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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