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.
The TNS research firm has released
the largest-ever study of media use behaviour. Not surprisingly it points to rapid adoption of the Internet. But it also demonstrates that several countries are embracing digital more rapidly than are others.
Among the highlights of the study:
1. The Internet has surpassed television as the most-used medium.
2. Rapid-growth markets like China and Egypt have surpassed mature markets.
3. Blogging and social networking are blooming in these rapid-growth markets.
4. Social networking growth has been spurred by the rise of mobile.
5. As email wanes, social networking rises.
A new report
from the AVG Security firm shows that the vast majority of young children have a digital presence. Indeed, one-quarter of children have sonograms online before they're born.
The research indicates the typical digital "birth" starts at six months. But a surprising number of parents post sonograms --- 37% in Canada and 34% in the U.S.
By the age of two, 92% of Americans have some sort of digital presence. Some 70% said they wanted to share images with friends and family.
The survey of 2,200 mothers in North America, Europe and Asia was conducted in the final week of September.
When you activate something for 500 million accounts, it automatically takes on significance. The move by Facebook to add location-based service
to its network is a sign the concept has arrived to the mainstream.
Facebook calls its service Places and it permits check-ins at a variety of, well, places. It strives to help you understand more about your Facebook friends' preferences and traits of consumption and activity.
It complements, rather than competes with, existing services like Foursquare and Gowalla, and its implications for journalism are not revolutionary as much as they're further impetus to get in the game.
While check-ins are bound to become a commodity in the time ahead --- particularly as services provide it more readily --- the rich stream of data that comes from them will be very useful for all companies in the information business.
Journalism will benefit in understanding more about events and places from the user base willing to give access to their locations. But the stream of behavioural data will be even more important.
Social media's growth in the last year --- a whopping 43% rise in time spent --- has placed it atop the list of online activities among Americans, the Nielsen media research firm suggests.
Americans now spend nearly one-quarter
(22.7%) of all their online time on such activities as Facebook, Twitter and other social networks and such media. That is well ahead of such activities as gaming (10.2%) and email (8.3%). Videos and movies were the only other activity to witness strong growth in the year, Nielsen says.
Having noted that, the mobile sector has witnessed a real surge in email activity. It comprises more than 41% of mobile time. Spending time on portals ranked second.
This week Facebook
launched its Facebook + Media page
to help news and other organizations make the most of their relationship with the social networking site.
The aim is to help journalists, programmers and others understand best practices inside Facebook --- how to reach the largest audience, optimally share content, participate in conversations about it and track the buzz.
It's the first such attempt by Facebook to reach out to an industry increasingly using it as a newsgathering, conversational and distribution channel. It ought to spur organizations to produce standardized approaches to using Facebook, obviously with some variations.
Face-to-face contact hasn't gone out of style, but we all know that new tools abound to stay informed. A new study
from the Pew Internet and American Life Project quantifies the trends.
It found that one-fifth of Americans (and 27% of Internet users) used digital tools to understand more about community issues. And 22% of adults (and 28% of Internet users) used either text messaging or email alerts to gain information. Some 11% used blogs to stay up to date on local matters.
Of those signed up for text and email alerts, 13% signed up for school events (closures for weather, for instance), 11% used them for weather warnings, 5% for crime data and 4% for traffic congestion.
The study was conducted late last year involving 2,258 Americans. Its findings are considered accurate within 2.8 points.
The resource Media Helping Media has fashioned a basic list
of what to do and what not in social networking. For any newsroom launching into such, it has a nice primer feel to it.
Among the do-not-dare list:
1. Don't treat it as novel. It's getting old by Internet standards.
2. Don't call it new media. It's not.
3. Don't leave it to your online team. Get everyone into it.
4. Don't snigger. Enough said.
5. Don't miss the story. Sometimes the mere existence of a social networking phenomenon, even before it's a verified piece of journalism, is news in itself.
As for the to-do list:
1. Tweet as soon as you verify.
2. Bring glad tidings. Create something original for social networking.
3. Change your newsroom tools. Permit journalists to see what's happening in that sphere.
4. Widen the contacts. Explore relationships with those who would help.
5. Be social. Appreciate ideas, help back.
The Canadian research firm Sysomos has compiled
a billion Tweets of data to identify who is really, really using Twitter. The answer in short form: The people who have experience.
Now, it might be that the people who have experience are also the ones who have come to like it --- and thus use it. But what the data also indicate is a discouragement phase, somewhere between three and six months into using it. The heavy users seem to be in the period up to three months and again after nine.
The data also indicate Twitter is growing more outside the United States than inside it.
Sysomos suggests there now are about 53 million Tweets daily. The total has grown 30 per cent in the last four months alone.
The Online Journalism Review's Robert Niles recently delivered a speech in Singapore on the modern newsroom's challenges.
He advocates using technological understanding
to build a social network to drive audience and revenue --- a basic view of almost every news manager these days --- but provides a good guide on how to get there.
Some of his ideas:
1. Get to know major bloggers in the community.
2. Get to know those blogging on your major beats.
3. Keep a list of Twitter users with more than 1,000 followers.
4. Use mathematicians to understand who in your community is most influential.
On those four points, our newsroom scores four for four. We have connections with the bloggers, the specialists, the big Tweeters and with NowPublic.com to create an annual influencers list.