Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category


Dick Costolo and Twitter’s future for journalists

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo resigned Thursday as pressure to increase user growth continued. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo resigned Thursday as pressure to increase user growth continued. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

Yesterday, it was announced that Dick Costolo would step down as chief executive of Twitter, and be replaced on July 1st by Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of the site and himself a former chief executive. The move comes amid increasing pressure on the social network to grow the number of active users (according to a report from The New York Times, the social network currently has 302 million users.)

Twitter, in its form of live streaming the events of the world, has become an essential tool for journalists, and the resignation of Costolo may indicate changes as to what Twitter will become moving forward. Indeed, with the questions surrounding user growth, what may happen as Dorsey takes over and as new features are discussed and implemented may have a significant effect on the relationship with Twitter and news organizations.

While it is difficult to predict what is ahead, this is an important time for journalists to pay attention to Twitter’s outlook, particularly as it comes towards their own social strategy.

As Dorsey and his colleagues consider the moves however, there is one thing they should bear in mind, the simpler the social network, the better. If you try to make things complex, users will be hesitant to try it, or indeed recommend it to their friends or colleagues.

The same rule goes for journalists, who recently were considered to be the most active, verified community on the social network. If Dorsey allows Twitter to remain simple, and integrate in features that would not have a significant impact on the interface that many users see, it can help journalists do better work on the platform. That might include an editing tool, which Sara Catania of NBC 4 Southern California told me when I wrote about it last year, was something long overdue for Twitter.

The question of user growth will be one that will continue to be one that presents itself as Dorsey takes over as chief executive. But as he decides to figure out Twitter’s next chapter as a social network, he must consider his users, especially the many journalists that use the social network, for one move may change everything, either for better or for worse.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also contributes to The News Hub web site. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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The Power of a Picture

The saying goes “a picture tells 1,000 words,” but what happens when those 1,000 are misleading, untrue and misinformed? This is the situation that was created, according to Snopes, when a Boston columnist and radio personality tweeted a picture of an Army veteran who is a double amputee and CrossFit athlete. Gerry Callahan, the columnist, implied in his tweet that the veteran was the runner up to Caitlyn Jenner who was named the winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award given by ESPN. Now, I am not going to take a stance on whether Jenner should have won the award or not or whether the veteran should have won the award or not, but this is prime example of how the Internet and social media have the power to spread information at lightning speed whether it is true or not.

The rumor spread so rapidly and elicited such negative responses that ESPN released a statement about the award and a spokesperson for ESPN said in an article with MTV there “no such thing as a runner up for the three major awards” (Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Pat Tillman Award for Service and the Jimmy V Perseverance Award). It is understandable that people are going to have opinions about Jenner winning the award — what do people not have an opinion about? — but the problem comes in when people start sharing information that isn’t true or misleading.

This can happen just as easily with a tweet or Facebook updated during a major event. A supposed witness shares something on social media, news organizations and journalists pick it up, and all of a sudden the majority of people are believing one thing happened when in reality the opposite occurred. It isn’t a new lesson that people need to be wary of information they read on the Internet, but it is definitely one people should be reminded of repeatedly because sharing wrong information will only continue.

This is one area where journalists can be a service to the public. They need to be the ones fact checking the information they are sharing and looking in to what people are sharing around them. Journalists should be the ones who are cracking the rumors and informing the public what is fact and what is speculation. As social media use increases and more people have access to the Internet throughout the world, journalists should be increasing their awareness of what is going on and doing their best to ensure people are informed on the facts instead of the rumors.

Taylor Barker, a member of the Ithaca College chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is the student representative for SPJ Digital. Barker is also an editorial intern for The Miss Information. You can follow her on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Instant Articles: A revolution in journalism

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Today, Facebook is launching its Instant Articles initiative, where news organizations will be hosting content on the social network’s site.

The official confirmation comes in a blog post from Facebook after previous reports, most notably in March from the New York Times, prompting rampant speculation as to what role Facebook would have, and how it would exactly affect the relationship it had with publishers.

There are nine publishers taking part, including the Times, BuzzFeed and the BBC. The feature is to start on Facebook’s iPhone platform, but expand in the coming months, the social network said, noting more publishers would also be involved in due course. Additionally, publishers are to take the revenue generated from advertisements in that content. Facebook says it allows publishers to provide a better experience for readers.

In that blog post, Mark Thompson, the chairman of The New York Times Company, said the move was significant because of the Times’ audience on the platform.

“The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook,” Thompson said. “We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement.”

With the release of this initiative, this opens a new chapter in social media journalism, especially Facebook’s role, and will be a revolution in the relationship between the consumer and the news organization.

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

While it is early and the number of partners are limited, the move by Facebook, and indeed speculation of acquisitions and experiments by other social network sites, notably Twitter’s rumored acquisition of Circa, and Snapchat’s decision to hire Peter Hamby as head of news which is likely to affect its Discover feature, this will lead to a change in the thinking of journalism in the social media age.

Facebook has taken the bold step by becoming more than just a way to curate discussion on the news. It has become the news.

Today’s launch of Instant Articles will have significant implications on journalists working on the web. The relationship between social media and editorial content has changed, and while whether if it is positive or negative remains for the moment uncertain, it will change not just how we think about a story, but how we can engage with our audiences.

This is an important time for journalists near and far to consider this initiative and the future of their role in social media journalism, not just on Facebook, but on other platforms, for more moves like this may be on the horizon. We owe it to not just our colleagues in the profession, but ultimately our audience, to be ready for what is ahead, whether you write for a newspaper, produce for TV or radio or for online.

Facebook has shown us what is ahead in social media journalism, and perhaps for the industry as a whole. It is up to us to how we respond to it.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Could Twitter be more than a curator?

Twitter is said to be considering buying the mobile app Circa, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is said to be considering buying the mobile app Circa, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is known by many journalists to be a curator for information, allowing a new way to inform and engage audiences on various subjects. But a recent report may suggest Twitter may be going beyond its curating role.

A report from the Business Insider web site suggests that Twitter is considering acquiring the mobile app Circa. Sources mentioned in the report tell the site that no deal has been reached, and is a route the social network is considering.

The founder of Circa, Matt Galligan, told the site that he had been considering numerous options, but declined to discuss options with Twitter. Twitter, for its part, did not discuss any conversations with Business Insider.

“We didn’t put Circa up for sale,” Galligan said. “We’ve got a term sheet for a Series A on the table, but after evaluating all the inbound interest from potential acquiring parties, we decided we wanted to give more attention to those conversations.”

While nothing formal is in place, this raises an interesting question onto the role Twitter has in the newsroom, and if perhaps the social network would be going beyond a curatorial role, and enter an editorial production role.

Facebook is considering an editorial move, with the social network being the host for news and articles from various publishers. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Facebook is considering letting publishers keep all of the revenue from certain advertisements, as the Instant Articles initiative is said to debut this month.

The rumors surrounding Twitter’s possible Circa acquisition may perhaps be considered a response to Facebook’s move, and creating a new way to tackle distribution and the role of content in the social age. Whether it comes to fruition is uncertain, but it may lead to how more social networks think about their relationships with newsrooms, and more widely, how journalists view the relationship between not just social media and audience engagement, but social media and the editorial process.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Learning from Chicago’s social runoff

Rahm Emanuel, who won re-election as Chicago mayor after the first runoff in city history. (Photo: danxoneil/Flickr under CC)

Rahm Emanuel, who won re-election as Chicago mayor after the first runoff in city history. (Photo: danxoneil/Flickr under CC)

On April 7, Rahm Emanuel was re-elected as the Mayor of Chicago in the first runoff for the office in the history of the city.

Emanuel, known to many as a Congressman and the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, defeated Cook County commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, 56 percent to 44 percent. The runoff came after an election earlier in February where no candidate had reached a majority of votes.

As the runoff campaign took place, Twitter had become a hub for reporting on the campaign, and for Lauren Chooljian, the City Hall reporter for NPR station WBEZ, she wanted it to become a core tool in her telling the story of the campaign.

“Because there was so much interest in the runoff (we hadn’t been there before), I wanted to be as open and transparent as possible,” Chooljian said in a telephone interview, noting she wanted to do snapshots of the campaign, with views also from voters. “As the race was ebbing and flowing (days that some thought Garcia performed better or Emanuel performed better), I did snapshots and longer pieces. I was tweeting much more often too.”

With the large profile this had gotten not just in the city, but also nationally on a political scale, Twitter had become a new way to engage not only those interested, but also attract new audiences. Chooljian had been getting followers from RTs from WBEZ’s Twitter account as well as from other followers.

However, Chooljian says, the traditional on the ground reporting still played a central role.

“Face time still means the most to the Mayor and Garcia,” Chooljian said. “All the tweets in the world can’t do what showing up and doing reporting can do. It can move the stories out further and get people involved.  I have no idea how many people hear my stories, but some of my tweets can go all over the place. Twitter is a way to reach a different segment of our audience.”

Chooljian looked at the human aspect as well of the story, trying to build the longer story of the campaign and the affect on the people of the city, and with Twitter, Chooljian said it made a difference as far as audiences go. She will continue to share her stories as she did with the campaign, and will cover City Hall the same way – trying to find that human interest, as well as information that is necessary to know.

“When it’s a big talking point, I’ll tweet about it,” Chooljian said. “It gets the info out and engages new audiences. That is when Twitter becomes a new tool for us.”

Yet, the bottom line for all journalists, Chooljian says, is trust in your reporting from audiences, whether or not it is on social media.

“If they trust your reporting, they will trust your reporting however you give it to them.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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Verify, verify, verify, especially on social media

The Journalism School at New York's Columbia University issued a report April 5 regarding inaccuracies in a Rolling Stone story. (Photo - mathewingram/Flickr under CC)

The Journalism School at New York’s Columbia University issued a report April 5 regarding inaccuracies in a Rolling Stone story. (Photo – mathewingram/Flickr under CC)

One of the biggest talking points in the journalism world at this writing is the just released report from the Columbia Journalism School on the story in Rolling Stone magazine regarding rape at the University of Virginia.

The report, which notes failures that could have been avoided, also has implications for those working in social media and digital journalism.

Indeed, while social media has changed not only how news is consumed, but also how it can be reported, the big point still remains, to verify, verify, verify.

My SPJ colleague, Andrew Seaman, the chairman of the Ethics Committee, reached by email, says verification is crucial irrespective of platform.

“It’s incredibly important to recognize that verification and attribution is as important as it is for journalists reporting for print and broadcast media,” Seaman said. “The Society’s Code of Ethics is written with the understanding that all journalism – no matter where it occurs – is journalism. In all cases, speed nor format excuses inaccuracy. Currently, journalists are fortunate to have social media and other easily available sources to corroborate or verify stories. The trick is for journalists to use these avenues as tool – not excuses.”

Indeed, as Carole McNall, an SPJ Digital member and Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University in New York state, in a note on the social networking site Twitter, indicates, Rolling Stone should do more to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“[Rolling Stone]’s apparent belief that they need to change nothing guarantees it’ll happen again,” McNall said.

For journalists, social media has allowed a new experience in how we consume and report the news, and this report should be a reminder of the basic principles of getting the facts and putting an ethical story together, whether you’re with a magazine, a broadcaster, an online publication or at a newspaper. When reporting on social media, ensure everything is accurate. Take time to verify sources and material. If you’re quoting a report from social, especially Twitter, verify it before running with it.

Social media can be essential, but used together with other reporting tools can help make a story great. Running with the facts just because they are posted on there doesn’t mean it is automatically true, so take time to verify everything before your deadline. Not only will verification of facts make you be a better journalist for it, it will help your organization grow in trust, especially in the digital world.

Remember, it is better to be right and be correct, than being first than being incorrect, and a great story has verified fact. Verify, verify, verify.

For the record, the Society of Professional Journalists issued a statement independent of this blog post, which you can read here, and you can read wider insight from Seaman on the report, posted on the SPJ Ethics blog here.

If you’re a digital journalist, I’d love to know what you think of this report and the affect on social media and other digital tools in journalism. Feel free to drop me an email or send me a tweet. I look forward to reading your feedback.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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Twitter confirms acquisition of Periscope

Twitter officially confirmed today its acquisition of the live streaming app Periscope, which had closed in January for $100 million. Twitter’s Vice President for product, Kevin Weil, made the announcement via the social networking site.

As mentioned in Wednesday’s blog post, Twitter made the acquisition as Periscope continues testing in beta mode. It is unclear when it would be released to the public, but it could have implications on news organizations and their interaction with audiences on social media, as audience feedback is a strong component of the app, according to this report from the technology news web site TechCrunch. Comments can be posted on a stream, which would be seen by viewers of the stream and the broadcaster itself, the report adds.

The TechCrunch report adds that Periscope will be launched as a separate app from Twitter, with the ability to watch live and previously broadcast streams.

Alex Veeneman is a Chicago based SPJ member who is chairman of SPJ Digital and the community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer to Kettle Magazine, an online publication based in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

This post was amended at 5:26 pm Central time to correct the date of the mentioned blog post.

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Is live streaming in Twitter’s future?

Twitter acquired the live video startup Periscope this week, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter has acquired the live video start up Periscope, which could affect Twitter’s video presence and usage by journalists. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

News has emerged this week that Twitter has bought a start up that could expand how journalists use video on social media.

Periscope, a live streaming start up, was bought by the social network for $100 million. The deal closed last month, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, but news of the deal emerged this week. Periscope is currently in beta mode and has not been released to the public.

The news of the deal comes over a week after Twitter unveiled a feature where video embedded on the platform can be embedded on a web site.

While the details are unclear as to the timing of Periscope’s release, this could be a potential new tool that could affect how journalists and news organizations use video, whether covering an event from the field or engaging audiences directly from the newsroom. This could also see an ability for Twitter to further engage potential users and could lead to an increase in user growth, a concern that investors have expressed to CEO Dick Costolo and management.

More developments are likely forthcoming, so keep your eyes peeled as Twitter’s latest acquisition may be one to watch as newsrooms look to make the best available resources of their social media strategy.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman and blogger at large of SPJ Digital, and community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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Twitter’s investor concerns are journalists’ concerns

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said user growth is a priority as the social network tries to reassure investors. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has said user growth is a priority as the social network tries to reassure concerned investors. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

As mentioned in Sunday’s blog post, Twitter reported its fourth quarter earnings last week. The social network had 288 million monthly active users according to its earnings release, with 80 percent of the active users using mobile apps.

One of the primary issues that investors raised with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and his managerial colleagues was that of user growth. Prior to the release of the earnings information, it was announced Twitter would enter a partnership with Google, to allow tweets to appear real time in searches.

Indeed, as the New York Times reported last week, Twitter executives are keen to emphasize that the reach of the social network extends beyond the usage of the network itself, be it on desktop or mobile, noting the appearance of embedded tweets, something frequently used on a number of news sites.

There are similarities with this strategy with the Google deal, however it is unclear when the Google-Twitter partnership would begin. Costolo, as reported by the Times, said it may not occur for at least a few months.

But as the concerns continue surrounding user growth, what does this say for Twitter’s long standing relationship with journalists and newsrooms? Could social strategies be thrown into question? Or, as Twitter executives attempt to prove the reach of the social network beyond its own services, could news organizations perhaps be part of the solution?

Twitter provides a distinct advantage for news organizations because it works in the nature of what is happening at the moment. It allows for an expansion of the relationship between audiences and news organizations. While it is unclear as to how the social network’s strategy will play with users, Twitter will need to be cautious on how they approach such a strategy in getting users.

Some features may work, others may not. Some may draw users in, others may run and never come back. That could include newsrooms, as they would reconsider what their best plans would be when it comes to social. The simpler the platform, the better the ability for quality interaction, whether it comes to UGC for a story or the ability to engage with the audience, no matter the beat.

Dick Costolo has a lot to consider as the weeks and months go ahead, and the decisions he makes on Twitter’s future is riding on not just whether he can restore the trust of investors, but users, and ultimately, journalists.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman and blogger at large of SPJ Digital, and community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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How can Twitter video help journalism?

Twitter unveiled its new video feature allowing 30 second videos to be uploaded. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter unveiled its new video feature allowing 30 second videos to be uploaded. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter unveiled January 27 two new features – the ability to send direct messages privately to groups, and the ability to upload 30 second video clips directly through the social networking site.

The features were unveiled amid uncertainty with the social network’s investors that user growth would be possible. In an interview quoted from Bloomberg, Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo said user growth remained a priority, as the social network reported its fourth quarter earnings last Friday.

Twitter had also announced that real time tweets would be appearing in Google searches, in a deal with the search engine. It is unclear when that feature would be made available to the public.

Yet, with the introduction of Twitter’s 30 second video feature, potential is introduced for journalists and newsrooms. Twitter’s video feature goes up against Vine’s 6 second videos and Facebook owned Instagram’s 15 second videos. The video feature is reported to be made available to users within the coming days.

In a telephone interview, Katie Hawkins-Gaar, Digital Innovation Faculty at the Poynter Institute, says this gives Twitter an advantage.

“Video is huge right now, both in social and digital news,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “Twitter recognizes that. The 30 second limit sets them apart.”

Hawkins-Gaar sees benefits for reporters working from the field for video to be uploaded to Twitter, but also sees benefits for the overall audience-newsroom relationship.

“Lots of journalists and newsrooms that use Twitter to look for breaking news and user generated content,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “It’s great for that. Those newsrooms are particularly excited about that content. Also those who use it use it for two way conversations with audience. I would like to see more people do that. I hope video enhances that.”

Hawkins-Gaar says that from a social standpoint, this could bring benefit to Twitter and alleviate concerns as it tries to grow.

“There is potential for it to save Twitter,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “It’s good for breaking news and things in the moment. The video feature seems to support that, especially in breaking news. People are looking for information.”

However, this feature also provides a risk, particularly for newsrooms, something that needs to be considered when looking at overall social strategy.

“If you’re a newsroom and want to focus on Twitter video, it’s time to talk about everything on social and look at where you should put your focus,” Hawkins-Gaar said.

Overall, Hawkins-Gaar appreciated the simplicity of the feature.

“One of the things that sets Twitter apart is how simple it is,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “I was happy to see how simple the video feature was. I hope they keep it that way. Focuses on short bursts of info and what’s happening in the moment. I hope it doesn’t change Twitter’s focus too much.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman of SPJ Digital and the community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

This post was amended at 5:51 pm Central Time to reflect a correction in the last paragraph.

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