been healthier. Twitter is a very powerful channel for journalism, both in gathering information and getting it out, making it the property of the world.

#IranElection is changing the way people feel about Twitter.

Jon Stewart on Today Show did a great sketch on CNN’s use of Twitter and social media in covering Iran (see video below) – CNN received a shellacking for their failure to cover Iran. Verifying information still remains paramount.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Irandecision 2009 – CNN’s Unverified Material
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Jason Jones in Iran

The Twitter API is very important, for example in allowing apps like Twittervision in showing where tweets are coming from. This can allow verification of some information. #UKhols provides a great way to share information. Twitter can help to map swine flu migration – telling an interesting story in a compelling way. The challenge for journalists is to work with developers and designers to deliver better stories.

Corrie McLeod (@espressocomms)

PR has an important role in this discussion. Relationships are changing. Tech companies have been the earliest to adopt new communication channels, Government will be next.

Twitter is a great channel for PR. Journalists want PR professionals to be connected, informed, provide useful insights. Journalists often ask their Twitter followers for sources or information for their sources. PR people can connect them to good sources and do it fast, providing value for journalists. They may know themselves, or they can ask their network.

Press releases will go out through traditional channels and also on Twitter.

The delineation of our personal and professional lives is shifting further with Twitter.

Roundtable discussion

At our table the discussion question was how the merging of personal and professional lives impacts trust and objectivity. Establish trust over time – this can accelerate through Twitter as you see them well. Because more is visible of more people than ever before, increasingly when people make decisions they go to those they feel they know as people.