Week 10: Social media

What makes ‘social’ media?

Web 1.0/Web2.0

One way communication

  • Websites
  • Some news outlets still run with this mentality

Two way communication

  • Email access

Multi-directional communication

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Comment sections

Production and Distribution:

How does this change the way news is made?

  • New sources of information
  • New means of communication

How does it change the way news is accessed?

  • Curating your own editorial experience
  • Socially mediated editing
  • Ambient news
  • More information about how news is consumed

Rise of the ‘Prosumer’

A producer and consumer of content

  • Democratic or at least egalitarian
  • Co-creation of news
  • Role of journalist as gatekeeper

User generated content

  • Validation and verification
  • Wider, speedier coverage
  • Self curation of news

‘Fat Democracy’

Aeron Davis (2009) ‘New media and ‘fat’ democracy

Two conflicting processes

  • Increase in the size and plurality of the elite
  • Increase in the division between the elite and the citizenry

Greater access and more information links between journalist and politicians

Increase in disconnection and disenfranchisement

Possibly changing with recent increase in labour party membership.

New news old news makers?

‘Organic’ and ‘forced’ growth on social media platforms.

Everyone is equal on Facebook but some are more equal than others, especially when we all know already who they are.

Popularity of traditional news media

Professional journalists as ‘independent’ bloggers

Citizen journalism

Breaking news and breaking taboos:

Twitter especially useful for breaking news

Advantage for traditional media and people on the ground.

Trade off between speed and accuracy

No filters on Facebook what is ok to show?

  • Boobes and bodies
  • A push medium without a trigger warning?
  • Mediation of online discussion

Social grieving and ‘tragedy hipster’

Local history of online multi directional communication as a forum for public grief

  • Death of Princess Diana
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Haitian earthquake
  • Paris attacks

Solidarity and sympathy


Tragedy hipsters and the policing of grief

Trust and verification:

Seymour Hersh the ‘glut of information’

Credibility as currency in social media dominated landscape

  • Popularity of Legacy Media
  • Potential space for citizen journalist filling gaps in Legacy media real or perceived.

Verification at times complex and not very cost effective

  • Can be outsourced to online specialists
  • Rise of sites such as snopes.com for debunking popular myths and memes.

Memes of Journalism:

Huge potential for innovative use of data journalism

  • Sourced infographics linking to research

Possible infotainment quality could be seen as lowbrow, soft news.

Effective means to popularise non-mainstream content and outlets.

  • Polemical opinion not seen in the mainstream

Exploitation by extremist forces

  • Memes as deceptive propaganda


Social media involves two-way or multi-way communication

It is the fundamental defining feature of web 2.0

For journalists and consumers it has an impact on both the production of and access to news

Speed and pluralism have to contend with in accuracy and possible extremism

Pluralism may be restricted to a broadening but increasing elusive elite.


Week 9: Data Journalism

News sources:

“It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you’ll do it that way sometimes.

But now it’s also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping out people by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country.”

Tim Berners-Lee, November 2010

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/data-analysis-tim-berners-lee

Detroit Riots:

By 1967 early morning police raid of a unlicensed bar in Detroit sets off looting, fires and shooting.

By the time it ends six days later:

  • 43 people were dead
  • hundreds were injured
  • more than 7,000 people had been arrested
  • entire city blocks destroyed by fire

Enter Philip Meyer:

Afterwards people wanted to know why and there were two theories:

Those who looted and burned buildings were on the bottom rung of society- no money and no education.


Rioters were recent arrivals from the South who had failed to assimilate and were venting their frustrations on the city.

Reading the riots:

Among the findings:

  • There was no correlation between economic status and participation in the distance
  • College-educated residents were as likely as high school dropouts to have taken part.
  •  Recent immigrants from the the South had not played a major role; in fact, Northerners were three times as likely to have rioted.

Grievances: police brutality; overcrowded living conditions; poor housing and lack of jobs.

Everything is numbers:

“Any event can be described by fundamental data; latitude, longitude, date and time, and importance. If every piece of content had at least those four pieces of meta information, we could offer consumers a tailored package of news that happened near them in the time since their last connection, for instance.

“Nevertheless, the ‘importance’ filter mentioned above highlights that the whole process demands human subjectivity and cannot be left to computers alone.”

Voices: News organisations must become hubs for trusted data in a market seeking (and valuing) trust.

By Mirko Lorenz, Nicolas Kayser-Bril, and Geoff McGhee

The Inverted Pyramid of Data Journalism:







Interrogating- where’s the story?

Who, What, Why, When, Where, How

  • What is the average?
  • Who is top? Bottom?
  • Time: what has happened since last year? 10 years ago?
  • Space: trends in fields/regions?
  • What is the context

Above all: use your news sense

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La Nacion:

“I believe quality and “gourmet” journalism, empowered by data, is not only the watchdog needed to keep our leaders accountable. It is also the hope for the development of new and successful business models for journalism.”

The future according to Tow:

1.) Data will become even more of a strategic resource for media.

2.) Better tools will emerge that democratize data skills.

3.) News apps will explode as a primary way for people to consume data journalism.

4.) Being digital first means being data-centric and mobile friendly.

5.) Expect more robo-journalism, but know that human relationships and storytelling still matter.

6.) Data journalism will be held to a higher standards of accuracy and corrections.

7.) Competency in security and data protection will become more important.

8.) Audiences will demands more transparency on reader data collection and use.

9.) Conflicts will emerge over public records, data scraping, and ethics.

10.) Collaboration will arise with libraries and universities as archives, hosts, and educators.

11.) Expect data-driven personalization and predictive news in wearable interfaces.

12.) More diverse newsrooms will produce better data journalism

Howard, A (2014) The Science and Art of Data-Driven Journalism, Tow Centre for Digital Journalism.


Week 8: Genre Journalism

  • Genre vs ‘Hard’ news:

Topic- A focus on a specific subject, location or profession

Style- The way in which journalism is presented

Sports Journalism:

Tends to be a money spinner for traditional news organisations

  • people still willing to pay for sports coverage

Has not protected specialist sports journalist from newsrooms cuts especially ‘backroom’ experts

  • Possible loss of quality
  • Reduction in investigative reporting
  • Chasing quotes, popular sports and ‘celebrity sports people’

Sports Journalists in the mainstream press keen to emphasise their journalist credentials

Distance between players/managers and journalist

  • Wealth and celebrity culture, scandal/ gotcha journalism and ‘agents’

Independent sports journalism?

Technology as a useful and practical tool in sports reporting

  • Reporting on the move
  • Live updates and ease of communication

Growth in the use of freelance reporters

  • Good for business bad for journalist (especially if you want financial stability)

Independent online reporting

  • A microphone and an intelligent, funny and/or original analysis may be all you need
  • Reliant on information from Twitter and traditional press
  • A cheeky source for traditional reporters

Celebrity/Lifestyle Journalism:

‘Soft’ journalism as a counterpoint to ‘hard’ journalism

  • Is celebrity journalism easy?

Another money spinner

A good and a bad way to do celebrity news

  • Hacking scandal
  • Puff pieces
  • Harmless entertainment
  • A causal forum for serious issues

Celebrity/lifestyle Online:


  • The Mail Online
  • Advertising

Buzzfeed and the rise of the ‘listicle’

  • Changing the format of news in other genres


  • Specific celebrities/shows
  • No new information?
  • Circumnavigation of Journalists

Music Journalism:

“People who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.” – Frank Zappa

Metamusic, rhetoric and championing bias.

Niche area which inspired great fan loyalty.

  • ‘Golden age’ – NME, Vox, Melody Maker
  • NME brand diversified into film/TV

Never made much money- especially for journalist

Pressure towards celebrity and a reduction in ‘theory’ journalism

  • Is this really the Internet’s fault?

Music Journalism Online:

Multi-media platform a useful when compared to the limitations of print.

Potential for less commercial conservatism when compared to MTV

Online market leaders can still attract advertising

  • Pitchfork
  • DrowedinSound
  • Quietus

Crowd sourcing in the music industry

  • Amanda Palmer
  • ‘We are the media’ – Kickstarter and Patron.

Games Journalism:

Not to be confused with ‘news games’

Treating computer games like a respectable media is new within mainstream media

  • Games and violence
  • Magazine journalism

Like football and music there is a strong link with the industry with the potential for corruption.

  • Withholding pre-release games unless a good review is promised

Respected online games and magazines and vlogs with a reputation for credibility

  • Forums e.g. Reddit and Something Awful



Like ‘hard news’ journalism many more niche markets of genre journalism have suffered from a pressure to cut costs and opportunities to make money in some of these areas (e.g.music) have decreased.

The lack of complexity and context within genre journalism reporting is also similar to criticisms aimed at the commercialisation of hard news.

The more towards online sourcing has reduced the role of the journalist as gatekeeper and brought fans closer to the people they want to read about.

‘Soft’ or celebrity news still makes a lot of money but this doesn’t insulate these genres from commercial

The range of multimedia options is beneficial to the quality of journalism but may put additional pressure on increasingly unstaffed newsrooms.




Week 7: Drones and newsgathering

  • “The capacity of technology to deliver immediacy is simultaneously the failure of technology to establish connectivity.”

Chouliaraki, L (2006) The Spectatorship of Suffering, London: Sage p26

  • “Every generation of journalist has a responsibility to use the tools available to them in order to discover and report the truth.”

Lewis Whylde, photographer, interview with author, 2012

  • Regulations UK

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sets the rules on drones in the UK under what is called an air navigation order.

An unmanned aircraft must never be flown beyond the normal unaided “line of sight” of the person operating it- this is generally measured as 500m horizontally or 122m vertically.

Fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 50m distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure

Not be flown within 150m of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert.

For commercial purposes, operators must have permission to fly a drone from the CAA.

  • Civilian applications:


Rescue services

Monitoring pipelines, cables and railways

Surveys for oil or agriculture

  • How are the media using drones?

Some initial uses:

Drama series, advertising, crime/incident reporting

  • What do we learn?

“The capacity of technology to deliver immediacy is simultaneously the failure of technology to establish connectivity.”

Chouliaraki, L (2006) The Spectatorship of Suffering, London: Sage p26

  • Issues:

Who is in control?

“The real question mark is not over the people who comply with the rules but those who don’t. How can you identify them? What kind of data is being collected and what is it being used for?”

John Moreland, general secretary, UAV Systems Association.


Collateral intrusion

Australian privacy commissioner has warned that it could be impossible to stop people being filmed.

In 2010 Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that privacy was just a “social norm” of the past…

“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.”

  • Who’s setting the rules?

Regulatory bodies e.g. CAA

Producers being proactive e.g.Geo-fencing

Codes and ethical guidance

Corporate Imperatives

  • Power in the hands of citizens:

Uncovering pollutions

Using by the Occupy movement

Monitoring oil rigs

Tracking poachers

Revealing illegal logging in Southeast Asia

  • The same what camera phones and social media have enabled citizen reporting.


Week 6: Sourcing

  • Definition of a source:

In Journalism, a source is a person, publication, or other record or document that gives timely information. Outside Journalism, sources are sometimes known as “news sources”.

  • Twin themes of sources:

Source proliferation:

100 hours of video is uploaded every hour onto Youtube

42 million blogs in the US alone (Blogging.org)

Half a million daily new posts (Blogging.org)

500 million Tweets per day

Wikileaks in 2010 leaked nearly 92,000 U.S. military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan

Source concentration

  • Stories are told to journalist by people
  • Journalists can decided which stories they will hear.
  • Who are these people telling us stuff?

Part 1: Research on sourcing:

(1) Over reliance on elite sources leading to silencing of dissident voices (Hall et al, 1978)

  • The need for journalism and speed and professional notions about objectivity “combine to produce a systematically structured over accessing to the media of those in powerful and privileged institutional positions.” (Hall et al, 1978: 58)

(2) Marginalising the public (Lewis et al, 2005)

  • Hierarchy of credibility:

The higher the status of the speaker- the greater the relative amount of media attention.

The higher the status of the speaker- the more direct the presentation

The higher the status of the speaker- the greater the tendency of media personnel to endorse the speaker’s assumptions

(Davis, H,H. 1985:46)

(3) Reliance on agency for foreign news

  • Reuters and AP produce print/photos/television/radio/graphics
  • Reuters put out over two million words
  • RTV and APTN put out over 5 hours or edited stories and many more of live coverage
  • APTN supply pictures to 88% of the world’s television broadcasters and thousands of online outlets.
  • “Nearly half of all the press stories appeared to come wholly from agency services.” (Lewis et al, 2008:5)

(4) Reliance on PR for national news

  • Nearly one fifth of both print and television stories relied heavily on PR material or activity. (Lewis et al 2008:7)
  • Increasing reliance on ‘information subsidies’

Cutting of news budgets

More copy- less time on each story

Less time to go out and news gather

Less specialisation

News cycle means less time to check

Part 2: Changing landscapes 

  • This proliferation does it leads to new voices or new ways of doing things?
  • A lot of research shows how new initiatives are ‘normalised’
  • More recent research perhaps shows an opening up of sourcing.


  • Carvin’s sources:

More than 70% of retweets were alternative sources

Only 25% from mainstream media voices

This points to ‘the considerable impact of non-elite sources in the construction of the news on Carvin’s Twitter Feed.’ (Hermida et al 2012:9)

  • Live blog- Web-native news artefacts:

Live blogs increase public engagement

Public more likely to participate- due to:

1.) level and quality of interaction with the journalist/s

2.) The quality of the reader’s participation in contrast to the ‘depressing’ quality of comments elsewhere online.

3.) Increased credibility of the journalist through transparency and responsiveness.

Part 3: Future issues for sourcing- Credibility and Verification

Research shows journalists rate credibility to be the most mportant factor in using a source

“As human agents stand behind virtually all news, the role played by credibility judgement in their selection is relevant to virtually all news information.” (Reich, 2011: 52)

Takes time to verify your source so journalist rely on:

Status of source e.g. institutional/power

Relationship with source- over a period of time

  • Verifying sources:

Buy in credibility- getting others with credibility to vouch for veracity of the source

Or do it yourself? e.g. Brown Moses- self taught

  • Crowd-sourced verification:

Storyful (.com)

-A news agency designed to deal with social media

-Subscription service

-Open newsroom

-A new media business model- funding ‘good’ journalism

  • Verification process:

“The process is inherently social, and the input of members of the community can be vital, and can be tested, opening the possibility of ‘gamifying’ such work on a larger scale, and making it cooperative.” (storyful)

  • The future role of the Journalist:

“In a networked media environment, the journalist emerges as a central node trusted to authenticate, interpret, and contextualise information flows on social awareness streams, drawing on a distributed and networked newsroom where knowledge and expertise are fluid, dynamic and hybrid” (Hermida et al, 2012)






Week 5: News agencies

  • Agencies as ‘wholesalers’

Wholesaler    ->                               News agency

Retailer          ->          Broadcasters               Newspapers, magazines

Consumer     ->  You                                and                                    Me

  • Types: Medium





  • Types: Geography




International- AP/Reuters

  • Types: Ownership



Non-profit consortiums

  • ‘Invisible giants’ – International News Agencies


  • International news gathering:

Self shot pictures                      ———->    A

Other broadcaster’s pictures ———->   London     ———->

UGC pictures                               ———->  Newsroom


  • Reach- per day:

Reuters are put out over two million words

RTV and APTN put out over 5 hours of edited stories and many more of live coverage.

RTV and APTN between them supply pictures to over 5,000 broadcasters in 120 countries.

APTN supply pictures to 88% of the world’s television broadcasters

  • Global reach:

Every day two billion people see at least a few minutes of agency footage.

  • Reuters:

Founded in 1851

Private company

HQ in London

Started Reuters Television in early 90s

Acquired by Thomson Corp in 2008

  • The Associated Press:

Founded in 1846

A not-for-profit cooperative of newspapers and broadcasters

HQ in New York

AP Television started in 1994 and based in London

  • Modern print reporting style:

‘Modern journalism was an Anglo-American invention.”

Despatches had to be reliable and stick to facts

  • The inverted pyramid:

TOP:    Most newsworthy info- who,what,when,where,why,how?

MIDDLE: Important details

BOTTOM: Other general info background info

  • Bureau locations:






(Paterson 2011)

  • Why have agencies?

‘Retail’ news organisations want to give “the impression of omnipresence” (Fenby, 1971, in Paterson 2011)

It’s cheaper than doing it yourself

Act as insurance policy against missing the story

Provide credibility

  • Why do they matter? Critiques

Cultural imperialism

Narrow range of stories

Narrow range of sources

Agenda setting in a time of plenty

  • Types of stories agencies cover 1995:

30% Europe

23% United States

19% Asia

28% The rest- Africa, Latin America, the Middle East

  • Types of story 2009:

One day’s television footage from Reuters and AP on November 2009

30% United States

27% Europe

25% Asia

10% South America

No Africa

  • Story subjects:


International politics

Some celebrity/sport/soft stories

Africa is only covered if it’s a disaster/war

  • Coverage imbalance:

“Some parts of the world are unmistakably more worthy of news coverage than others, and if all news were regarded more or less equally ( a war here is as important as a war over there), we might expect a fairly even distribution of stories across the globe over time.”

  • Agenda setting:

Location of stories

Story subject

Editing of stories- broadcasters often using agency edited versions


  • Pictures travel, discourse do not (Hahn, 2008)


  • Possible Futures:

A fragmentation of news suppliers as regional markets emerge

Further cuts in foreign coverage means more reliance on agencies

Agencies have moved online to supply directly to audience

A growth in UGC and social media does not necessarily mean there is less reliance on agencies

‘The global news agencies have in abundance the one thing almost no other media have in any form: ew content (Paterson, 2008:151)

They continue to present the world to us

Lecture 4: Regulating the web

Social media, identity and control

  • There is a clear relationship between identity and regulability.

Every time you give away factual information about yourself online, you are potentially making it easier for your behaviour to be tracked, controlled, and possibly later punished.

  • “The absence of relatively self-authenticating facts in cyberspace makes it extremely difficult to regulate behaviour there. If we could walk around at the ‘The Invisible Man’ in real space, the same would be true about real space as well” (Laurence Lessig, p.45)
  • “Wikipedia doesn’t say ‘welcome back, Larry’ when i surf to its site to lookup an entry, and neither does Google” (p.25-46)


  • Lessig prediction #1:

The web will move towards an architecture in which not only are we less anonymous, but in which our personal identiry plays a leading role in much of our interaction, and is thus an “architecture of control.” (paraphrase)

  • More accountable?

“Having people use their real names on Facebook makes them more accountable, but also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech” (emphasis added)

  • The social contract:

In for sacrificing certain freedoms, citizens are afforded certain basic benefits, such as protection from each other and invading enemies, via the rule of law and the military respectively.

Carol Pateman: The “divine” right to rule was replaced by the notion that people were born fundamentally equal., and thus that the members of a society had to consent to be governed.

  • Different regulated identities:

Consumer or commercial identity

Social identity

Legal Identity

  • Section 127: Improper use of public electronic communications network:

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he–

(a) sends by means of public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

(b) causes any such message or matter to be sent