Three Positive Stories About Social Distribution

There have been endless articles about the rise of mobile news platforms which predict doom for publishers. This week however, Radar is focused on the positive as we look at three articles about how mobile is going to save news.

Firstly, here is a podcast from On The Media, hosted by Bob Garfield and featuring Cory Haik of the Washington Post.

Haik argues that the mobile news services from Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple are forces for good offering salvation for news. She believes that the mobile news apps have coalesced because of the rise of the smartphone. Consumers want to be able to read news on their phone and social media is responding, rather than forcing behaviour on consumers.

And what of Facebook as the big bad wolf? Well her experience at the Washington Post seems to have been nothing but collaborative. If there is a risk, she feels it would be in ignoring the rise of mobile, rather than pushing against it. When asked about Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm which determines which articles should appear in a person’s feed she can point to positive examples where content surfaces above the gossip and has been actively promoted by the platforms.

For more positive views of the news on social, turn to Media Shifts Ideas Lab which offers lessons in ‘how to do social journalism and avoid platform anxiety’. Author Sam Berkhead looks at a great story for the Washington Post by Jonathan O’Connell which tells the story about the X2 bus route through the tweets of the passengers.

Libby Nelson, education reporter at Vox.com also liked this story. She says that when embraced, the constraints of reporting on Twitter can actually foster creativity;

“There are constraints, but in some ways constraints are good,” she said. “They can make you more creative; they can make you think about ways to use what you have or to rearrange what you have. It’s what you do within those constraints.”

Nelson acknowledges that for those those who want to train to be a journalist the ever evolving range of required skills and job titles can be daunting. However she argues that the traditional skills of journalism are at the heart of reporting on social media, and the rest of it can be learned on the job.

Video journalist Brad Horn at the Washington Post says that it can be harder for news organisations to preserve their core identity on someone else’s platform. However, uploading work to Facebook guarantees big audience figures. In order to stand out however, he thinks it’s essential to bring something new to the table;

“Let it show on social that you care about something, whether it’s healthcare policy, pop culture or politics,” he said. “Be additive to the conversation. Be able to understand the story, get to the part that matters and deliver it back out into that conversation. I think the social space allows you to project who you are and can be really useful to use when you move forward and look for a career.”

David Cohn former Chief Content Officer of Circa has also got some positive things to say about social news on his Digidave blog. For him it’s all about ‘Platform Intelligence’ and embracing the constraints of a new media platform in order to create content that fits well into the format.

My friend Brian Boyer says “nobody ever invented a cocktail in a full bar.”By which he means “embrace the constraints.” They are a good thing. They give you direction and purpose. Are you writing something for Twitter. It better be 140 characters. Maybe create an image to make it go further. Make use a quick tool to ensure the image is cropped for Twitter.


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