Nov 062009
 

I spoke at Media140  Sydney – I want to highlight some of the “arguments” used against social media by the panels, also focus on Everybody co-creating The Human Narrative and the diminishing role of journalists who take news from one part  of the community and deliver it to another part:  It’s not YOUR content. It’s our content. Our stories. We didn’t give you the Human Story, we loaned it to you, and now we’re taking it back.

Such an odd day – I couldn’t seem to get my feet under me at Media140 Sydney. Journalists kept coming up with the same old chestnuts and really no idea how to listen. It was weird. Note: my view was as a blogger first and only. I’m not a journalist who blogs, nor a blogger who has ever been paid for writing by a media organisation, nor  journalist who is also an academic. So it’s a bit of a surprise that few people addressed the popular questions of “how will Freelancers survive”, “how will social media make money”? I have a clear understanding of those things, perhaps because I’m NOT in the media echo chamber but in online communities where everyday ProAms are figuring out how to monetize their user generated content. In fact I podcast about social media revenue every week…

Anyway, here is my 5 minute presentation also available as an episode on my Social Media Business podcast on iTunes or video or audio.

Now we’re taking it back – Laurel Papworth Media140 from Laurel Papworth on Vimeo.

Do Journos do it better?
I only have five minutes so I’m using this as a timer. Top left hand corner – yell out when it gets to 300 seconds, my time will be up. Just ignore all the people joining Facebook, uploading YouTube videos and writing blog posts while we chatter here about whether journalists do it  better.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count (you can download it  or embed it on his site) @garyphayes

Do what better than whom?

Is it more interesting to read an article of a journalist interviewing a survivor of the Mumbai bombings – or to watch that survivor’s photos on Flickr? Do you feel you are better informed when a journalist reports the date of the State Election in South Australia or when Premier Mike Wran tweets it? In fact as more world leaders move onto Twitter, the horses mouth has never been so evident.

Which brings us to the second part of the question: journalists blog better than ….? Better The President of Iran who blogs in both  Arabic and English? The Nobel prize winner in Economics who blogs? or the President of the European Union?  Mayhill Fowler has not once but twice scooped the press – on stories about both Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. She calls herself a citizen journalist and contributes unpaid articles to the Huffington Post.

Is it only journalists that can provide an independent viewpoint? Now this is where arguments fall down. Either the blogosphere is one big echo chamber, repeating each others articles – or worse, pinching them from the Press  – with bloggers agreeing with each other and readers can never get a different viewpoint OR no one agrees with anyone online and it’s just a big chatfest of negativity, anonymous comments and flame wars. Media has yet to make up their mind.

My view?  journalists are cossetted, under the tender loving hand of their editor should probably try to understand that bloggers who get a story wrong are greeted with a howling barrage of criticism, with repeat offenders receiving the worst punishment of all, a deafening silence? No blogger that I know of has a horoscope, crossword and sports section to make up for lack of attention on the part of the reader. Journalists can’t possible survive in the attention economy unless they know the impact of their articles.

So Do Journos Do It Better? …but it’s a bit of a silly question. No blogger would craft a blog title like that – it smacks of linkbaiting and typical of traditional media. To paraphrase Lord David Putnam, journalists craft an article like a grenade, lob it over the wall into the school yard and walk away without staying to see the consequences.

And anyway, what is a blogger? Or a Facebooker? Or a Twitterer? Perhaps we’d be better naming them Readers, or Viewers or Listeners? Or simply the Public. Because social media doesn’t belong to a new regime coming up to displace the old media regime. It’s Everyone. It’s everyone creating content. Good content, bad content and everything in between. It’s Everyone distributing content, linking out, retweeting. It’s Everyone discussing, dissecting, critiquing and correcting.

Which brings us to the Human Narrative. Stop for a moment and think about your great great great great grandmother. Who was she? Do you have videos or even photos of her? Do you know what she did when she was 17 and half? Where she went on holiday at 33 years of age? What she wrote about at 64?

Now move forward in time and consider what the next generation and the next generation and the one after will know about their great great great grandparents. For the first time in human evolution we are co-creating the Human Narrative, never again will our histories be held hostage to the victors, our stories forgotten, unwritten, unscribed.

It’s not YOUR content. It’s our content. Our stories. We didn’t give you the Human Story we loaned it to you, and now we’re taking it back. Feel free to retire your press card and pick up a keyboard – the sooner you become part of the Community and not outside of it, the more likely you will be to survive. Indeed, thrive.

I might grab the video from ABC soon – after all it’s my content, my story. heh.

Media140: generalizations abound, or else very personal stories on “How I got started on Twitter”. The Ethics panel didn’t go to any actual examples or get down and dirty: I suspect even the academics are not used to releasing “work in progress” to an audience. Incidentally, we got the usual bashing Bloggers/Facebookers/Twitterers are guilty of all the below:

Echo Chamber:

An echo chamber is a social network – if we share a Purpose  (gardening, law, crochet) then we discuss the same or similar topics ad nauseum. That’s why we come to gether. If we share a value system, then we tend not to argue too much. It’s a no brainer. The reality is, we read other blogs and look for opposing viewpoints to argue our case – anyone who had done essays at school knows that trick  yet journalists see themselves as truly independent and therefore above a social network. Which doesn’t really explain the same News on all the stations on TV in the evening.

Negative Anonymous comments:

Social networks are full of negative comments. This of course contravenes the point above -that the Echo Chamber doesn’t allow for diversity of discussion. but anyway, it hasn’t it been my experience. I think Newspapers run negative communities, because they get SO much wrong on Purpose, Values, Identities, Trust, Reputation, Leaders, Roles, Etiquette, Events, Rituals but the communities I am involved in rarely have more than a few snippy exchanges. BazaarVoice found overwhelmingly that reviews online are positive. Journalists however often look through the lense of their own experience and claim it impartial. Clean up your own newspapers articles, adjust the tone and stop linkbaiting and you’ll start to have a more respectful community.

Only Journalists can do real News.

Caroline Overington was adamant – well actually she was channelling James Murdoch’s rant over the BBC. Without fully understanding it I think. Her take? Pretty well that when Fairfax defaults on it’s loans and folds, the only media organisation doing News will be the ABC and what a sad day that is. Somehow she never got around to addressing what the event was actually about SOCIAL MEDIA and traditional journalism.  That we can do News ourselves very well thank you very much.

The Whole Thing Is a Bit of a Joke

Chris Uhlman had the least considered, least informed rant of the day. Let me give you some insight. He took the quote ““News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising” and noted that it had been attributed to a number of well known journalists and media barons, that nobody can tell now who actually made the quote… and get this: the fact that we don’t know who is plagiarising whom is the internet’s fault. Riiiiight. Untrustworthy hacks all claiming a quote for themselves and somehow its social media’s fault. By the way when I checked, it’s Lord Northcliffe – media baron. And if that’s wrong it’s because a journalist somehow somewhere decided to attribute it to his boss. Not a blogger.  See? Sleight of Hand. MisDirect.

Social Media is all very well and good but it can’t change the world.

His so called insightful studies into “only 8 people are behind the Citizen News in hot spots like Tehran situation” were ill informed and – again- misdirects. Yes people in Iran may be poor and not have computers but they DO have mobile phones and use them. And while “satire didn’t stop Hitler” (why did the audience laugh?) nor did newspapers. No mention of the President of the Philippines tweeting during floods or of the Mumbai bombings wiki to help find missing people. But at the end of the day, this wasn’t about people reporting their own stories better than journalists reporting stories, it was about people around the world feeling connected, involved. That was flatly looked down upon as trivial and not Pure News.

Trust and Reputation of the writer

I learnt that the next time a journalists says “i’ve done some research and this is what I found” to do the same thing I do with bloggers: question. Can I trust them? have they shown an ability to present a subject passionately but with some sense of honesty and transparency and real grasp for the situation? What is their backstory, who are they connected to… you know the drill. Nothing exists in isolation.

Of course what we heard was that you can only trust people face to face and never online. Well guess what? I trust people more online, than I do face to face. Online is a record. Face to face might never have happened if they deny it. I don’t have to ask to see someones driver’s licence online, I can see their profile and verify with their connected network.  It’s really hard to fake being ME online – I only have to deny it on one of my channels and story over. Easier to fake being me in real life :)

Bloggers don’t have editors.

No, we have an army of them… nitpicking, pedantic readers who won’t just read but insist on correcting. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. FFS the long tail of content means that over time we gain respect. Social media is not a democracry but a meritocracy.  Screw up too often and the readers stop correcting – they go elsewhere to a more switched on, valued source.

I really see the “studio system” of newspapers folding. I see a sponsored model of news arising – similar to independent film makers. And I see a lot more journalists turning to blogging as a revenue stream. The sooner the better because for me these “journalists vs social media” fests, give diminishing returns. Cos at the end of the day even if I agreed that all blogs are rubbish and only Traditional News works, it doesn’t matter. The Viewers and Readers are too busy creating content to notice the demise, and it’s already Game Over. Change, adapt, move on.

There’s work to be done.

N.B. Margaret Simons has published her views on our presentations on The Content Makers at Crikey. As Fran Molloy tweeted to me: Journos all differ! (As do bloggers, Fran, as do bloggers…)

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