Is social media driving open journalism?

I saw a compelling advert the other evening  at the cinema.  It’s the story of the Three Little Pigs.  This story however, is told against the glare of the continuing social media conversation going on around us.

Have a look at the Guardian video…

Makes you think doesn’t it?

It raises a few questions for how journalists use social media to get information on stories – and how the voice of the people have the power to influence the way that large organisations work.

Twitter highlighted the feelings of the people about Tesco employing job seekers in ‘slave labour claims’.  The Arab spring in Egypt used Facebook to rally and mobilise ordinary people. YouTube shows examples of atrocities directed towards local citizens in Syria.

Information and images, not normally visible to us, are now shared in the world arena and giving journalists extra context to write their stories.

But does it make journalism more ‘open’?  Does it make it more compelling?

For me it’s all about choice.  Choice of what information to take in and which to discard.

  • Extra information allows me to weed through the trash, rumours and speculation (remember the announcement of Obama’s death last year?).  I can get the sentiment of the story, find out whether the information I have is an isolated outburst, or a more general change in perception.
  • Citizen journalism is becoming more accurate.  After all we all have a story to tell. We can be there as the story breaks.  We have our devices, we can live blog and tweet as things happen.  Our narrative helps to tell the story as it unfolds.
  • Perhaps we might need to brush up on our narrative, tidy up a few grammar mistakes, sort out our spelling, but the story is there. We need to be accurate and careful about how we report news and be aware of just how far the story might reach.

Check that the information is accurate. Wait a few hours to talk about a story.  If it’s fake, it will soon be exposed.  You don’t need to be first to report the news, leave that for live TV

Step back and get a more balanced view.  Don’t wade in with your opinions until you have considered all the facts.  make a reasoned judgement, take some time to work our the pros and cons of the story. 

By taking a high level view, you can often see the whole picture, analyse what is really going on, and offering your opinion. 

You might go against the public outcry.  You might be right.

With the full facts you can decide for yourself whether the wolf was really to blame for blowing the houses down – or did the social media hysteria around his huff and puff get the better of him…

This is a great video Guardian.  Great for opening our eyes…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.