Social Media, Tips

Social Media Is About Failure and Forgiveness

This post was originally published Mar. 25, 2011, for the Asian American Journalists Association.

How to do social media right: experiment, screw up and ask for forgiveness.

Repeat until you succeed.

“Be fearless,” said Kevin Sablan, head of the Orange County Register’s web efforts and new-media leader. He gave a presentation Wednesday on social media and innovation, presented by the Asian American Journalists Association of San Diego.

View of the audience at the Microsoft Store during Kevin Sablan's presentation.

The audience at AAJA-San Diego's program on social media and innovation at the Microsoft Store in San Diego, California, on March 23, 2011.

Sablan, AAJA-San Diego’s first speaker of 2011, told the journalists and public relations professionals in attendance that even successful companies like Google have made their share of mistakes. He took us through its product graveyard that houses forgettable products including Google Buzz, its answer to Twitter and Facebook, and Google Wave, which was supposed to make-over Gmail.

Both were flops, Sablan said, but showed the importance of trying something new, giving up when things don’t work and not belaboring failure.

Sablan, a respected member of the Web journalism community, also talked about tools that help people filter, group and make sense of the noise on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media channels.

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Social Media, Tools

The One Rule of Social Media: Experiment

Headshots of the panelists from Mashable's NextUp NYC

Today’s journalism landscape will change tomorrow. And that’s an exciting concept, no doubt, but it can also be frustrating.

So when I signed up to attend last month’s panel, called “The Emerging Skills of Tomorrow’s Journalist,” I thought I’d leave with answers. Would someone actually be able to point me in the right direction? Would I leave knowing which tools make it simpler for journalists to navigate this rough sea of social journalism?

Turns out, I didn’t leave with answers. The panel featured Mashable’s Vadim Lavrusik, New York University’s Jay Rosen, CNN’s Laurie Segall, the New York Times’ Jenna Wortham and All Things Digital’s Drake Martinet, but it quickly became apparent that even these leaders don’t have any magic beans in their pockets.

And in a way, this was the panel’s most powerful message: the secret is, there is no secret.

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Mobile, Social Media

How #ViewFromMyWindow Engaged Twitter Users in a Snowstorm

This post was originally published on, Jan. 12, 2011.

Flickr photo posted to Twitter with hashtag #ViewFromMyWindow by Penny Camberville.

Every time there’s a snowstorm, WBUR asks ours readers/listeners to submit photos on Flickr — and then we grumble when hardly anyone participates. I think I finally figured out what we’ve been doing wrong.

Flickr is the wrong place for this kind of engagement. Most people don’t carry around cameras while going about their daily lives. And even those who do might not take the time to download, edit, and then upload to Flickr till several hours later.

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Social Media, Tools

Why Journalists Should Care About RockMelt

Screenshot of the Rockmelt browser taken from the creator's website.

The buzz around RockMelt has been intense. Yet some journalists are wondering if this is something they need to pay attention to. If you haven’t heard, RockMelt is a new Web browser that directly integrates social media. If you’re still confused, the New York Times has a useful user manual that is pretty easy to follow and it also includes a guide on how to download it.

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Future of Journalism, Social Media

What to Do With Twitter Errors

Not too long ago Craig Silverman, author of blog Regret the Error, listed some of the most offensive journalism errors of 2010. (December got a free pass?) Among some of the more humorous media errors, Twitter real-time verification was named was named as the trend of the year.

We’re seeing many of forms of misinformation spread rapidly online and take hold in real-time. Whether it was an incorrect tweet about a volcano eruption in Iceland, a Washington Post editorial writer mistaking a fake Twitter account for the real thing, or people wrongly tweeting and retweeting that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been removed from Time’s Person Of The Year contest, we saw how the real-time nature of the online world causes problems and errors.

Reporter and blogger Kevin Loker points out that tweets are not held to the same meticulous fact checking a printed new story must go through before publication.

You probably have one – maybe two – sets of eyes that read over your headline before it’s tweeted. You ideally don’t make a mistake in the headline. If you do, you can’t change it. Most news outlets will send out another tweet noting the correction, because as in any medium, it’s common practice that errors can’t be left completely unattended.

Loker makes an interesting point that Twitter errors do not affect “media gurus,” because they will more than likely see the correction. Instead, he argues that those who do not focus on the news may be the most at risk for taking an error as truth.

Loker also argues that audiences are to blame if they cannot catch tweeting errors.

Just as it’s an individual’s own actions that lead them to a correction box in a print publication, it’s an individual’s own actions that make them knowledgeable or ignorant about any given news story.

Loker’s point is one of the many voices arguing that audiences must verify information coming off of Twitter. One blog offers four steps to verify a tweet while another urges news readers to join the Report an Error alliance. These sites are helpful but do they show a frighteningly cushioned error tolerance among news reporters? It seems that readers are now expected to verify news. And if so, who is defining the error tolerance level and why are we so quick to allow it?

Silverman returns again in his Columbia Review Journal column to explain what to do once a tweet is found false. According to him, it is the news media’s job not only to correct it via twitter but to continue correcting it.

It’s difficult to say how many corrections are necessary, but one good way to gauge would be to see if the mistaken information is still being retweeted. As long as it’s being passed around, you should be issuing corrections and asking people to RT your correction.

Overall, accuracy seems to be the main concern of all these bloggers and reporters. Twitter continues to be a critical tool for journalists but as Silverman puts it, “the difference between making an error and getting it right is often a matter of making one or two phone calls. Accuracy is often easier and faster to achieve than we think.”

Links, Mobile, Multimedia, Social Media, Teaching, Tips, Tools

Journalist’s Toolbox Updated for #spj10

This post was originally published on the Journalist’s Toolbox, a resource offered by the Society of Professional Journalists. It was republished here with permission.

SPJ National Convention

Some great links from Jeff Cutler’s online tools session and others on Monday: for mining story ideas; Advanced for detailed Twitter and hashtag searches and WalletPop, a finance site that helps you find the most dangerous neighborhoods for crime. More to come later in the convention!

Add SPJ National Convention

The Journalist’s Toolbox will post tweets live Oct. 3-5 from the convention in Las Vegas. Just follow @journtoolbox and the #spj10 hashtag.

Copy Editing Resources

It’s not the fanciest site on the Web, but has a great quick-reference page. Another helpful tool: Thsrs, the shorter thesaurus, which produces shorter synonyms for any word you type in. It’s a very helpful tool for writing short, tight headlines.

Twitter Resources

We’ve added dozens of new resources, including Twitter guides for journalists, backgrounds, URL shorteners and other tools on the Toolbox’s Twitter Resources page.

Mobile Journalism Resources

The Toolbox has launched a Mobile Journalism page that features links to app-making tools, readings on mobile media strategy and a list of recommended apps for journalists to use on their smart phones.

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