Some media stories of note for Wednesday, May 15, 2013:The Guardian is reporting
that China is attempting to curtail the blogging activities of writers and intellectuals by closing their social media accounts. In recent weeks notable social justice critics have been silenced in social media. There were other recent efforts to curtail mainstream media's use of western-based content.
The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has defended the seizure of telephone records of The Associated Press. The New York Times reports
he says the article that prompted the seizure arose from a serious leak of information with serious national security implications that put Americans at risk. The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan,
weighs in with a critique of the Obama Administration as one of the most secretive and threatening to the press, with implications for readers and democracy. The Times' media writer, David Carr,
looks at how it's not only government snooping on us, but all of us snooping on all of us. The New Yorker is releasing
the technical specs on Strongbox, software that permits reporters to cover their tracks as they reach out to the magazine. It uses a particular network and masks your IP address, information about your computer and browser, and won't plant cookies or third-party content. AllThingsDigital surmises
that the release of the program, created by the late Aaron Swartz, is aimed at letting other organizations create their own versions.
In his latest The Media Equation column,
The New York Times' David Carr notes the problem of the "burped up" thought that is Twitter, particularly when it intersects with professional expectations.Carr cites the recent suspension of CNN's Roland Martin following a Tweet during last week's Super Bowl. Carr writes a thoughtful and self-deprecating look at the challenge of using social media when his employer has high standards.
The instant judgment isn't always congruent with the overall judgment.He concludes that 140 characters makes it difficult to be journalistic, even if it is fun and even if is a requirement.
With a U.S. election looming, Twitter has created a new hub to train journalists on best practices to use the microblogging service.
The @TwitterforNews account shares, in 140 characters or less, tips for journalists. But the hub, Twitter for Newsrooms
, is a more thorough guide to researching, reporting, engaging, networking and maintaining security.
"We want to make our tools easier to use so you can focus on your job: finding sources, verifying facts, publishing stories, promoting your work and yourself—and doing all of it faster and faster all the time," the service says on the site.
Let's face it, as much as we love Twitter
, it has limitations that transcend the 140-character limit: problems with attaching media, a cap on the number of Tweets you see before having to click for more, and only minor information on who is Tweeting.
Today that started to change
with some accounts and will sweep over the 145-million-plus Twitterverse (Twittersphere?) in the next number of weeks. Twitter has a new design, partnerships to embed media, more information on related content, and greater biographical sketches and content accessible about users.
Any news organization that isn't using Twitter to solicit and share content is missing the greatest free tool to build community in recent history. Today, though, Twitter took its game to a new level.
There are still hiccups: the fail whale surfaces only too often, content goes missing in curious ways and reappears even more oddly, and one still feels as a user that it's necessary to back up one's contributions because (thinking irrationally) the whole enterprise might come crashing down.
The move today is a positive sign and a helpful one to newsrooms.
On Tuesday Twitter will at last introduce
its plan to monetize the millions of Tweets it now enables to freely course across its microblogging service. Get ready because eventually it will invade your Twitter stream.
Promoted Tweets will, in essence, promote what an advertiser wants when a user searches for a particular term. It will permit advertisers to insert themselves into the real-time conversation on Twitter, something they've had difficulty doing to date.
Twitter promises no irrelevant Tweets will make their way to you, even though it plans in its next phase of development to send Tweets you didn't subscribe to or search for. That will prove highly controversial because Twitter has conditioned users to not receive unwanted information.
To mitigate possible negative response it has created a relevance criteria that will gauge the effectiveness of messages --- how often they were read, replied shared and so on.
Everyone had to know that, sooner or later, the party would end. Twitter is trying to find a way to send people along relatively happy.
For a few months now Twitter has mounted a Web site with a best practices approach on how journalists can use its microblogging service.Twitter Media
is replete with case studies, how-to guides, and a better understanding of how Twitter can be of value to a newsroom when information needs to be gathered and distributed.
Of particular interest to news organizations are the approaches others have taken, what they've learned and how they've changed their ways.
Twitter today announced
a new feature that will permit other Web sites to provide a bit of its experience without having to click to Twitter.com.
The @anywhere feature, announced at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, is a bit miasmic at the moment. Twitter's blog suggests it will permit sites to use a couple of lines of Java script to layer Twitter on top of their site --- thus, you could follow a reporter at a news site by running the mouse over her byline.
"With @anywhere, web site owners and operators will be able to offer visitors more value with less heavy lifting," Twitter co-founder Ev Williams blogs.
It isn't exactly Twitter's entry into the business sweepstakes. That road lies ahead. But, despite the vague information, it seems a good little path.
Arizona State business journalism chair Tim McGuire takes on the view
that Twitter is taking the craft down the wrong road. His latest post recognizes that Twitter, like all instant information services, can skimp on the discipline of verification.
But he also notes that journalists have wanted exactly a tool like Twitter forever. "Twitter is a wonderful tool which, like any tool, can be used or abused," he notes.
Now that journalists have it, they simply have to learn how to use it properly.
"What is crucial is that all the things journalists know about truth, accuracy, checking out stories, sources, facts and context remain sacred. Just because there is now a tool that allows us to regurgitate everything we hear when we hear it does not mean that’s good journalism," he writes.
We are approaching a billion Twitter search queries daily and several billion Tweets hourly.
That, says co-founder Biz Stone, makes the service more than a microblogger. It's a real-time information network to be taken much more seriously as people share what's happening.
Stone, in a retrospective piece for the Times of London,
believes Twitter is an example of the "triumph of humanity."
Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, confirms today
that the microblogging service will launch commercial services aimed at businesses later this year in an effort to monetize the wildly popular but free social network.
Stone says the business service will produce analytics to help them understand how they're performing on Twitter, help them identify and tailor content to followings, and presumably help them track trends and particular opportunities. Then will come business-oriented APIs to create a commercial layer.
Twitter has been coy about its plans for monetization for months, but in recent weeks has produced guides for businesses on how to best use its service. That ought to have twigged for people. Today's announcement, though, is clearer.
Also clear is the message that, for most of us, Twitter will remain free. No changes are coming there, Stone asserts.