05 December 2008

Social Media: Key Player In News Future?

The role that social media can play in the development of online news is discussed in a new American Journalism Review article.

Author Arielle Emmett writes that news providers are increasingly turning to sites such as Twitter and Digg to stake their claim to a place in the new media world and asks whether they may become the industry’s saviour in the future.

To find out more, she spoke to experts such as James Brady from washingtonpost.com, who highlighted the advantages to be gained from social media’s experimental stage.

“My attitude is for awhile you go with the flow and try as many new things as possible, and not get crazy on day one.

“Start playing in the sandbox and eventually find out if it’s working for you. It certainly can’t hurt.”

The online executive editor also pointed out that social bookmarking websites attract young people and a sense of a networked community.

“The one thing that gets lost in all the automation and search engine gaming algorithms is that people want to know what their friends think and what people respect.

“One way to get content in front of you is to have your friends recommend it; that’s a social filtering of news.”

The advantages from engaging with social bookmarking and recommendation sites are also mentioned by Kevin Dando, director of education and online communication at PBS in the US.

He said: “We’ve also seen a dramatic increase in traffic from sites like StumbleUpon ... in the last few months, StumbleUpon itself has been one of the top 10 traffic driving sites for PBS.org.”

As for whether money can be made out of social media, a spokesman for the website of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution remains positive.

Eli Wendkos said: “The challenge continues to be how to monetise these users’ activities successfully ... a model will emerge that does just that. The question is, when will it happen?”

Visit AJR.org for the full story.

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