Tag Archives: Social Media

which shoe are you in the online world?

I am watching The City and it is taking over my brain. I am really trying to ignore the fabulous clothes, ridiculous conversation and the emptiness of their lives which I secretly want. So I thought I would try and incorporate it into my blog post about Joanna Geary’s lecture this week. Well, they do say you don’t know a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Social media is a world of accessories, shoes and outfits that match yet simultaneously clash. And it can be an absolute shopping disaster until you find the right style that suits you.

Joanna Geary started experimenting with her style when she joined The Birmingham Post.  She realised the importance of blogging and building an online community for The Post early on in 2007.

After coming across a local blogger in Birmingham called Pete Ashton, she badgered him until he gave her all of his style advice. I will let her explain in a bit more detail:

A key lesson in social media and in styling – listen and take advice from those who know better. Just as you would consult the latest fashion magazine for key advice about the latest shoe, or most stylish accessory, consult key bloggers if you want to improve your blogging style.

In 2007, Joanna relaunched The Birmingham Post website.  She encouraged people from all over Birmingham to write for it; from engineering lecturers, to fashion students to journalists – eventually she had over 30 bloggers from across The City blogging about their relevant subjects.

Through groups such as e-mint she began to develop her online presence and start to converse with a network that she had never met. People began to be aware of her. She developed her own style.  She was moving into Mary Jane territory.  Secure, always fashionable and dependable.  Not yet showing off, but people began to look to her for inspiration.

Soon after, she stepped out to The Times where she became their Web Development Editor. Tasked with developing the business site, Joanna has had to develop an engagement strategy for news that will soon sit behind a paywall. Now a stiletto, surely? Perhaps paving the way for other news models, she has an open mind about paywalls, compared to many others. Joanna thinks that the possibility of engaging with a smaller audience where she can be helpful to her consumers is a positive move.

In understanding how news comes to people in their ordinary lives, she can design products that are suitable for them. Is she now the stylist to look to?

Recently, there has been a change in consumer behaviour. People consume their news when they want it and more than anything they crave interaction.  They want to share style advice, tips and blogging accessories – widget is the new type of bracelet, don’t you know – but what makes a blog successful, is interaction.

So, what shoe am I in the online world?

Well, I’m enthusiastic, eager to learn and still slightly clueless. But from now on, I will do my best to listen, watch and learn from those that have found their style.

I want to be a stiletto, but at the moment I am pretty sure I’m a clog. Slightly wooden, found only by those who love me, unable to go with any specific outfit and certainly not part of The City, but hopefully, I will soon be back in fashion…

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keep the standards up

Yesterday morning I was woken up by a text.  Quite a normal occurrence so I rolled over and fumbled about with my terribly old Sony Ericsson to find out what one of my friends had to say.  But wait, this was no ordinary text, the sense of urgency crept into my layer as I began to read, “Ruth. Rory Cellan – Jones. Birt Acres Lecture Theatre. 4.15pm. Be prompt.” That got my attention immediately and got me out of bed.

Having been off ill for a week, I was slightly daunted about returning to the world of Bute. My escape had lasted a while but now it was time to return – voice, or no voice.

As I strolled into the lecture theatre, I took up a place in the front row which I was sure to regret in a matter of moments.  Oh joy – a photograph; a journalist’s dream. I thought part of the job description was that we get to be on the otherside of the camera, closely aligned to the photographer:

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Rory Cellan – Jones told us to smile and wave; apparently I am one of the only ones that did.

So, what did he have in store for us new journalists of the future?

In awe of someone who has made it so far in the field of journalism I was very eager to learn about what Rory had to tell us about social media.

Claire Packer sums up Rory Cellan-Jones’s lecture very succinctly in her blog.  And I agree with her that,

“contemporary journalism is undoubtedly a much slicker operation than the journalism of the 1980s.”

Rory went onto explain how modern journalists are multi-skilled and heavily involved with their audience.  His blog now demands an increasing amount of his time.

Time As he finds himself less on TV, he now has the ability to interact with his readers personally when they send him leads.

Being proactive in developing his relationship with his audience gives Rory a credibility and an honesty that people at home can relate to, which is now increasingly important in modern journalism.

Rory commented on how nowadays, one of the scariest things for news editors is that the audiences have a say in what they think is the most important story. Their input has become as essential to a running order as the editor themselves. The audience demands news in a certain format, at a certain time and in a certain way.

To demonstrate this, I thought I would just do a quick comparison of the most read stories on a couple of reputable news websites to illustrate the power that the audience now has, compared to the “mad people” that 1980’s journalists used to interact with.

On the BBC at the time of publishing this post:

Picture 1

Today is Armistice Day, however the people of Britain are more interested in sharing information about “the perfect vagina.”  I can’t imagine news editors of old ever entertaining such a thought. But if this is something the majority of the public wants from a public broadcasting service that “gives added value to the masses,” should it be?

Next, onto the Daily Mail

Picture 2

Apart from the near to ridiculous headlines, people seem to be reading across a wide range of stories.

However, when we look at what people are reading in most detail we get a completely different story, which is not quite as pleasing but maybe more realistic.

The usual offenders are there: Katie Price, Li-Lo and Coleen.  A slight whiff of adultery.  And a tragic accident involving German goalkeeper, Robert Enke.

Read in most detail:

Picture 4

Surely there are more important things going on in the world today, such as Armistice Day and the plight of our soldiers worldwide and past,  the food shortages in El Salvador, or the risk of cancer for 9/11 workers.

In a day where the user is the source, as well as the audience, perhaps it is not up to a journalist or even an editor to decide what is newsworthy.

Recently, Rupert Murdoch has unveiled a scheme to introduce paywalls to News Corp’s websites in order to generate revenue from the news. In his quest to make more money, does he really think that people will be willing to pay for their news, especially when the news they apparently want involves Coleen, and the quest for a perfect vagina.  I doubt it.

As I was writing this post, one of my colleagues, Alex Smith kindly shared a link to a testimony given to a Senate Committee by the creator of The Wire, David Simon on the challenges facing journalism in the age of new media.

He said that,

“It is nice to get stuff for free, of course. And it is nice that more people can have their say in new media. And while some of our internet commentary is – as with any unchallenged and unedited intellectual effort – rampantly ideological, ridiculously inaccurate and occasionally juvenile, some of it is also quite good, even original.”

More than anything I think that journalism needs to get its self respect back.  It needs to be valued.  It needs to be trusted and it needs to be respected by its audiences.

If the public thinks that anyone can be a journalist, then we need to prove to the public that this is false.

What we don’t need, is this:

Picture 5

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encouraging conversation

Why am I a week late writing this post? Hmm, I think I may have to start removing the dates off my posts so I can slyly slip them up here.  Shall I begin with an excuse again?

I recognise the importance of blogging but it just doesn’t seem a priority for me at the moment.  On a To-Do list, it would fall at the bottom. But why? Probably because I am not involved with my audience.  I have no conversation and no network.

Last week, in a lecture given by Adam Tinworth from RBI, we were told that a blog is no place for Opinion.  It should be a place for sharing information; posting a link, a photo or a video. You should have enthusiasm but it shouldn’t be opinionated.  This I find hard to accept, but I am willing to follow his advice to see if I can become a better blogger.

Adam went on to discuss the traits of a good blogger –

A good blogger is:

Curious cat

Inquisitive

Communicative

Honest

Enthusiastic

Informed

Social

(Photo taken by dcjohn on Flickr)

Now, one could say that this rather lovely looking cat has all these qualities – who by the way is known as Bartlet – but a slightly better analogy would be to compare it to a beat journalist.  If we start to define ourselves by beats again and concentrate on the input of the information, rather than the output, we can all make good bloggers.  If we look at blogging like that, it isn’t so scary.

In doing a little research about Adam Tinworth, Google delightfully returned Tweet of the Week – for the week beginning Oct 5th.

Picture 1

It is clear that Adam feels very passionately about the world of “social media”.  He has enthusiasm for his subject which drives traffic and encourages conversation.  What I am finding hard about blogging is that I don’t have a niche.

Over the past few weeks, I have generated just over 100 hits. If I were a newspaper I would be dying. Adam Tinworth made it very clear that one of the most important skills a good blogger can have is enthusiasm.

I have buckets of enthusiasm to spare. But, I am just not sure what I want to pour myself into.

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