Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’


A transparent Facebook

Facebook should appoint a public editor for the interests of not just news organizations, but audiences. (Photo: Pixabay)

Facebook should appoint a public editor for the interests of not just news organizations, but audiences. (Photo: Pixabay)

It has become a common theme for Facebook in the past few weeks. Another day comes, and with it comes another change to its algorithm.

The most recent change came this week, when the social network announced its plans to combat clickbait by examining headlines of articles. Some types of headlines would be considered clickbait, including, according to a blog post on its corporate web site, those headlines that are misleading or withhold specific aspects of information.

Quoted in The New York Times, Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president for product management, which oversees the News Feed, said the change was made with users’ interests in mind.

“We want publishers to post content that people care about, and we think people care about headlines that are much more straightforward,” Mosseri said.

This had raised some concerns with publishers, as well as additional concerns that they did not have insight into the decision making behind the algorithm changes, according to the Times report.

Mosseri said that he met regularly with publishers to discuss such changes, and that Facebook would be more transparent about its changes. Indeed, while transparency is all well and good, more needs to be done for a platform that has a significant influence in the relationship between consumer and news organization.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post for this blog advocating a public editor post be created within Facebook, a post that would, according to New York based journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, not edit per se, but be a voice for the public. I renew that advocacy with this post.

A creation of such a role (or perhaps multiple roles), similar to what is being done at organizations like the Times and at The Guardian, would ensure Facebook be truly transparent.

Indeed, the SPJ Code of Ethics, where under the section “Be Accountable and Transparent,” calls for a conversation about news coverage, content and journalistic practices. Even though Facebook itself is not a conventional media company, the rule should apply to them, considering the influence it has on the dissemination of information to users, as well as engagement strategies in various newsrooms.

As such, a creation of a public editor role would, in my view, support this call, and allow Facebook to be honest with not just its audience, but publishers as well, and allow for a full conversation about what role the social network can have in the future of this industry. With this role, we can understand the algorithm changes better, have our say on the changes, and help make the algorithm beneficial for the people who we serve — our audience.

While the same can be said for Twitter, Google and other platforms, having Facebook create a public editor role would be significant in the world of social media journalism, and perhaps others can follow their lead.

The idea and the call is there. The decision on whether a public editor role should be created, however, is solely in Mark Zuckerberg’s court.

Your move, Facebook.

Editor’s note: This post was amended at 4:04pm CT on August 7 to add that The Guardian also has the post of a global readers editor.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing 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 unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

We Carry On: A Tribute to Alison and Adam

It was a disorienting Wednesday morning on Twitter.

My eyes and thumbs perused the normal banter of old high school friends, article links tossed out by the slew of environmental journalists I follow for Earth updates.

And then something stopped me momentarily in my scrolling.

I read that wrong, I assume.

But no.

I see the same headline a few tweets above.  Another shocking jolt.  Another gasp of disbelief.

Ex-Broadcaster Kills 2 on Air in Virginia Shooting” –– The New York Times confirms my doubts, my suspicions that what I read earlier was, in fact, true.

The next morning in one of my lectures, we do what every journalism program in the country should have done, and that is talk about the on-camera shooting of two Virginia journalists, practicing the very craft we are destined to replicate.

“Does this tragedy affect your desire to become journalists?” my professor asks us.  We’re all a little shell-shocked, to be sure –– but even more-so after viewing the contested Thursday morning front page of the New York Daily News.

I have to admit, as I sat there gaping at the horrific images splashed across the Daily News’ front page in tabloid-like fashion, I didn’t know what to think.  I knew becoming a journalist wasn’t exactly the relaxing desk-job bankers and secretaries enjoy.  

But I always assumed journalists got themselves in trouble by entering a war-torn area unadvised, or putting themselves in the midst of a dangerous mob.  What happens now, when there is absolutely no way to prepare for this outcome?  How do you ever rationalize this kind of situation until you’re okay to keep pressing on?  Are journalists ever truly safe from harm?

To tap into a philosophical vein: no, we as journalists, as fragile human beings, will never be okay.  We will never be able to assure our safety, even in our own hometowns.  There are accidents, there are wrong-places-at-wrong-times.  There are tragedies.

But we carry on.

We carry on for Alison Parker and Adam Ward, and for all of those who have lost their lives practicing their passion.

Because, ultimately, we journalists are serving the public –– and the public will never stop needing the assistance, the intelligence, and the know-how of journalists.  

There are days, like today, when it may seem impossible to continue feeding the beast that is our news-engaged society.  But there are days when the thrill of journalism will triumph over all other human suffering and strife.

Let us continue to keep fighting, to keep digging, to keep exploring the world, for Alison and Adam.  Let us remember those who have fallen, but let us also remember those who have finished admirable careers as the storytellers we one day hope to become.

Today, take a moment of silence for Alison and Adam, for the struggles our profession has faced and the struggles we will inevitably face in the future.

And then, with heavy hearts, let us carry on.

Bethany N. Bella is studying Journalism, Environmental Studies and Cultural Anthropology at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

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.

Stewart’s Journalism 101

Jon Stewart, who signs off tonight from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, influenced the modern media culture of America. (Photo: Martin Crook/Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart, who signs off tonight from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, influenced the modern media culture of America, and had lessons for those in the media industry. (Photo: Martin Crook/Comedy Central)

He sat at that desk, and told us of what happened in the world that day. Not only did he make us laugh, but for some of the population, he informed.

When 11:30 Eastern time struck, as most people turned off or switched to Letterman, Kimmel or Fallon, he had done more than just talk about the news of the day. He influenced and engaged with the modern political and media culture of the United States, and left an important lesson for those who cover the news.

He is Jon Stewart, and tonight he will sit at that desk at The Daily Show for the last time after 16 years. Since taking over from Craig Kilborn in 1999, Stewart added his own personal spin on the program, that as the digital and social media age evolved, took off, influencing 21st century journalism, and also showing where it can improve.

Data from the Pew Research Center showed that 12 percent of Americans got their news from The Daily Show, similar to that of USA Today and The Huffington Post. Many of them were young people. Yet, in a 2010 study from Pew, 10 percent of Americans turned to the Daily Show for headlines, compared to 24 percent for views and 43 percent for entertainment.

But what Stewart was able to do was more than entertainment – he was able to shape journalism and educate about its future, as the 24 hour news cycle evolved and adapted from cable news, to the web and social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. If the media was evolving, Jon Stewart would evolve with it.

The debate that Stewart contributed to focused on the standards to which reporting is conducted. As Thomas Kent, the standards editor at the Associated Press noted in an op-ed for The New York Times, that left many with questions.

“Mainstream American journalists have long valued keeping their own opinions out of their reporting, following the facts and letting them speak for themselves. Balance is valued, as is nuance,” Kent wrote. “But critics have called this school of impartial reporting outmoded. They believe journalists should declare their beliefs and then report the truth as they see it.”

Kent notes that while Stewart taught journalists how to appeal to new audiences, the principle of objectivity reigned.

“There is still enduring value to balanced, sober reporting of all sides of a story,” Kent said. “Mainstream journalism embraces a sense of professional humility; not everything has a simple, snappy answer. News commentary, especially acid commentary, is on the rise. It’s tough and straightforward and pulls important new audiences into public discussion. Jon Stewart was its master. But alongside commentary, citizens — and comedians — need the fundamentals: solid sources of fast, aggressive and balanced reporting.”

Jon Stewart allowed us to see ourselves as journalists in a different light, to remind us of what is important in journalism, and how to make subjects interesting to new audiences. The news cycle will continue to evolve as new technology develops, but the lesson that Stewart leaves is that people, especially young people, care about the news. They care about the truth. How it is delivered will change their engagement and attitude. As its said in the SPJ’s Ethics code, “seek truth and report it.”

While commentary aides discussion, reporting provides its roots, and only objective, impartial reporting can do that. Education is at the heart of all good journalism, and if Jon Stewart taught us anything, its that, and it is a principle we must abide by, not just for ourselves, but for our audience, no matter what platform we write or broadcast on.

We don’t enter this profession for the money. We enter this profession because we care about the people. We want to help them live better lives, and it all starts with education, something no one can place a price tag on.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life 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 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.

Data, Data Everywhere

My eyes and thumbs comb through medium after medium, prowling the Internet for the next sensational story, the latest updates from my friends, and the most cutting-edge scientific research.

TwitterTumblrFacebookPinterestInstagramSnapchatGoogle … Repeat.

It’s hard to imagine living in such an age where we don’t know about the forthcoming announcement of (yet another) Republican presidential nominee, or the release of Apple’s latest music makeover.  Even the things we don’t really want to know, we know –– just who was Hillary Clinton emailing during her Secretary of State term?  What Harry Potter house were all 486 of your friends on Facebook sorted into, according to BuzzFeed’s evaluation of your taste in Getty Images?

In an information age as overwhelming as our own, the amount of data at our fingertips can seem just as mind-numbing.  What do we do with all of this information, present-day journalists ask themselves?  How can we tell these stories, with so much info on, often, so little a scope?

‘Data journalism’ seems to be the term savvy storytellers are throwing around these days to combat our fear of information overload.  Their jobs are to mine the spreadsheets of the latest census in search of interesting data sets, or track down the frequency of drivers running a red light in Los Angeles, California –– and make it into something an audience wants to look at.

Digesting data, and how to showcase that data for consumers, is a booming business right now.  Even the New York Times published a letter on their Upshot blog this week, called “Death to ‘Data Journalism.’”

Why death to data journalism, you ask?

Because ‘data journalism’ is, really, a false reality.  A new-fangled term coined for another face of modern storytelling.

Just because journalists are administering newly compiled and accessible data to a public hungry for news doesn’t mean the objective changes.  The game is still the same: create engaging, intellectually stimulating content for readers and viewers everywhere.

The interviewees in this short video on data journalism have it right: data journalism will soon (and hopefully) become just plain, old journalism again, once readers have gotten accustomed to writers with this much access to information.

We will soon come to expect that our country’s journalists have the tenacity to sort through piles of records requests, along with getting that saucy quote from the mayor and the damning image of his ex-wife.  It’s all part of the package, and that makes the stakes that much higher.

It’s an exciting new age of journalism.  Higher expectations, but a higher reward from the public you serve.

So don’t be confused by terms like ‘data journalism,’ ‘print journalism,’ even ‘photojournalism.’  Because in the end, it’s all part of the story.

Bethany N. Bella is studying Journalism, Environmental Studies and Sustainability Policy at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

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.

Transparency for All

I wake up anxious every day, just to find out what Obama will be doing in the afternoon.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Perhaps my enthusiasm for The New York Times Now newsletter has got me a little carried away.

The era of digital journalism is upon us, where we consumers can uncover the president’s whereabouts, the history of Pac Man, and the leaked merger of two media companies before their employees even hear of the negotiations –– all at the tap of a screen and the stroke of a thumb.

It seems that everything is and can be known, while nothing is secret or sacred for long.  With trust comes a yearning for greater transparency, a transparency that was once denied by all.

We have yet to experience an age of fluid, free-for-all information in America as we encounter today.

Those inspirational posters in elementary schools across the country speak at least one truth: knowledge, I’ve come to learn, is power.  The masses are no longer deposited in darkness, shackled from the bitter underbelly of reality.  We can touch the truth, the stories from the “other side” –– if only we so choose.

I never appreciated how journalists have truly become the gatekeepers of society’s information until I thought about President Obama and his endless, ever-changing agenda.  If I didn’t have the thorough research, wit and intellect of journalists at the Times, I’d have absolutely no concept of the events occurring in Washington D.C., let alone with whom the president was having lunch.  I’d be clueless and unawares in my small hometown of Ohio (a state that nobody ever cares about until election season starts).

You see, I’d know the high school choir and band rosters for next school year, the best price for blueberries from the local groceries, that the house across the street is for sale.  But I wouldn’t have any concept of the tragedies in Nepal, have read BuzzFeed’s bulletproof resumé advice, or know that John Kerry broke his leg in Europe earlier this week.

I’d be left in blissful, mind-numbing ignorance, but I’d be none the wiser.

I read articles, I follow journalists because there is always something more for me to gain.  I marvel at how I will never, ever stop learning in this life, so long as I choose to keep exploring.

Journalists pave the path for discovery, for intrigue, for curiosity.  We are forever indebted to their services, their tireless effort to share with us, the audience, another glimpse of the world beyond our front door.

So next time you share a story with a friend –– a story that took place beyond your ivory tower town –– pause, and retweet a journalist.  You only know so much as your fellow human beings let you know, so support the journalists who tire away for your attention.  They’re doing this for you.

Bethany N. Bella is studying Journalism, Political Science and Environmental Studies at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com

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.

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.

For NBC, it’s more than just about Brian Williams

For NBC News, there is more to answer than the issue surrounding its star anchor, Brian Williams. (Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

For NBC News, there is more to answer than the issue surrounding its star anchor, Brian Williams.
(Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

Brian Williams has not had an easy year. The anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News was suspended without pay in February after concerns were raised about an account he gave of reporting during the Iraq War, saying a helicopter he had been in was shot down by rocket fire.

Since that occasion, investigations have been taking place within NBC about his reporting and the accounts he gave of other events, and it has emerged that 11 instances have occurred where Williams fabricated the accounts of covering certain events.

According to a report on the subject in the Washington Post, these instances include not just the situation in Iraq, but also the coverage of Israeli military action against the group Hezbollah in 2006, and the reporting of events at Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring political movement in 2011.

The report, the New York Times adds, is not due to make the conclusions on whether Williams will return from his suspension in August.

As this investigation, and indeed the debate continues on whether Williams will return to the network, there are wider questions to be answered regarding NBC’s own journalism ethics, and in an age where information and news can be accessed beyond the network’s flagship broadcasts, whether it can still remain a source people can confide in for information about the important events of the day.

In the mid-20th century, Americans relied on radio, newspapers, and the early days of television to be informed about the events. Personalities like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and later Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer became household names, with viewers placing their trust with them and their respective programs to give an honest, forthright account of events, whether they were big or small, or whether they took place in your own backyard or half a world away.

NBC executives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York hope audiences can continue to trust them for news. (Photo: djdave217/Flickr under CC)

NBC executives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York hope audiences can continue to trust them for news and information. (Photo: djdave217/Flickr under CC)

The question of trust in journalism has changed since then to include the internet and the multitudes of social media platforms, notably Facebook and Twitter, and as these mediums evolve, so too has the journalism. News organizations recognize the value the internet has in getting the message out there to millions of users. For the vast majority of Americans, no longer does the half hour evening news program become the big news attraction—it becomes, for the broadcast networks, merely an extension of a multi-platform 24 hour journalistic operation.

It is this idea that raises the million dollar question, for the actions taken by NBC are not just about whether Brian Williams retains his job and office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York come August, but whether consumers can come back to the offerings full circle—broadcast, web and social, after the fact.

That is a question that cannot be solved by a managerial shakeup, an internal inquiry, nor a change in person presenting the program, but rather the consumers themselves, and whether they will vote with their remotes or their computers or mobile devices in favor or against a network trying to ensure its feet touch the ground.

Therefore, for NBC, there is more at stake than just what to do with Brian Williams. It is whether it can still maintain its relationship with its audience, and keep doing what they were supposed to be doing in the first place, doing honest, forthright journalism, for the many, and not the few, no matter the platform.

Stay tuned for the answer.

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 on social media and digital culture 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.

Tablet or Traditional? News Consumption

One afternoon in my second semester at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, I grabbed a copy of the morning’s The New York Times, more on an impulse than as a conscious, consumer choice.

When you attend one of the top-ranked journalism schools in the country, reading and consuming news in the traditional sense (think thick, inky newspapers and ever-present CNN coverage) is standard – and addicting.

I was never a read-the-newspaper-every-day kind of person until I started rubbing elbows with other collegiate academics, most of whom keep a copy of the Times under their suit jackets, like an essential accessory.

Resorting to a classic case of peer pressure, I soon began plucking a Times from the shelf every day, skimming the headlines over morning coffee – you know, what ‘smart, news-engaged people’ do.

But then one morning, after having watched the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011) in my journalism class, I stared incredulously at my Times and thought, “Who have I become? A digital-age person caught in the mentality of a traditional news junkie, living in the past?”

It’s no secret: Print journalism is undergoing a massive revolution.

Some critics claim it’s dying. Either way, print journalism has suffered incredible losses in the past five years alone, thanks to a surge in online news consumption and mobile compatible content.

Page One took The New York Times as a case study in this traditional journalism dilemma – one of those elite print models that’s grappled with financial hardship and a rapidly evolving audience, all while the American technological age keeps plowing ahead.

I’ve been conditioned to think that a newspaper – real, heavy, ink-blotted paper – is the only respected or sophisticated method to consume daily news.

And yet, what was I getting out of this old model that my digital subscription to the Times couldn’t have provided as easily, or more conveniently?  Perceived intelligence or blind optimism?

I thought, if I only consume news through traditional mediums, and ignore digital media, I’m championing a sputtering art form.  Like supporting the Cleveland Browns, instead of finding another, more promising team to root for (my dad’s an ever-hopeful Browns fan, but I gave up on them years ago).

It’s time to face the facts: Newspapers aren’t the sole providers of news, anymore.

And I’m choosing to live in the future, and support the next wave of journalism distribution, with my smartphone, my laptop, and my thumbs.

For those who think (or desperately choose to believe) that the printed newspaper will ever dominate as the primary method of news consumption in the future? Join the digital wave, while you still can.

Bethany N. Bella is studying at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

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.

A few words on David Carr

The journalism industry is going through a state of flux. As it goes through its state of flux, one man came forward with sharp insight and analysis that made the industry stop, listen, and take notice, whether you are beginning to enter the industry (like I am) or you are a veteran of the industry.

That man was the New York Times media columnist David Carr. Carr died Thursday at Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

I never met Carr in person, but I was an avid reader of Carr’s content, from my days as a student in university to even now. Carr’s writing was insightful, his knowledge of the industry was vast. Through his columns and pieces, and indeed his talks and lectures, he educated readers, scholars, students, executives and others about the industry and where it was going. I was always fascinated reading Carr’s content and knowing what he thought, from social media’s intersection in journalism to the traditional issues that face media outlets, from the decline in advertising to the issues of this week with NBC News anchor Brian Williams.

Carr was not just a writer. He was an educator, a one of a kind person in this industry, whose thoughts on the evolution of media are part of his legacy. Though he is no longer here, and there won’t be anyone like him again, his educational wit and insight on this industry will remain, something important for all people who love and respect journalism. Education from him can help this industry move forward.

My thoughts are with his family, friends and his colleagues at the Times.

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.

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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