Paid for content-will it work?

November 30, 2009 at 2:17 pm (new age journalism) (, , , , , )

The latest challenge (albeit not a totally new one) that now faces journalism and its role in the digital age is whether to charge readers for online content. For the past few years, both regional and national newspapers have let their content be accessed for free for anyone across the globe to read and comment on.

But this was while the printing side of newspapers was fairly safe. Now they are playing a different game. Sales are down, and continuing to fall in most areas, advertising has taken a hit with the recession and some newspapers have crumpled entirely. So now Johnston Press have gone out on a limb and decided to start charging for their online content. This is not a new idea, it’s one that has been hit around the proverbial journalism tennis court for a while now, with Rupert Murdoch playing team captain.

I can understand the logic, people are increasingly turning to websites to get their news fix, as it’s instantly accessible, updated frequently so the news is breaking and is easier to access (you don’t have to leave your house to pop down the local shop to get your news anymore). And what else? Oh yes, it’s free! And that is one of the key issues that Mr Murdoch and Johnston seem to either be forgetting, neglecting or just undermining. One of the key aspects of being able to consume news via the World Wide Web is that you don’t have to pay a penny for it.

So will it work? It depends on a lot of factors. They have to have a loyal audience. If the titles have a readership who follows them avidly, then they might be willing to pay for their news. The price is also a huge issue. A couple of pence a story might be fine, or perhaps a few pounds a month in a subscription would be passable, but people aren’t likely to fork out much more for it, especially during a recession. And it’s not exactly the high-flying figures that newspapers need if they are going to struggle through these tough times.

But what is probably the most important point is that they need to have a monopoly on their local area and the news they cover. And not many titles do. Which is where the problem comes in. Readers are not going to pay for something they can find elsewhere. The BBC local websites will always be a massive competitor, and they are not likely to start charging. There are also hundreds of other sites who will cover regional and national news for free. I heard from a previous tutor that the Guardian have put a beat blogger into Cardiff, so even national newspapers are starting to push their way into the hyper local scene, which again means another rival for regional newspapers.

It’s not that I don’t want it to work, but I think other ideas are needed. As someone who is a champion for printed news and trained in newspaper journalism, I can’t imagine a world without hard copies of newspapers, but online developments can’t be ignored, and if anything they could be the saviour for newspaper titles. But charging for content is a risk strategy that I’m not sure will pay off in the end.

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Social Media Squabbles

April 15, 2009 at 9:55 pm (Cardiff news, new age journalism, Web 2.0) (, , )


There is no denying that social media has been pretty useful for us, not just in terms of keeping in contact with friends and family, and also fulfilling our needs to find out what is going on and what people are doing, but it can also help with useful contacts. Twitter is the latest one that seems to have suddenly risen up from the depths of the unknown into every bit of conversation I hear at the moment, whether it is on the news, radio, TV or even in everyday conversations with friends, they are all talking about “twittering”.It is a good way of tracking people in your chosen profession, especially for journalism, as many high profile journalists are on the networking site.  Unlike facebook, Twitter means you can follow anyone you like and are able to message them without worrying about privacy settings or having to add people as friends.

This has it’s pro’s and con’s. Like I said it has great communication benefits, but it can also lead to stalkerish tendencies. Some may be harmless, but when people start stalking their ex’s and love interest, it is only going to lead to disaster and heartbreak. There have been a couple of cases now where ex partners have assaulted or even killed their partners because of facebook messages or changes in their relationship status. A case a few months ago showed a man whose ex changed her relationship status to single killed her in a jealous rage.

Another concerning part of social networking that may cause problems is for high profile people. They will have to be careful of what they put out on their profiles, and what they say that represents their feelings or opinions as it suddenly gives a large part of the public and insight into their lives and personalities. This is always going to be like walking on broken glass.

Figures in the community also need to take care. The latest case emerged today, where a Cardiff Assembly Member, Jonathon Morgan linked his Twitter post to a website which featured negative images of Cardiff on a weekend night. I don’t think the picture would come as much of a shock to anyone who has been out in Cardiff on a Saturday night, or even on a match day, when it is obvious most of the photos were taken. It is messy to say the least. But instead of being concerned about what to do to tackle the problem, other Assembly Member’s have attacked Mr Morgan, saying he is promoting offensive pictures.

Perhaps they should be considering ways to help clean up Cardiff and deal with the problems rather than vindicating someone who exposes it. Instead of squabbling between each other, perhaps they should consider the problems that Cardiff suffers from on nights such as these and concentrate on cleaning up the city rather than worrying about protecting the city’s image.

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I’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80’s…

December 10, 2008 at 6:32 pm (new age journalism, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

//montaraventures.com/pix/rubikcube.jpg

Source-http://montaraventures.com/pix/rubikcube.jpg

I think it is fairly evident for all to see that a lot has changed since the 1980’s. I imagine this is something that most of us are pretty grateful for, especially when thinking about the bad clothing and the hairstyles! Even though I only got to enjoy four years of this glorious decade, I do know it was pretty fun, but I think most of it should be left in  the 1980’s, especially luminous clothing and make-up. Some of the music was great-David Bowie, Blondie just to name a few. Other things were not so great-including the journalism.

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC Technology Correspondant spoke to us about how journalism has changed since the 1980’s and I think it’s fair to say it has come a long long way. Looking at clips of news from the 1980’s was not only slightly embarassing to watch, but many of us laughed. It seemed ridiculous to us that people would actually wear glasses that took up two thirds of their face, or that journalism was done using cartoons, badly shot footage and hardly any graphics. If graphics were used they were of the most basic kind and did not tell you much about the story itself.

Back in the 1980’s broadcast journalism was basic. But the audience was huge, as the choice was fairly limited. There was no 24 hours which seems strange as it is so infiltrated in our news consumption now.

There was also limited interactivty- callers were treated as mad or strange individuals and of course there was not email or text, unlike today where all we see is user generated content filtered into all aspects of news programming.

In some ways it is easy to think that being a journalist in the 1980’s was harder then than it is now, as we have a lot more tools to do things for us. I personally think it has actually become a harder profession with the proliferation of technology into the industry. Journalists now have to be multi-skilled and be able to use all aspects of the technology, from writing to filming. You can no longer be amazing at just one aspect of the trade.

We also now have to learn to be interactive and deal with the pressure from user generated content. I always think that high quality journalism will triumph in the end, but we are now under more pressure to make sure our work is of a high quality.

The 1980’s may have been a period that people look back on wistfully, thinking about their school discos or trying to hide their shame and embarassment. It is no different for journalism and I’m sure in another 20 years or so we will feel the same about this period. At the moment we just need to keep moving with the times and rise to the challenge that the techonological innovation has brought us.

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Breaking the boundaries and breaking the law

November 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm (new age journalism) ()

www.itsaboutjustice.com

Source:www.itsaboutjustice.com

The world of journalism is a more open one; it is one that has become more accessible to everyone who has access to the internet.

Blogging has really thrown journalism into a spin. It has made traditional journalists panic that their trade is at stake and put them into a state of fear if they feel they cannot keep up with the changing pace in technology. The Bivings Report highlighted these fears in its article on newspaper and provided suggestions for what newspapers need to be doing to keep up with the pace of the internet.

However, the problem with the proliferation of blogging among member of the public is that it is a risky business. Shane Richmond says that the key to successful blogging is to find a niche and make you blog different in some shape or form. But what if this niche is a dangerous one, where people end up putting false information out there, or break the law through libel? Or even, in the extremist level, they are aggressive and make threats that are deemed to be dangerous.

Most members of the public are not aware of media law and do not know what can be defined as libel or slander. This makes it easy to create content that breaks these laws, and affect people’s reputations. In some cases, this content is more dangerous than what is published in a newspaper, as the internet it quicker, available to be seen by more people and can be seen by users all over the world.

And media laws are not the only laws that can be broken through the increasing use of publication by the public on the internet. Laws regarding threatening behaviour can be broken so easily, whether it is plausible that it could be carried out in real life or not.

Over the past couple of months, there have been two cases which have caught my eye, that show the dangers of the internet, one related to blogging, and one related to social networking.

The first case is the case of Darryn Walker, who threatened to rape and murder Girls Aloud. Some may put it down to harmless comment on the internet, but looking at the content, it does not appear that harmless. The man who wrote it may not have wanted to actually carry out the acts he described, but that does not make it any less threatening. He also seemed to have misplaced the power of the internet; how many people it could reach and how seriously some of the readers would take it.

The second one is more sinister. This case involves a mother, whose daughter had fallen out with her friend, 13 year old Megan Meier. She signed onto msn, pretending to be a young boy and made a relationship with the girl, and then started to send her abusive messages. Megan then committed suicide after her online relationship ended.

I’m not saying that the increase in social networking and blogging is a bad thing. Generally, I am in favour of it. It provides people with a voice and allows us to get a different perspective of things. But I think we need to keep in mind that, as with most things, it is open to abuse. It can be very dangerous and we need to be wary of the content that is given to us

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Campaign for change…by politicising the internet

November 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm (new age journalism) (, )

Source Flickr user Mykl Roventine

While doing my best to try to stay awake past the 2am spot to watch the US election, I realised how far the world of blogging had come. No, I didn’t have some kind of vision that showed me the power of the internet but it was a comment from one of the presenters that started the wheels turning. They mentioned that not only had it been the most expensive and long-drawn election, but that it had been the biggest internet based election, with blogs, twittering and all sorts of other vast internet tools that are beyond my knowledge having been used in the campaigns and media reports.

Blogs were used all over the world, by both the media and the public, and played a massive role in shaping the direction of the election. Just a few examples were the Spectator, the Guardian and the BBC. You only have to log into word press to see that the hot topic in the latest blogs, including this one (ironic I know) are about the election.

One of the main things about this hub of internet political participation is that it is probably not the first, and it will definitely not be the last time that this will happen. It just so happens that because the election was such a huge event all over the world that people really stood up and took notice of how much blogging was really going on. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised either, I hadn’t really considered how many people out there were blogging and using it, not only to push their own stories about their lives or their interests but to push political voting and campaigning. If you type ‘US election blogs’ into google you get 37,900,000 results. Obviously some may not be as relevant as others, but it is an indication in itself of how much activity is out there.

As for twitter, that was being used as a kind of mini blog with constant streaming and updating. The BBC used twitter to keep everyone up to date and other websites such as the Guardian used it to made people aware of new blogs on the election. And it was not just used for the results. Barack Obama was praised for his campaign team’s use of the internet to connect with voters that otherwise he would be unable to, as seen in the video below.


The only problem is that I was told this week that blogs needed to be interesting. I wasn’t sure what to make of this remark. Obviously, your blog has to interest someone, or it is never going to be read, and an entirely self indulgent blog is not particularly pleasant to read either. But surely what makes a blog interesting is completely subjective? If I take the example of pig farming, something I’m not particularly interested in myself, but something like this blog (about farming), I’m sure other pig farmers would find interesting.It’s difficult for decide what makes a good blog, and both the writer and the reader are being entirely subjective. However, as long as there is a variety of opinions and topics out there, and I can only see it growing, then there is going to be something to interest everyone.

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Power to the people

November 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm (new age journalism) ()

Journalism and the way that we may have envisaged the profession in the past no longer exists. Power has now reached the public in ways that has not been seen before and a new age of influence has arisen.

This debate between Jimmy Wales and Andrew Keen make some of the major an very interesting points on the developments of new technology and the effect on modern journalism.


They highlight the issue of the effect of advertising of newspapers, which is leading to the decline as well as the impact on user generated content. Journalists are worried, and perhaps they should be, as newspapers are going into decline, a frightening prospect if they are not willing to adapt and change with progressive techonology.

It may seem like the journalists are no longer in control, the blanace of power has shifted and those that once may have been ignored are not sitting in the contol seat. I would agree that there has been a shift in power, but I think there is still a difference in the quality of output between citizens and the public and journalists are still needed. As they say in this debate “it is in our hands.”

The perception of a loss of control and the rise in the use of the internet by consumers is risky for both journalism and companies. Journalists now feel the pressure to make their work better, which is not a bad thing, competition can be an advantage. Companies now have to make sure their projects are better quality as one review on the internet can have so much power and influence that their whole reputations could be at stake. Dell computer company was a victim of this when news of their exploding batteries was spread around the internet so quickly that their reputation was damaged within days.

Now that 60% of people who have the internet are using social networking sites, so their words and opinions can stretch further than before to far more people. Myspace has more than 100 million users monthly around the world, and Facebook has 60 million with a 3% increase every week.

Tom Schmidt argues that the internet is nothing unless used creatively by both the public and by corporations and the media to keep their integrity.  He says disruptive technology creates new opportunities despite threatening the status quo. This is true, and proves the point that the organisations that will survive are the ones who use the internet to their advantage.

Activists are a particular example of those who have benefited from these developments. Organisations such as Greenpeace have used it to their advantage. Through internet communication Greenpeace have become a major publisher and their influence is bigger than it could have been through traditional campaigning.

The faster technology has become, the faster news has also become. We no longer have to wait for the news or tomorrow’s newspapers to find out about an event, stories can be broken on the internet where the public have instant access and can also participate in it. Robert Preston’s blog is a great example of this, as he uses his blog to break news stories which then allows him to dictate the news agenda for the rest of the day, showing how powerful a blog can be.

However there are always drawbacks. Blogs are not regulated and do not have editors amending them before they are published. This can lead to misinformation and therefore can be a dangerous medium.

As with all developments, the internet has its pro’s and con’s. The future of what it can do for the media is yet to be seen, however, if the pro’s outweigh the con’s it would be hard to argue that it is a bad thing.

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Movies, memories and magic making

October 26, 2008 at 2:05 pm (new age journalism) ()

Human beings naturally have stories to tell and that is what makes news so interesting.  There is a two-way system to this; people who have a story to tell and the people who want to tell it. This is how traditional journalism has always worked. But now journalism is not such an exclusive field and people can tell their own stories. The kind of technology that can be used allows a person’s story to be heard, not just by those who are present by anyone who has access to the internet.

 

People can now make their own media and are actively being encouraged to do this. A good idea? Well, I suppose that depends on the subject. It has to be subject that they have at least some knowledge about, or else the content could be dangerous and misleading to anyone who reads it.

 

Obviously everyone is entitled to tell their stories. And personal stories are always a safe bet. The technology that allows people to take old photos and clippings and use them to create a media story is a modern way to put together a collection of memories in one place and give the story teller a voice. As far as I’m concerned, this is harmless and can be an interesting insight into people’s lives from all across the world.

 

I don’t think that this is a pointless exercise, but the problem is that a lot of it is limited in its interest to other people. But to be interested in someone’s personal story depends a lot on the story, the individual and whether you have some kind of connection to it. It may give someone a voice but is anyone listening? To me, it does not seem like much more than people making home movies with their old photos, which may interest others more than myself.

 

In the case of multimedia story telling I suppose you could argue that it doesn’t matter, it’s more for the people who are producing it to be given the chance to create something that they are proud of and just to have the opportunity to put it out there for people to see if they wish, whether they do so or not. If it gives someone satisfaction and pride in their work then who am I to criticise?

 

If we apply the concept to the media as a whole however, I can see how it comes into more use for wider application. To gather old photos and clipping from an event that has spanned over many years, it can be a very useful tool. It gives newsrooms the chance to play with pieces of history and put them together in ways that fit in with the modern world. Take for example photos from the two World Wars or old elections where the photograph and basic film were the only mediums available. The news rooms can now take these and create them into a modern film to explain how and why things happened and to relate them to contemporary events that may have relevance.

 

The tools can bring the history to life, and if you choose the right subject it can be both a valuable learning and very enjoyable tool to use.

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Something old,something new, something borrowed…

October 21, 2008 at 7:50 pm (new age journalism) ()

There is no doubt that technology has changed the world and is still doing so at an increasing rate. No profession has managed to escape it, least of all journalism. The way that journalism was done decades ago involved typewriters, all contact was done face to face, and although, for the time, the news was printed as quickly as possible it was beyond slow by today’s standards. Even just 15 years ago using Web 1.0 things seem so much slower despite being a giant leap from what it was. Technology helps the profession in many other ways than it does for other trades. One thing that it has in common for all professions is that it makes things quicker. And seeing that speed is a key element of news journalism the introduction of technology has aided us in so many ways it almost seems like a dream to think that we could not communicate with people without having to see them face to face. Talk about hard work. That is by no means to say journalism has become lazy. The work still has to be put in, just in through other methods.

 

The increasing use of technology hasn’t meant we have left the traditional practices of journalism behind. It merely makes these practices more efficient. For example, good journalism has always been about networking. Charlie Becket describes it as a means where we can connect with people outside of the newsroom for stories, opinions, photos and any other contributions to the news that we may need. Becket says networked journalism gives people a voice in the media.

 

Jeff Jarvis similarly suggests that networked journalism can now be more collaborative with both amateurs and professionals working together.

 

This has always been the case-the public have always been part of the news, seeing as the news is about people. Now they have more access and a voice that they can give as and when they feel like it rather than waiting to be asked.

 

Under Web 1.0 networking had developed but was still limited. A journalist could source a story a contact by telephone calls or meetings, a letter to the editorial or someone asking to speak to a reporter. There was the possibility of forums but they were still developing and were very restrictive.

 

Then came Web 2.0. where a journalist could source a story through social networking such as Twitter or Facebook, podcasts online searches, threaded video debate and from incidents that may be live streamed on the internet. These are all used in collaboration wit the tools that were used under Web 1.0.

 

 

I’m sure the idea of more access for the public to journalism scared a lot of traditionalist and there are critics who suggest that citizen journalism is threatening traditional journalism. I disagree. I think news can only be improved by the collaboration between the public and journalists. Of course, I agree that there should be a line; after all I don’t think that the profession should be totally undermined and I don’t think that anyone can just put something on the internet and be classed as a journalist. But I think that combining the skills of both can only make improvements for the audience.

 

 As Richard Sambrook stated; whatever the subject that we choose to report, “someone, somewhere will know more about it than we journalists do”. It takes a skilled journalist to find this knowledge and know how to use it to improve their story. Journalism is not dead by any means; it is merely being enhanced by these tools and perhaps we should embrace them rather than see them as the enemy.

 

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Citizen journalism…a favour or fraud?

October 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm (new age journalism) ()

I’d never really given citizen journalism much thought before. I think I had always put it down to something that ‘other people’ bothered with, and I had always wanted to be a ‘real’ journalist. But looking at the increasing trend and importance of members of the public in both the reporting of news and providing analysis and opinions on ranging issues, I realised that people who take part just want to the chance to share their thoughts, images and anything else with other people. And why shouldn’t they? In a society with free speech they have every right to do this. Also, who am I have such snobbery? I realised that journalists and citizen journalists have the same goal; they want to tell people what’s going on and reach out to as many people as possible with their information.

 

 By getting people to send in photos of events as it’s happening, the news gets to the public quicker than any reporter who would have to leave the news desk and travel to the scene. The use of people’s comments and their versions of events from the scene not only grants stories a personal angle but gives the public a different account of the event; a description of the hard-hitting reality of being there while it was going on, and a sense of proximity. A reporter could not do this from a news desk or by turning up after the incident had happened. All they could give their viewers/readers is an account of what happened afterwards, and perhaps a quote from somebody that they had managed to grab passing by. By using real accounts of someone’s experience more depth and reality can be given.

 

Does this make journalists lazy? The fact that they can sit at their desks and use someone else’s photos, someone else’s account of an event and someone else’s opinions? In some cases, perhaps. However, I know that after years of hard work, I don’t want to be someone who merely sits at a desk all day ripping off someone else’s work. That’s not what good journalism is about.

 

Good journalism is about using tools that are within reach, but using them to add to your own work, to make it better, to give it a sense of real life. You want the account of Joe Bloggs if it makes your story personal, but he has to be referenced and it has to be done fairly. It is far too easy to be patronising to citizen journalists because they don’t sit in a newsroom with journalistic training.

 

Of course there are drawbacks that need to be considered. People could be out to hoax, such as the picture of the deer in the woods (http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_montana_fire.htm). But that just means checks need to be made.  The use of citizen journalism should not be curbed because there are risks involved. The risks just need to be safeguarded.

 

If we take the example of 7/7, citizen journalism played a massive role in the reporting of the event. Pictures from inside the trains were being sent to the media within minutes of the terrorists striking. Photographs, which no journalist would have been able to get, were being put out on national news straight away. As soon as anyone made it out of the stations, they were asked to give a blow-by-blow account of what had happened, what they heard, saw and how they were feeling. In situations such as these, where no one knows what has happening and everything is in a state of confusion the main source of news is those who were there and were involved.  Examples of all these can be seen on the BBC news website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2005/london_explosions/default.stm.

 

The media can’t have their cake and eat it. If they are going to use citizens for stories such as these, they need to let them have a platform for all events. Yes, we need to be wary, but in the long run, it looks to be the way forward for valuable and informative journalism.

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Social networking…making friends and beyond

October 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm (new age journalism) ()

It seemed incredibly daunting when it was first put to me that if I was to enter journalism in this modern world, I would need to have skills that included using social networking sites, social bookmaking and to create a blog. In fact, being the technophobe that I am, it was terrifying.

 

However, once I began to look around the internet at existing blogs and started to explore tools such as Twitter, I realised I had been blind to this part of the industry. I now have a sense of the power that some of these tools could have for journalists.

 Twitter has really enforced this point. At first, I, like some others, struggled to see the difference between the site and Facebook status updates. However, as we pressed further and looked at how Twitter could be used as more than just a status update, its uses became more apparent.  It seems so overwhelming to me the amount of power that the internet can have, especially when we heard about the story of the journalist who was arrested in Egypt. It was almost beyond comprehension that a text to an internet site could lead to a global petition and put pressure on governments.

 I feel as if I have been completely oblivious to a whole part of the internet that I was unaware of and have so blatantly missed. After setting up RSS feeds, I now notice that most websites that I previously logged onto have an RSS icon at the bottom. This is also the case with Twitter, as so many websites that I went on before suddenly mention or use it for opinion polls and connecting to their audience. It’s almost as if I have been walking around with my head in a technology-free cloud, and it can only be a good thing that these sites have been exposed to me.

 One of the main themes in social networking is how sites such as Twitter and practices such as blogging provide a two way system in the media where the audience can now be part of the process and have a space to voice their opinions. As we are meant to be living in a democracy the idea of free speech is key to this system and these tools help this process. It gives some sort of power to the consumer. It also provides a better service to readers as they have different points of access to journalism, interactivity and can reach the news immediately. It is a means of getting information and news out there as quickly as possible and in a world where technology is omnipresent, it manages to meet demands. See this webpage for more explanation on this point-http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7287536.stm

 

 

 Bill Thompson makes a point about social networking and the changes that I feel sums up the current technological climate: “The scale of the changes in the practice of journalism and the economic models of the companies that support and sustain journalism is starting to become apparent”.

 Social networking that has stemmed from Web 2.0 has been seized upon by both audiences and those who want to reach them. It is a two way system that both the powerful and the masses can use to their advantage. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/5391258.stm)

 

 On one hand, it can help to evolve citizen journalism and people can focus on their interests and passions and put forward their ideas and opinions to global communities at a click of a button.

 On the other hand, it is a way for the powerful in our society to help their audience follow their actions, their views and let them reach out in a more direct way. Looking through some of the people that have got Twitter, these practices are obvious. Both Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton used Twitter in their campaigns for the democratic election alongside other major politicians in the United States. (http://twitter.com/BarackObama)

  Obviously they will have campaign team helping them do this, but to their followers it is a more personal way of getting to know the people they will vote for. The US election has a whole has a page on Twitter with constant flowing updates from those involved in the election and members of the public. This example shows how sites such as these allow interaction and information to be direct and makes politics more accessible. (http://election.twitter.com/)

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/socialnetworking is a useful webpage that discusses all these issues of social networking mentioned above.

 Networks and communities are and will become increasingly vital if journalists wish to add depth to their story, engage with their readers and access information from different sources all around the world both easily and efficiently. It is by no means developed yet, but it can only grow and grow and increasing access to sources, information and different perspectives for journalists and consumers can only be a good thing.

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