Archive for the ‘Citizen Journalism’ Category


Crises Tracking on Twitter: The Benefits –and Dangers– of New Media

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Yesterday morning, on a slow Sunday, I was witness to yet another disaster being reported from first hand sources on Twitter. This has reoccured for the small explosion at Times Square last year, Earthquake in China, Bombings in India, Fires in L.A., and now a propane factory exploding in Toronto.

When I tweeted that “BREAKING: @photojunkie citizen journalist has pics and video of Toronto explosion, BEFORE press story http://tinyurl.com/6rke9q” I was acting like an amplifier. Some reporters follow me and it quickly was swept into the LATimes blog, and I was contacted in email by a Canadian newspaper, who I sent to Photojunkie, a real source, as I was not.

Of course, this leads to some risks: 1) Sources may panic, and over or under state the situation. 2) Determining who is a credible source is a challenge, 3) Echos from the online network may over pump or mis state very important facts that could impact people’s safety. How did I know that Photojunkie wasn’t lying? I don’t. I did however first review his site, his history on Twitter, and saw his pictures and videos before pointing to them.

Key Takeaways

  • The new News Wire is now Twitter, the “Twire”?
  • News continues to break from first hand sources, in the past, the press would break the stories.
  • The jobs of the press are both easier and harder: They’ve improved access to sources in real time, but the level of noise has increased.
  • Press and Media must monitor Twitter: we’ve never seen information break as fast as this.
  • Press still have a very important role: vetting out what’s true and false to the best of their ability.
  • The community (myself included) must be mindful of what’s real and what’s not, over hyping or spreading false information could impact lives.
  • Emergency response teams and local municipalities should monitor the online chatter, just as they do emergency short wave channels.
  • Below are some shocking videos that were taken, warning, there is harsh language, and some of this is very frightening, imagine being woken up in the middle of the night, the cause unknown, I can imagine how scary this is.


    Toronto Explosion from photojunkie on Vimeo.
    Above Video from Photojunkie, you can hear the individual propane tanks explode. We later learned from the newspaper the star that “propane tanks dropping from the sky


    Above Video (Language, Scary): This YouTube Video (already seen 59,000 times) has some cursing, so be careful when playing at work. The reaction and shaky scene isn’t out of the next Cloverfield movie, but it has the same scary intensity of first person recordings. In the past, news teams would have to interview these witnesses, now we see for ourselves through their eyes. There’s no way a journalist could truly report the shockwave and people’s reaction, if pictures tell a thousand words, what do videos tell? (video found on Dave Fleet’s site)

    Ditching the Digital Camera for the Mobile Phone (Onboard camera)

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    Shifting to Onboard Camera on N95
    Just about every year, I drop, lose, break, my camera. This time, I dropped my Canon IS700 in the streets of San Diego, and now it only takes blurry pics. No worries, I squeezed 10,000 (estimated) thousand photos out of that $300 camera, adding to my flickr account of over 22,000 photos. (Insert Asian joke here)

    I’ve shifted to using the on board 5 megapixel camera on my Nokia N95, and downloaded Shozu, which is a photo/video management tool that lets me seamlessly upload in real-time photos to flickr or any social website of my choosing. It’s a slower process than a point and shoot, but what I make up for convenience of having one device, and automatic upload are worth it.

    Convergence: Web, Camera, Video, and lastly, a phone
    In many ways, the cell phone is a media platform, I can publish live streaming video using Qik, blog from wordpress, Tweet to my network of 3800, or call (the feature I use the least) any blogger friends to get the word out about anything almost anywhere.

    Marketing happens everywhere, anytime
    How does this apply to Web Strategy? This is both a threat and an opportunity for brands. Uploading content in near real time (good or bad) is so simple and easy, there are no more secrets, they just haven’t been uploaded to the web yet. If I’m ever having a great (or bad) experience with a brand, I’m very likely to want to let my network know, they deserve to know.

    This impacts the media business: live concerts, sporting events, and other performances will be streamed live to the web, the only admission is internet access. I recently met with a client from Japan, they encourage customers and prospects to participate in mobile games real world games in their marketplace. Photo games, GPS treasure hunts, and self-expression are all encouraged.

    The following photos are all taken by my Nokia N95
    In any case, I’m still experimenting with the photo settings, this is a lone “photowalk”, but here’s a few sample photos from today, the subject: gorgeous San Diego, Catalina Island, and the USS Midway.

    They were uploaded in real time by Shozu, there was no photo editing.

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    A Spime

    View from Dave McClure's penthouse

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    Nick O'Neill

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    Staring down the nose of an F14
    Staring down the nose of an F14


    I’m going to experiment with live video streaming from the mobile phone soon, but I may need to but a spare battery, as I know it eats up power very quickly.

    If you’re an expert at taking photos with mobile phones, feel free to offer me any advice.

    Please note that as an Analyst, I have the opportunity to test, analyze, review products that are in my coverage area, as a result, this phone was provided to Forrester from Nokia.

    Innovation Watch: Fast Company Reports On Community Efforts

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    Edward Sussman, the President of Mansueto Digital and built the new FastCompany.com has responded to my analysis. He’s done a great job addressing the many points I made, and has responded both on my blog and on his site, where I cross posted.

    He’s shared some numbers of growth including activity: “We are approaching 1,000 reader posts a day about business topics raised by our journalists” and member involvement: “Members have set up more than 500 blogs about business.”

    I’m going to continue to watch Fast Company as a media company who is embracing the social computing aspect of the future and I encourage you to also watch.

    Thank you Ed for being so forthcoming, I will watch with great interest.

    Update: How timely, Jemina Kiss asks if UGC is viable for news sites.

    Video: Rebecca MacKinnon on Online Journalism

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    Hong Kong University professor Rebecca MacKinnon shares her insight on online journalism and recent censorship that MSN did for a blogger. She discusses her online debate with former Microsoft Evangelist Robert Scoble, you can read her analysis, his response, and her response.

    Rebecca is clearly knowledgeable about this topic area, but I ran out of memory, so the best way to learn more is to subscribe to her blog. Oh, and she certainly impressed me with her ability to handle very spicy food.

    Web Strategy Show: Josh Hallett on Citizen Journalism and Effective Blog Design

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    Here’s one of the last Web Strategy Show videos that will be published on this round (new readers: I interviewed the top web and marketing leaders in the industry at PodTech, see archives). Josh Hallett is known in the web marketing and social media fields, and is frequently seen at conferences speaking, sharing, or just taking pictures. Based out of Florida, he’s become a personal contact of mine, and he recently visited me at PodTech in Palo Alto.

    Josh shares with us at the WeMedia conference on the topic of Citizen Journalism, (1:10). He discusses how we both witnessed Shel Israel pissing off the traditional journalists in the room who are holding on to the old publishing model in a new world. The challenge of monetizing the social sphere continues to come up (although I’m very aware of how elite bloggers are cashing in). Find out about the tools used in Citizen Journalism. Josh has designed some of the top blogs out there, when he named off the list, it was many of the blogs that I’ve read. He’s sure right about mastheads for blogs need to clearly state what the blog is about, you only have a few seconds to impress upon visitors that they get the context.

    Speaking of blog design, this blog was heavily modified by me, I tweaked an existing template, created the banner, and shifted the style sheet. In the spirit of practicing what I preach I actually polled my community to give me feedback about this blog design.

    Facebook news page gives away son’s taboo party

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    (Update: The Photo and Video have been removed by request of the Father, who originally sent it to me)

    Just this morning I posted how kids don’t want to add their parents as friends in Facebook, and provided the handy crises management template. How timely.

    Here’s the story, my friend added his son in Facebook as a connection, today he saw his son left comments on a photo, and it showed up on the father’s newsfeed. He followed the link to the photos and found out his son had a party at his house (with under age drinking) with many kids, and there were pics to prove. His son had previously told his dad he didn’t have a party, but the Father suspected something was off, and Facebook helped clue it all in.

    Here’s the video interview, he chose to remain anonymous, I assure you this is no hoax, and if you know me or have been to some events, you’ll recognize the voice. (and maybe the shoes)

    (Update: Video removed by Father’s request: fear of legal action)

    While underage partying is nothing new (I was a kid too) the dynamics of social media are astounding. The father never would have known about the party if it wasn’t for Facebook.

    For some reason, I feel like tagging this post “citizen journalism”.