Managing Brief Data from Users to Professionals: Collaborative Trends around Microblogging for Journalism

Managing Brief Data from Users to Professionals: Collaborative Trends around Microblogging for Journalism

José Manuel Noguera (UCAM, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-841-8.ch009
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Microblogging‘s explosion has provoked changes in the Blogosphere (now bloggers prefer to publish brief content in microblogs), and it has changed some roles in journalism too. Twitter is the most important tool in this phenomenon and it has served to keep connected sources, journalists and audiences. In recent years, media and news agencies are being characterized by an intensive use of microblogs. Journalists start to be collaborate within communities of interests trough microblogging, in particular Twitter. Facts like California fires are a clear example of Twitter coverages, which were started by users and gathered by journalists. This is more than a brief and fast tool for journalism, it is related with making connections with audiences, witnesses and sources of breaking news. In this sense, this chapter will show several examples in order to explain how Twitter is a new way to design collaborative coverages. Hence, it is not just a platform on fashion.
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The relation between Twitter and media is not new, in fact, we are talking about a service which “has gone mainstream in a way not anticipated by its founders” (Ruffini, 2008). However, there are not many studies explaining how microblogging could be used by journalists. For maintaining a clear methodology, this chapter will show cases of microblogging which redefine the relations among journalists, sources and audiences. In this way, the regularities among cases are a sort of argumentation by example (Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1994). Every collaborative coverage, new trend in storytelling or special connection with audiences is a key that microblogging gives us to redefine cyberjournalism.

The main goal of this chapter is to draw the actual setting between microblogging and journalists, giving at the same time the mechanisms that come into play in that process in order to obtain general rules to improve cyberjournalism and to explain media ecosystem. Sharing status messages is easier than ever thanks to platforms like Twitter, and the success of this tool has caused that nowadays most of digital communication includes references about how to integrate microblogging services. Cyberjournalism is not out of this process. As Luckie (2008) underlines, “Twitter has quickly become the essential tool in every newsroom's and journalist's arsenal”. There are projects like ReportingOn, funded by the Knight News Challenge, with the hope that journalists would use it sharing sources, topics and ideas. ReportingOn didn't work, and the platform was rebuilt in July 2009 “from the ground up, framed around the act of asking and answering questions” (Sholin, 2009). The source code is available under a GNU General Public License and news organizations can use it to create their own backchannels. It is a clear sign of how microblogging is changing some journalistic processes, specially those related to sources, conversations and audiences.

Journalistic microblogging can be considered as a young process and there are some journalistic brief reviews (Luckie, 2008; Strupp, 2009), but there is a lack in solid academic references (Comm, et al., 2009; Java, et al., 2009; O'Reilly & Milstein, 2009) and because of this, the methodologies based on case studies can be a solution to outline microblogging's influences. In this sense, the methodology of this chapter is also to gather all the available information or at least the most relevant, about the case studies, to analyze them and establish their most significant characteristics. The chapter describes eight main cases to show how microblogging is changing journalistic coverages: Earthquake in China, California fires, plane crash lands in Hudson river, trial in Spain against P2P developer, Rick Sánchez and CNN, Ecuadorian newspaper HOY, cases of Telegraph and The Guardian, and live coverages at Homepage with microblogging, like

In this work we focus on Twitter because it has been the platform chosen by the people in the same way as YouTube was for video or Flickr for images. Services such as Jaiku are considered by some authors (Franco, 2008, p. 161) as more developed than Twitter (due to the possibility to manage channels, for instance), but the social criteria of the Web has moved to give the first competitive advantage to the platform founded by Biz Stone and Evan Williams. In spite of possible technical disadvantages, the point is that the audience is in Twitter, and people (like media) want to have an audience. No matter that there exists other good microblogging services (Jaiku,, Plurk, etc.), the audience has already chosen. Twitter is the killer-app for microblogging.

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