Old & New Media: Why can’t we work together?

This morning I attended a press event at NAIT where the winner of the 2008 novaNAIT challenge was announced. Congratulations to Stephane Contre who won first place with his crime forecasting software. You can read more in my post at Techvibes.

There was an impressive number of media people present – perhaps, as one of the NAIT representatives remarked, because everyone is sick of doing Christmas stories. Or maybe they were there simply because it’s their job to be there. While I was standing around, I happened to overhear a conversation between a couple of the camera guys. One guy did most of the talking, and though I only heard part of it, I think I caught enough:

“Why would you put this on the web? No one cares about this kind of story. You basically have to force-feed it to them during the evening news.”

Not word-for-word, but that’s the gist of it. I’m not sure who he is or which organization he’s from, so his job is safe (not that I’d name names anyway). If I were his boss however, I’d have fired him on the spot had I overheard that remark. He clearly doesn’t get it.

novaNAIT Challenge 2008

Why wouldn’t you put this story online? Give me almost any topic, and I’ll find you a community of people who care about it on the web. That’s one of the greatest things about the web – it makes it easy for small, geographically separated groups of people with similar interests to come together. And when they do, they’re not so small anymore.

Anyway, I don’t know what he was talking about. Technology and entrepreneurship, especially together, are topics that tons of people care about. Such as the community of people that read Techvibes.

Here’s a better question – why bother sending that camera guy for a story like this? I arrived with a point-and-shoot and my Flip video camera. The media guys all had DSLRs and large fancy video cameras, complete with lighting and microphones and other equipment. Obviously they acquired some higher quality content, suitable for broadcasting, but one camera could have done that – half a dozen wasn’t necessary. Heck, give one guy a Nikon D90 and he could have recorded high quality stills and HD video for the evening news. It seems like an incredible waste of resources the way news is gathered now.

Basically, what many people have been saying became real for me today. Local media organizations should be doing what they do best, and linking to the rest. This wasn’t a “breaking news” kind of story – why not let the citizen journalists gather the news and use the organization’s resources for something else? Why can’t we work together?

Of course, most local news organizations don’t know the meaning of the word link. They can’t even be bothered to hyperlink the URLs they include inside their own stories!

Here’s the funniest part of all this. This story will probably get a sixty second spot on the evening news, and the folks who are interested will fire up Google to find out more (I remain unconvinced that anyone uses those annoying “links in the news” sections of TV station websites). And guess where they’ll end up? Potentially here, and definitely at Techvibes (and they can then follow a link to all my photos and videos from the event). Heck, four of the top ten results in Google for “novaNAIT challenge” were created by me and all I did is write a couple of posts and upload some photos. So, thanks in advance camera guy!

Edmonton Notes for 12/20/2008

Here are some Edmonton-related things I found interesting this week:

Northern Voice 2009 Speaker Submission: Examining Twitter’s Impact on News Media

artwork by basco5I’ll be making my way to Vancouver once again this February for Northern Voice – Canada’s blogging and social media conference. I’ve attended every year since the event started in 2005, with varying levels of participation. In that first year, I was on a media panel. In 2006 and 2007, I did some recording and podcasting of the sessions. And last year, I was just a regular attendee. This year, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring to be a speaker. What would I like to talk about? Why, Twitter of course!

The deadline for speaker submissions is Friday. My intent with this post is to get some feedback – do you think what I’m pitching here would be an interesting and worthwhile session? Here’s what I’m thinking:

Examining Twitter’s Impact on News Media

Whether you “get it” or not, Twitter has changed news media forever. The microblogging service continues its push into the mainstream, and is wreaking all kinds of havoc along the way!

In this session we’re going to see how Twitter is impacting news media around the world. We’ll take a look at some notable examples from 2008, with particular focus placed on the American and Canadian political events. We’ll see why Twitter is the best place for breaking news, and how large news media organizations are starting to take advantage of the service – both for broadcasting and listening.

Local news is also being greatly affected by Twitter. We’ll examine one Canadian city in particular, Edmonton, to see how Twitter is used throughout the month of January 2009. Using data retrieved primarily from Twitter Search, we’ll examine the statistics (such as number of tweets posted, what time of day is most active, etc.) to identify trends and to help us correlate tweets with the local events and news of the month.

Finally, we’ll quickly examine how Twitter’s impact on news media translates to other industries – no one is safe!

I’d love to hear any comments or feedback you might have, as well as any suggestions on how to improve the session. Leave a comment below, or email me if that’s more your thing. I’d also encourage you to keep an eye on the Northern Voice site for updates! Thank you in advance!

Edmonton Notes for 12/13/2008

Here are some Edmonton-related things I found interesting this week:

Edmonton Notes for 12/6/2008

Here are some Edmonton-related things I found interesting this week:

Following the current Canadian political drama on Twitter

As I’m sure you’ve heard or read by now, we’ve got an interesting situation unfolding here in Canada. Essentially the Liberal Party, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois have joined forces to propose a new Liberal-NDP coalition government that would replace Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada. You can learn more about the sequence of events at Wikipedia.

Back in September, I wrote about Canadian Politicians on Twitter. My guess is that our political leaders created accounts in reaction to what was happening south of the border, particularly with Barack Obama’s campaign. So I’m not surprised that none of them have updated their accounts with news about the issue at hand, with the exception of the newly launched LiberalHQ account.

Canadians are definitely talking about the news on Twitter, even if our politicians aren’t. At the moment, the hashtag #coalition is the second most popular topic according to Twitter Search. Other hashtags being used include #canadarally, #canada, #democracy, and #libndp.

Click here to see all related tweets.

There are also a bunch of new accounts being created to cover the news. You can follow both @yes_coalition and @no_coalition if you like!

In addition to some really thoughtful, funny, or otherwise interesting comments from fellow Canadians, you can find links and other resources related to the coalition on Twitter. Here are a few of the things I found:

Also found via Twitter – the news made The Huffington Post today! You’ll find dozens of other news articles, but one that caught my eye is the Globe and Mail’s list of Harper’s ten options.

I’m sure even more interesting things will surface over the next few days. The mainstream media will do a fine job of covering the news, but they can’t match the speed of Twitter. If you want to track the situation in real-time, keep Twitter Search open at all times!

Edmonton Notes for 11/29/2008

Here are some Edmonton-related things I found interesting this week:

Social Media and Local News in Edmonton

My favorite media/journalism/news blogger is Jeff Jarvis. His blog, BuzzMachine, is a treasure trove of information and insight on how the web is transforming the world of news media. Jeff has spent a lot of time thinking about local news specifically, a topic I am very interested in. Yesterday he wrote a post summarizing his thoughts on where local news might go. These are the highlights for me:

“The next generation of local (news) won’t be about news organizations but about their communities.”

“News will emerge from networks.”

“Do what you do best and link to the rest will be a foundation of the future architecture of news.”

“News will find new forms past the article, which will include any media, wiki snapshots of knowledge, live reports, crowd reports, aggregation, curation, data bases, and other forms not yet created.”

I encourage you to read the entire post, it’s definitely worth it.

Thinking about Jeff’s post made me wonder what local news organizations here in Edmonton are doing to prepare for the future. Are they focused on communities? Are they creating networks? Are they specializing and linking elsewhere? Are they supporting news beyond the article?

In general, I think the answer to those questions is no. An examination of how local news organizations are using social media is somewhat encouraging, however. Why look at social media? Generally speaking, I think blogs, social networks, etc., address all four areas – communities, networks, linking & sharing, and life beyond the article.

These are some of the traditional sources for local news here in Edmonton, with links to their social media activities:

As you can see, there are quite a few organizations that still haven’t gotten their feet wet with social media (unless I missed some links – one thing all these sites have in common is that they are terribly messy and hard to navigate). The Journal appears to be the most active, with a Facebook application, Twitter account, and blogs and podcasts on its site. The relatively new iNews880 is similarly active. All the organizations offer RSS feeds except for Global Edmonton, Citytv Edmonton, and SEE Magazine (the Edmonton Sun recently added feeds).

These days, I get most of my local news from four main sources:

The trend I have noticed is that breaking news starts with the traditional organizations but is spread by individuals through services like Twitter, Connect2Edmonton, and Facebook (and good old-fashioned word of mouth too). Organizations like The Journal have people dedicated to gathering the news, so it makes sense that they’d be the ones to break the news (most of the time). They could definitely be doing a better job of interacting with the community and forming networks online to spread that news, however. And they pretty much do nothing beyond the article, at least at the moment (heck the Journal won’t even hyperlink URLs inside their articles).

Take yesterday’s story about the new arena concept, for instance. I first heard about the news on C2E. I understand that Citytv was the first traditional source to pick up on the story. I spread the news via Twitter and my blog, and others did the same. Today articles appeared in The Journal, on CBC Edmonton’s site, and elsewhere, but they didn’t really offer anything new, and they didn’t provide links to the images, video, maps, or other bits of information readers might be interested in.

I like the vision for local news that Jeff Jarvis has suggested, but it seems to me that the local organizations aren’t leading the way into that future. Instead, individuals are dragging them into it. I wonder if that will always be the case?

Edmonton Notes for 11/22/2008

Here are some Edmonton-related things I found interesting this week:

  • The big news this week was the meteor (video is embedded below too). Everyone was talking about it, and Edmonton was mentioned on newscasts throughout North America. Very cool. You can read more about it here.
  • Local tech firm Nirix announced a new marketing competition for students in Alberta called sparkIT. The deadline to register is January 26th, 2009.
  • The Olympic torch will be making its way through Edmonton in 2010. The route will include 1020 communities across Canada.
  • All of Edmonton’s high schools have been equipped with portable, lunch box-sized defibrillators. A grant from the Canadian Legion of Frontiersmen made it possible.
  • Edmonton has been named a finalist in the 2009 Intelligent Community Forum’s Smartest Community in the World competition. The top 7 will be announced on January 21st, 2009 with the winner named on May 15th, 2009. Last year’s winner was Waterloo, Ontario.
  • Homeward Trust finally released the report for this year’s Homeless Count to the media. The final number is 3079. Hopefully it’ll be posted to their website next week.
  • Local radio station Sonic 102.9 FM has joined Twitter! You can follow them here. The popular Edmonton Fire Radio also joined, you can follow them here.

Edmonton Notes for 11/15/2008 – Holiday Light Up! Edition

Earlier this evening, Sharon and I went to check out the Christmas on the Square Holiday Light Up! event. Mayor Mandel and Santa were on hand to help light up the largest Christmas tree we’ve ever had in Edmonton – 83 feet tall, with over 8000 energy efficient lights on it! BrightNights was also launched, and there were choirs, free wagon rides, and a tented version of the 104th Street City Market. Great weather today meant that Churchill Square was absolutely packed!

Holiday Light Up!Holiday Light Up!

You can see more photos and video here. The neat thing about the fireworks is that they were timed to the music!

Here are some Edmonton-related things I found interesting this week: