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.
Some media stories of note for Monday, February 25, 2013:
José van Dyck, a professor of comparative media studies at University of Amsterdam, argues that social media
have taken on the qualities of mass media. While social media platforms began with a promise of connectivity, independence and a restoration of the public sphere for users, the major platforms now are partners with established media and are driven by many of the same values. "Online socializing, as it now seems, is inimically mediated by a techno-economic logic anchored in the principles of popularity and winner-takes-all principles that enhance the pervasive logic of mass media instead of offering alternatives," she writes for the Oxford University Press blog.
On Friday, the Women's Media Center released its annual Status of Women in U.S. Media report
, and the results do not demonstrate much advancement. Indeed, the percentage of women in U.S. newspaper newsrooms was the same in 2012 (36.9 per cent) as it was in 1999. Six online newsrooms studied were overwhelmingly male, and female participation in Sunday talk shows or roundtable discussions was quite low. The Center calls the gender gap a "crisis" in media.
The satirical site, The Onion, has expressed an apology for a Tweet during the Oscars that characterized Quvenzhané Wallis, the nine-year-old Academy Award actress nominee, with a vulgarity. The Tweet, taken down within an hour, prompted widespread outrage. The Onion's CEO called the Tweet
a "senseless, humorless act" said it has tightened its procedures and disciplined those responsible. Andrew Beaujon of Poynter has a roundup
of the issue.
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.
At a relatively early stage of his career, Vadim Lavrusik is articulating well the emerging nature of our craft in a voice that is nuanced and scholarly. His latest post
for Mashable is a good primer on the direction of journalism as it employs social media.
First off, he says, all media will be social.
Beyond that, though, is an array of features that will in broad outline define journalism:
1. Collaborative reporting.
2. Journalists will manage communities.
3. Social media will be integrated.
4. Online curation for the time-poor.
5. Social networks will be editors.
6. Social content will be monetized.
7. Social newsrooms will feature personal brands.
8. Mobile will engage.
The New York Times reviews the declaration last week that the Web is dead by contending with media history. Its conclusion
: Media adapt to newcomers and rarely die just because of them.
"Today, traditional media companies face the adaptive challenge posed by the Internet. That challenge is not just the technology itself, but how it has altered people’s habits of media consumption," writes Steve Lohr.
But Lohr notes that history shows evolution, not dissolution, is the order of the day when media are threatened by new forms of communication. What is different this time is the speed of change and the disruption of consumption patterns. As one academic tells him, change has changed.
College students don't wear watches, they carry cellphones as time pieces. They don't email, they text. People don't talk as much on phones; they text and arrange calls for important matters. People aren't blogging as much; instead, they're using social networks to tell their stories.
A report today from the Pew Internet & American Life Project
suggests social media is fast becoming the communication format of choice among older Americans.
The report surveyed Internet-connected adults in May and found 42 per cent of those aged 50 and older were using social media, up from 22 per cent a year earlier. Among those aged 50 to 64 growth was 88 per cent (47 per cent, compared to 25 per cent a year ago), and among those 65 and older it was 100 per cent (26 per cent, compared to 13 per cent a year ago).
Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social networking tools, but the report found that one in five older adults use them daily. Email continues to be the strongest form of communication digitally for older adults --- it is no longer so for younger adults --- but in the last year Pew found that one in 10 Internet users aged 50 and older now use Twitter or another service to update their networks, double the number of a year ago.
The study also found that online news consumption remains high among older adults. Three-quarters of older adults look to the Internet for news and 42 per cent do so daily. Among those aged 65 and older, 62 per cent use the Internet to consume news and 34 per cent do so daily.
There is an important caveat in the study: It is, like all such studies, a survey of Internet-connected older adults. But it does suggest a swiftly emerging demographic of interest for the news business.
A new report from Borrell Associates
indicates the growth of social network marketing will be ferocious in the years ahead. The question: Will it be properly applied?
This year about 11% of marketing spending will go to social networks. Borrell predicts that number will grow to one-third of such spending by 2015, representing $38 billion.
And the ratio of promotional spending compared to advertising spending across social networks will increase --- from about 1:3 today to about 1.75:1 by 2015. In other words, $1.75 in promotion will be spent for every dollar in advertising across social networks within five years, Borrell suggests.
Borrell notes, though, that it's difficult to measure the scope and effectiveness of such spending, and that firms use their social networks as a mass medium instead of one that needs targeting.
Without any really large story online --- yet --- there are several headlines worth discussing:
1. Facebook is going to launch
location-based service soon. Loopt is also going to upgrade
its location-based offerings to permit multitasking and location updating.The implications are significant for news organizations aiming to use Facebook for crowdsourcing and storytelling.
2. Apple has issued its new operating system
for the iPhone, tailored for the iPhone4 but still applicable to iPhone3.
3. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post and CNN writes on how
non-profit organizations are filling some of the gaps left when newsrooms de-emphasize investigative work.
4. The New York Times announced
former editor and publisher Arthur Brisbane as its new public editor. He succeeds Clark Hoyt. The implications of his appointment: As goes the Times in identifying standards for the craft, so can go the craft.
I spent some time this week with Power Friending,
the new book from Amber Mac,
the Canadian digital media luminary.
It's a breezily written, thoroughly understandable guide to gain greater attention with social media, and I'd recommend it for all but the most advanced social media user.
I suspect its target audience is the large segment of business still fumbling with the platforms of Facebook, Twitter and others --- she is adroit at describing the impediments many firms create in the way of success --- but I found useful elements for the craft of journalism and many helpful tips for bloggers.
The book largely deals with how to gain attention, in particular with how to behave and present. Mac has an ABC approach: authenticity, bravery and consistency. She repeats it through the book as an encouragement and she celebrates examples of how that simple approach has made successes of followers and failures of rogues. It is embedded by book's end.
Power Friending has a nice flow to it, from easier to harder and simpler to more ambitious, and I can imagine where some readers will simply get off the train as the book burrows more deeply into the steps necessary to excel in the social media sphere.
But if you're trying to build such a presence --- or fix the one you have --- I think it's a good idea to stay onboard to the end. I found very little I could quarrel with in her approach, in the tools she recommends, and in the basic execution of the program to achieve more attention, and I can imagine a much better business climate if more adhered to her approaches.
What I didn't find --- and this might be a matter of a journalist looking for material inside a book aimed at business --- was much writing on the strength of social media in eliciting information. Social media's conversation also involves learning much more than your teach in many instances, and I think she could have elaborated on how business and others can use it to build expertise. It's far more focused on directing you to widen attention for your work and dealing with your customers.
But Mac has some basic predictions that seem very sensible: the real-time Web, location-based services, social shopping, QR codes, augmented reality, mobile meet-ups, Internet-connected devices, open social networks and people-powered customer services. Any one of these is deservedly a book on its own, and I wanted a little more of Mac's mind and a little less of her resource list. Having seen her work across platforms, I know there's more of a thinker in there. What we get in Power Friending is more of the doer.
Having said that, Power Friending is a book we needed some time ago. I hope it paves the way for many more versions that guide social networking conduct. Mac has blazed a nice trail for them.
Traditional media have written extensively on social media.
Traditional media have written extensively against social media.
But now traditional media are writing about social media in a different way: How people are finding it overwhelming and determining to rebalance their consumption.
The Los Angeles Times' On The Media blog chronicles this phenomenon in its latest post
. Fatigue is setting in after a real escapade into social media. But it's not as if people are leaving.
"We continue to fumble around for the right balance. But most aren't quitting because of the annoyances. They're regrouping and redeploying," writes James Rainey.
He notes Clay Shirky's observation: This new form of communications is something we grow into, not leave.