Visualizing social media

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Social media, the newest powerhouse phenomenon to spring from the Internet, is the ultimate people’s platform, built on the Internet’s unique characteristic as a many-to-many medium. Some social media sites, like Facebook and Flickr, have established themselves as mainstream players in citizen media; others are little known outside of their own group of users and some are still springing into being. The conversations, interactions and transactions swirling through these sites can be useful to journalists in many ways – including getting information, tracking opinion, finding sources and obtaining photographs, audio and video. But social media is a living, shape-shifting chimera and it’s hard to get a handle on it, let alone figure out how to plug it into the process of finding, assessing and packaging news. Here’s a place to start – a “conversation map” of social media sites (below).   Larger Version

Although PR executive Brian Solis says he created the chart primarily to help marketers and PR people track what’s being said in citizen media about their brands and organizations, it could be equally helpful to those who want to track what’s being exchanged in the citizen mediasphere about newsworthy subjects and issues.

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Citizen journalists no threat to professionals, journalism prof argues

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In an essay published by the Knight Citizen News Network, Clyde H. Bentley of the University of Missouri’s journalism school sympathetically reviews the historical rise of “citizen journalism” but concludes it should not be viewed as a threat by professional journalists. He says citizen news gatherers and commentators are to journalism what militia members are to the military – people who want to contribute to a vital societal function while leaving the core job to the pros.
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News “grazers” becoming the norm

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More news consumers are “checking in on the news” throughout the day. Social networking sites are not yet a major news source for the young. More than one third of smartphone users get their news from the device. These are just a few of the latest findings from the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press.
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News? I don’t need no stinkin’ news!

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About one in five Americans don’t read, watch or listen to news on a typical day, according to the latest biennial news consumption survey released by the Pew Research Center. For some sectors of the news industry, that could be considered the good news …

Here are the 15-year trend lines from survey questions designed to track where people regularly go for news:

  • Newspaper readership declined from 58 to 34 per cent
  • Radio news listeners declined from 47 to 35 per cent since
  • Local TV news viewership declined from 77 to 52 per cent
  • Network news viewership declined from 60 to 29 per cent

More recent formats for news delivery, however, are doing better:

  • Morning news show viewership held fairly steady since 1998
  • Cable TV news viewership increased from 33 to 39 per cent since 2002
  • Online news viewership jumped from 2 to 37 per cent since 1995

There’s much more to be found in the 129-page survey report. Findings will post a few more highlights during the coming days. In the meantime, click here for: A summary of the report or the full report (PDF).

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Two of three people never visit local newspaper website, U.S. study finds

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Northwestern University’s Readership Institute has released results of its 2008 Newspaper Readership tracking study. It shows a small decline in readership overall, with young people accounting for the largest decline. The study also indicates American newspapers are failing to attract many potential readers to their websites: 62 per cent of respondents – skewing toward an older demographic – reported never visiting their local paper’s site.
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Community newspapers: We’re doing just fine, thanks

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Community newspapers are not experiencing the same calamitous upheaval that North American dailies are struggling with. In fact, local papers such as those owned by Metroland and Black Press are in the midst of a transformation and Suburban Newspapers of America is going to document the statistics to prove it. 
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API project aims to help newsrooms change

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Anyone looking for ideas about how to help newsrooms cope with and adapt to change might find it useful to consult All Eyes Forward, a 164-page report outlining initial results of the American Press Institute’s “Learning Newsroom” program. It describes the first 18 months of a three-year pilot project involving 10 newspaper newsrooms, including the Spectator in Hamilton, Ont. The program is supposed to help encourage newsroom employees and managers to stop fearfully and defensively resisting change and work effectively and creatively together to channel new challenges into new opportunities. The report is honest in acknowledging that results at the midway point of the pilot project were mixed.
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Book examines media ethics from global perspective

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As news media becomes increasingly global in reach, should a worldwide standard of media ethics also evolve? This is the focus of Media Ethics Beyond Borders: A Global Perspective, a collection of research papers written by an international group of media scholars. In an article written for J-Source, co-editor Stephen Ward briefly outlines the authors’ views about whether a globalized ethics standard is possible or even desirable. “While a global media ethics does not exist, the authors believe that it is vital to imagine ways in which it might be brought into being, and what it would look like,” Ward writes. “Urgent global issues and the power of global communications point to the need for a media ethics that is global in its principles and in its understanding of media.  However, the idea of global media ethics raises tough questions. Are there universal values in journalism? How would a global media ethics do justice to the cultural and economic differences around the world?”

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In the CJC: Parachute journalism in Haiti, climate change reporting and more …

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The latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication (Vol. 33, No. 2) includes several research articles of interest to the journalism community, including:

“Parachute Journalism” in Haiti: Media Sourcing in the 2003-2004 Political Crisis by Isabel Macdonald, York University
Abstract: The Canadian media’s reliance on parachute and wire agency journalists during the lead-up to the 2004 coup d’état in Haiti exemplified the trends associated with recent cuts to foreign news. A content analysis of the Globe and Mail, plus interviews with journalists, reveal that the deadline pressures and hotel journalism associated with these trends contributed, in the absence of coherent official messages on the Haiti crisis, to journalists’ reliance on sources from a U.S. and Canadian government–supported political movement spearheaded by Haiti’s business and media elite that sought to overthrow the democratically elected Haitian government.

The Framing of Climate Change in Canadian, American, and International Newspapers: A Media Propaganda Model Analysis by Jennifer Ellen Good, Brock University
Abstract: As a news story topic, climate change has potential narrative elements that include the oil industry and the earth’s climatic balance. With the world’s leading scientists now insisting that the story should be shifting from whether
climate change is happening to “What are we going to do about it?” this article offers a critical comparative analysis of how American, Canadian, and international newspapers are framing this key issue. Based on Herman and Chomsky’s (1988) media propaganda model, the findings indicate that while newspapers in the United States might be avoiding the issue, all three “regions” show a hesitancy to frame climate change with either extreme weather consequences or oil reduction solutions.

Sui Generis: Tobacco Sponsorship Advertising and Canadian Campus Newspapers by Daniel J. Robinson, University of Western Ontario
Abstract: This article examines tobacco sponsorship advertising in 18 college and university newspapers in Canada from 2002 to 2004. It documents the financial value of tobacco advertising in the year before the federal ban on this form of advertising, which began in October 2003. Tobacco spending formed nearly half of these newspapers’ national advertising revenues. The paper examines advertising revenue and publishing output in the year following the ad ban. While national ad revenue fell 28% in 2003-04, this did not adversely affect newspaper operations: the newspapers published 1.4% more pages—and more issues—in 2003-04 than in the previous year. In accounting for this anomalous finding, the paper discusses the sui generis nature of campus newspapers, which embody elements of commercial and non-profit media, while remaining an under-researched and under-theorized area of communication studies.

Gaps in Canadian Media Research: CMRC Findings by Philip Savage, McMaster University
Abstract: In-depth interviews conducted with leading Canadian mass media and new media managers, communication policy practitioners, and scholarly and professional media researchers reveal significant gaps in current Canadian media research. There are foreign sources but almost no Canadian contemporary sources for ongoing research in the following five broad areas: 1) Media usage; 2) Media ownership; 3) New media forms; 4) Media diversity; and 5) Media policy. These results were reported to the Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC) in 2007 and will shape its funding orientation and, perhaps, the direction for future Canadian media research more broadly.

Note: Full articles are available by subscription.

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U.S. media momentarily notices ‘other’ war

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It’s the war the United States started after 9/11 and then forgot – Afghanistan. In fact, coverage of the war in Afghanistan has accounted for less than 1 per cent of American news media content during the past few years, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s News Index. But U.S. news media noticed when 400 prisoners busted out of Kandahar jail earlier in June and have since allocated a little more time and space to covering “the other war.” 
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