Marshall Kirkpatrick's Blog Discovering awesome new things on the Internet since 2005.

Newsletter - About this blog - I love to Tweet - My work history on LinkedIn - Press clippings

Social Media is Not Ruining Journalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I found myself responding to a Google+ thread this morning wherein a respected technology leader said “copying and pasting from social networking sites is not journalism.” Apparently he’d been seeing random Tweets referenced on TV and thought it was lazy, pointless and a sign that journalism is going down the tubes.

I’ll leave his name out of it because I’ve totally copied and pasted things he’s posted online before as the basis for acts of journalism myself!

I do take issue with the idea that the trend of bringing curated social media into other types of media is a bad idea. Here’s why, from my comment on Google+. I edited it to make it more clear.

I respectfully disagree.

1. Had you seen those tweets yourself already? Discovery, curation and contextualization of publicly available information has long been an important part of journalism.

2. If it’s random peoples’ random tweets being shared, that doesn’t sound like a value add, but there certainly is potential there for journalists to integrate multiple types of media to add value. Some Tweets are good to include, some Tweets are not. I find a lot of news on Twitter and sometimes include the tweets themselves in my reporting.

3. I would argue that journalism is expanding and you’re seeing a lot more of new types of journalism: quick hits to catch busy people up on news, curation of reports elsewhere, etc. but there’s still old-fashioned journalism being performed as well. I’m watching the Al Jazeera iPad app right now and it’s great.

I’m also working on a big article about Walmart’s mobile strategy. I’ve been working on it for a week. I’m using lots of online social media, bots, virtual assistants and hope to have 4 or 5 interviews included in my research. In the meantime, though, I’ll probably write 10 other posts for which I didn’t take the time to do interviews. All of that rolled up together = contemporary journalism. Go read some tweets, then go read some longform.org or such things.

I don’t think it’s as dismal as you think.

In fact – I think we’re making a difficult transition into a new golden age of journalism. I hope so, at least.

That said, there is a feeling of pressure to work ever faster. From a previous comment in the same conversation.

It’s hard to scale, but we honestly do try to interview people whenever we can. (I know I totally copied and pasted a comment from you awhile ago though too!) I do probably 5-7 interviews a week by phone or IM for 15 blog posts I write. I wish I could do more, but I have to rely on search and discussion with my own co-workers in most cases. I can’t spend more than 90 minutes on most of those stories and sometimes that precludes being able to connect with someone to interview. Sad but true.

Given all that – online social media is where a lot of conversation is happening and it can be incredibly valuable to news research. Sometimes that’s done well and sometimes that’s done poorly.

  • Darin Codon

    Taking 40 to 90 hours to write a well researched story has become difficult for American Journalism. It’s sad because more than ever clarification of fact is needed more than ever.

  • Great to know the — in depth from this blog.This will really help for my forward steps to be taken.

  • Yup. It’s not all bad news, though.

  • Great to know the — in depth from this blog.This will really help for my forward steps to be taken.

  • Great to know the — in depth from this blog.This will really help for my forward steps to be taken.

  • A really good example of how social media is *enhancing* journalism: Andy Carvin’s (@acarvin) coverage of the uprisings in the Mideast on Twitter. Jay Rosen actually called what he’s doing “innovation in journalism.” More info:

    https://twitter.com/#!/emahlee/statuses/51852972321284097
    https://twitter.com/#!/emahlee/statuses/51854714547093504
    https://twitter.com/#!/emahlee/statuses/52442255830695936
    https://twitter.com/#!/emahlee/statuses/52450324899831809

  • Xuggzizz

    Ethical bloggers need to notate. Or be clearly identified as comments / opinions.
    Also previously creditable magazines and especially major news sites need to clearly identify blogger articles as opinions, and should require notations similar to wikipedias requirements.

    The large percent of blogs ( not this one, of course, are just BS to get ad hits, with emotional wrenching Titles full of lies, and top search keywords).

  • Xuggzizz

    Ethical bloggers need to notate. Or be clearly identified as comments / opinions.
    Also previously creditable magazines and especially major news sites need to clearly identify blogger articles as opinions, and should require notations similar to wikipedias requirements.

    The large percent of blogs ( not this one, of course, are just BS to get ad hits, with emotional wrenching Titles full of lies, and top search keywords).

  • Anonymous

    Not being able to interview before the story is out could actually be a good thing, provided most of the audience reads (or comes back to) the story *after* the interview has been added. For instance, it gives PR a sense of urgency, and allows them to see how reactions evolve when, say, the engineer in charge clarifies the situation.

Powered by WordPress