Fall 2009 | Online Exclusives

Let's Talk: Journalism and Social Media

From blogs to vlogs, Facebook to MySpace, Twitter to Flickr, Delicious to reddit, words and images bounce around the globe, spreading wide and fast. Journalists are adapting to the ever-shifting terrain carved out of these conversations. In this issue they describe changes in how they work and what they produce, explore emerging ethical issues, and propose principles of active engagement. In Words & Reflections, essays touch on foreign news reporting, Afghanistan, netroots, objectivity, journalists’ political leanings, and Cold War spies. – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Let’s Talk: Journalism and Social Media
Introduction (2 comments)
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Finding a Good Fit | Journalism and Social Media
What Is Journalism’s Place in Social Media? (3 comments)
‘Bringing our journalistic values to these environments that have captured the imagination of millions is one of the most promising ways we have of serving that interest.’
By Geneva Overholser
Social Media: The Ground Shifts (2 comments)
Social networks serving as Web services, not sites, ‘create new challenges for journalists, news organizations, and media companies that are only now starting to embrace social media.’
By Richard Gordon
Blogs, Tweets, Social Media, and the News Business (8 comments)
‘Merely because a technology is popular with some users and journalists does not mean that its use will be beneficial to the news enterprise as a whole.’
By Robert G. Picard
Technology Diminishes Journalists’ Value
An Antidote for Web Overload (12 comments)
With a hunger for explanatory guidance amid the raging storm of Web news flashes, a journalist stresses context to attract digital users.
By Matt Thompson
Digital Media’s Key to Success: Must-Read Content (3 comments)
In observing what enables some content creators to draw steady and good-sized audiences, lessons emerge about the common factors that make this happen.
By Brian Reich
Dealing With Disruption
As digital media gets ‘better, faster and cheaper. … [there is] little time for long-established human institutions like journalism to adapt.’
By Jon Palfreman
Building Community | Journalists’ New Journey
What’s Old Can Be New Again—Assisted By Digital Media (1 comment)
‘It’s not a digital update of the newspaper, but it is a digital update of the community connection role I first learned about as a youth in Shenandoah.’
By Steve Buttry
Inviting the Rise of the Entrepreneurial Journalist (3 comments)
True/Slant is modeling the newsroom of the future by empowering contributors to build their own digital brands—and by changing the role of the editor.
By Lewis DVorkin
Ours, Theirs and the Bloggers’ Zones: Compatible, Yet Different
Over the years, creating community on the Telegraph’s Web site has come to mean a lot more than someone leaving a comment at the bottom of an article.
By Shane Richmond
A Photographer’s Journey: From Newspapers to Social Media (3 comments)
An Essay in Words and Photographs
By Jim MacMillan
Reporting Relies on Questions: Now They Come From Readers (4 comments)
At MyReporter.com, StarNews readers get the conversation going by asking about what’s on their minds, and then reporters respond.
By Vaughn Hagerty
An Explosion Prompts Rethinking of Twitter and Facebook (2 comments)
‘… this explosion was our “aha” moment in experiencing how social media, Twitter, in particular, opens up new possibilities in journalism.’
By Courtney Lowery
Curator’s Corner
Preparing to Cover a Pandemic: A New Guide for Journalists
‘The idea behind this guide is to provide an accessible, trusted resource in case the H1N1 strain, or any new or known flu strain, strikes in more deadly form.’
By Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
Adapting Investigative Reporting Skills to Policy Advocacy (5 comments)
‘My motto remains what it was when I reported on immigration: always hard-headed, never hard-hearted.’
By Jerry Kammer
An Opposing Viewpoint: The Struggle to Be Heard (1 comment)
By Jerry Kammer
Embedding a Reporter With a Shakespearean Production
In moderating a blog and facilitating community reads and talk-backs, a journalist brings new voices and insights to arts coverage.
By Alicia Anstead
Earning Trust | Credibility Through Conversation
The 21st Century Journalist’s Creed (3 comments)
A former newspaper editor urges journalists to ‘let go of the sense that we have control and recognize how much better public service journalism can be when we accept the public as true partners.’
By Michael R. Fancher
The Public and Journalists: They Disagree on Core Values (5 comments)
By Esther Thorson and Michael R. Fancher
Why the News Media Became Irrelevant—And How Social Media Can Help (16 comments)
‘Only the savviest of journalists are using the networks for the real value they provide in today’s culture—as ways to establish relationships and listen to others.’
By Michael Skoler
Media Users, Media Creators: Principles of Active Engagement
In transforming ‘ourselves from passive consumers of media into active users … we’ll have to instill throughout our society principles that add up to critical thinking and honorable behavior.’
By Dan Gillmor
Creating Ethical Bridges From Journalism to Digital News (1 comment)
‘… what appears on Web sites and on blogs is not generally regarded as adhering to standards that govern legacy news organizations.’
By Jan Leach
Closing the Credibility Gap
Web users have developed a set of tools for deciding what to trust online, and now journalists can learn from them.
By Scott Rosenberg
Blogging: Taking a Look After a Decade of Growth
By Jonathan Seitz
MediaBugs: Correcting Errors and Conversing
Confessing Errors in a Digital Age (3 comments)
‘With accuracy as the foundation of media credibility, setting the record straight is essential to restoring trust that is eroded by errors.’
By Scott R. Maier
Spreading the News | Impact and Engagement
Blogging Communities Spurred to Action (3 comments)
‘Coverage of civil rights and social justice issues could be made the core of a digital news organization, national or global in scope.’
By Leonard Witt
Internet Censorship: The Myth, Oft Told, and the Reality
Protests in Iran and China have spotlighted the use of social media, showing its power in finding ways to push information past barriers set up by government.
By Fons Tuinstra
Engaging Youth in Social Media: Is Facebook the New Media Frontier? (1 comment)
A research project creates experimental applications for Facebook to learn whether the news habit can be fostered online and lead to civic engagement.
By Christine Greenhow and Jeff Reifman
Words & Reflections
Afghanistan-ism: An Apt Metaphor for Foreign News Reporting (3 comments)
When independent judgment isn’t valued in the work journalists do overseas, the consequences for the nation can be devastating.
By John Maxwell Hamilton
Foreign News Reporting: Its Past Can Guide Its Future
By Jonathan Seitz
George Weller Reported on World War II From Five Continents
By Jan Gardner
The Netroots: Bloggers and the 2008 Presidential Campaign
From their position in the ‘outermost reaches of the campaigns and the daily news cycle, [bloggers] managed to break into that once-impenetrable world.’ What difference did they make?
By John McQuaid
An Argument Why Journalists Should Not Abandon Objectivity (1 comment)
‘… objectivity does not require that journalists be blank slates free of bias. In fact, objectivity is necessary precisely because they are biased.’
Book Excerpt by Alex S. Jones
The Newsroom’s Disdain for Revealing Reporters’ Political Leanings
A journalist argues that maintaining ‘the veneer of political impartiality devalues reporting and marginalizes the press’s fundamental role in our democracy.’
By Reed Richardson
Spies and Journalists: Taking a Look at Their Intersections (1 comment)
Moscow recruited journalists for their access, insights and confidential information.
By Murray Seeger
Learning About China’s Changes While Teaching Journalism (2 comments)
A U.S. journalism professor returns to China—after two decades—and discovers from his students all that has changed and what remains the same.
By James Ross