... na busca dessa famigerada raça chamada Jornalistas 2.0 em Portugal
20
Dez 09

Como prometido, segue a versão integral de uma das entrevistas exploratórias que foram realizadas para suporte ao enquadramento teórico do meu trabalho. O senhor chama-se Kevin Anderson, é norte-americano  e é jornalista e editor de blogues do "Guardian", o mais prestigiado jornal britânico (ver perfil completo no blogue CORANTE:

 

- First of all, how would you define social media? What sort of tools (blogs, social networking, wikis, etc) can be put in this "basket"?

 

Ok, let me define some of my terms first. I see social media is part of the larger Web 2.0 movement. That term gets thrown around a lot, but O'Reilly does provide an excellent definition of the term. To paraphrase, Dale Dougherty, a VP at O'Reilly:

 

Web 2.0 applications are those that increase in value to the users the greater the level of participation by those users.

 

In a lot of ways, this is just a different way to explain network effects, but the Web 2.0 definition is important for its emphasis on the value for the users. For a full definition and discussion of it:
http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

 

The value of Wikipedia to its users increases the more people participate in its creation. Twitter or any social networking tool only becomes valuable and useful when enough people, especially people you know or have some connection with, use it. Facebook wasn't all that useful to me when most of the people who 'friended' me were London PR agents. It was just another vehicle for them to send me press releases. It became personally useful to me when real world friends who I had lost touch with reconnected with me. Twitter became extremely useful to me as I connected with other digital journalists, sources in areas I covered and also friends.

 

I think it's useful to separate technology from the use of the technology. Blogs, Twitter, social networking sites like Twitter and almost any other social tool one can think of can be used in a social way, or they can be used in a way that looks a lot like the one-way, broadcast media (I include in print in broadcast media) that came before. There are certainly many-to-many social media in which you have many people interacting many other people, but I think in terms of journalism, the issue really isn't about the technology but how the journalist uses it. It's actually one of the failings of most current social media efforts by news organisation, they aren't social or the majority of the social activity is external to the journalism eg comments from readers with little participation from journalists.

 

In your opinion, as a journalist moving in the social media what are the opportunities and/or challenges that that are put to a journalist in the use of the web 2.0 tools ? Basically,  what has a journalist to win/lose by using social media in their professional routines?

 

Journalists can use social media to find new sources to improve their journalism that would have been difficult with traditional methods. For instance, I was able to use blogs to find soldiers in Iraq to interview when I was with the BBC. When I was at the BBC World Service, an editor at one of the main bulletins (News Hour) asked how I was able to secure an interview with a soldier in Iraq when they had been trying to secure one for months via the Pentagon with no success. I said, "I emailed him".

 

Editor: "Where did you find his email?"
Me: "It was on his blog."

 

In this time when journalists are competing for the scarce attention of audiences not only with other journalism organisations but also with other forms of digital entertainment, journalists can use social media to directly engage and involve audiences. Not only can we social media to find "wisdom in the crowds", but this greater connection with our audiences can also help build audience loyalty.
The challenges at the moment is that the recession is emptying newsrooms. We're all having to do more with less and in some cases less with less. Social media can be seen by already busy journalists as yet another demand on their time. It's difficult for journalists to find the time to build their social media skills.

 

However, social media in particular and technology more broadly can dramatically improve the efficiency of journalists, but it takes an open-mindedness to try new things and new methods.
I often say that biggest challenge in adopting social media journalism methods isn't technology but culture. Most newsrooms lack a culture of innovation, and it's one of the things that is condemning many newspapers to failure in digital age.

 

- Do you think that the shift to the "We media" paradigm is already acknowledged by the news organizations and journalists in general? What i mean is: the former audience is already understoond as a partner (and not only a target) in the news production?

 

I'm going to assume that you mean Dan Gillmor's view that the members of his audience knew more about what he was writing about than he did and could therefore provide insight and information that could improve his journalism.

 

To quote William Gibson, the future is here, it's just unevenly distributed. It really depends on the organisation, and journalists acceptance of social media (and to be honest the entire concept of digital journalism and the internet) varies widely. I think a number of sceptics who were beginning to accept the internet have now returned to their scepticism because of the recession. They blame the internet for killing newspapers and by extension journalism. I don't agree with this position, but it's a common one, commonly expressed.

 

- One of the various dimensions i'll study concerns to the social media policies that some media organizations (Big Media :-)) all over the world are implementing in their newsrooms (ex: BBC, Washington Post, etc).-What's your position about these regulation efforts? Are you con or pro, and why?

 

Policies aren't necessarily bad. It really depends on the policies themselves. The policy should set spell out some sensible guidelines but encourage exploration and experimentation. It should help the journalists find guidance when they are unclear not only by pointing them in the direction of best practices but also to members of staff who can help them. It shouldn't explicitly or implicitly create fear about social media.

 

The Guardian has a policy, which I think is quite good. NPR in the US has quite a good policy. The Washington Post's policy is pretty poor because it discourages experimentation.

 

- In spite of the differences that exist between these codes/policies they all tend to emphasize the journalists duties (fidelity above all) to the news organization. Do you believe that this is a strong argument?

 

As I said, some of the policies are good and highlight not only the risks but also the rewards. Some policies treat their employees as children. They imply a mistrust of their employees. If an editor feels like he can't trust one of his journalists, why did he or she hire them in the first place? Most of this is about fear and anxiety in the industry due to the economic difficulties that newspapers (in particular) are facing. It's a lack of courage and confidence in the face of change. The fidelity argument in some of the policies amount to an oath of fidelity of traditional journalism. Are you true to 20th century journalism or are you a 21st century digital heretic?

 

If that's the question, then I'm definitely a 21st century digital heretic. Most of this isn't about journalism but a culture war inside of newsrooms between the traditionalists and the innovators.

 

In other cases, like AFP, the restrictions are heavier and prohibit any usage of Wikipedia and Facebook as sources for the journalistic work. Do you think that this is reasonable, even if it's supported  on examples of misuse of the social media by the journalists?

Honestly, this is really an issue of sourcing. I think that banning sources such as blogs, Wikipedia and Facebook is a rather draconian solution. Some Wikipedia entries are well sourced with lots of links to the original source material. Others aren't. Rather than banning any online source, I'd like to see journalists learn more about verification of digital sources, especially in terms of spotting hoaxes online. The Guardian and several other British press outlets have been caught out referencing fake Twitter accounts (such as one from foreign secretary David Miliband or the Mayor of Balitmore hoax)

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/jun/26/twitter-michaeljackson-davidmiliband-hoax-journalism

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2009/aug/28/wire-television

 

I spotted these hoaxes quite easily because I've been an online journalist for a while, and the Mayor of Baltimore hoax, while sophisticated was easy to spot. Instead of banning online sources, I'd rather journalists get better at sourcing and verification.

 

- Some critics argue that, worse than the policies, is the idea of having someone ("vigilant") looking and censoring what the journalists do in social media environments (even if the private use). What do you think about this?

 

Standards aren't a bad thing. Personally, my standards of conduct in social media spaces are higher than most policies I've seen.
In terms of private use of social media, I try to keep my private use and professional use separate, but social media is a complex space. The lines are often blurred. I do believe that journalists need to be able to have private lives online. I think societies are finding their way through all of this so it's not difficult to see that journalists are also struggling with these blurred lines between professional and private online. We need to be realistic that we don't live in a black and a white world where the line between private and professional is a clearly defined border. Sadly, I think it's one of the problems with modern journalism, it doesn't deal with nuance and complex issues well.

 

- Can this phenomenon - the regulation - mean that social media already have an important presence in the newsrooms (is that a good sign?)

 

I wouldn't say that regulation is a sign of importance. I see it as the philosophical battle going on within newsrooms right now between traditionalists and digital innovators. The recession has caused a resurgence of traditionalist thinking and a marginalisation of digital staff in newspaper newsrooms.
Frankly, I don't see the issue. In terms of ethics and standards, my values have never changed throughout my career. They are rigorous, careful and fair. I'm a traditional journalist in terms of standards who happens to use cutting edge tools to do journalism, faster, cheaper and most importantly, better.
 


mais sobre mim
Tema do Projecto
JORNALISTAS 2.0: PROBLEMA OU OPORTUNIDADE NAS REDACÇÕES DA IMPRENSA DIÁRIA PORTUGUESA? (ainda em estudo. queria usar a palavra conversação algures...)
Autor
Tiago J. Reis
Âmbito
Mestrado em Comunicação Multimédia | Multimédia Interactivo pela Universidade de Aveiro
Ano Lectivo
2009/2010
Orientadora
Lídia Oliveira Hélder Bastos (co-orientador)
pesquisar blog
 
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