Tag Archives: journalism

Impact of Social Media on Journalism

Over twenty emails and several tweets- I was beginning to loose hope that any journalists were going to find time in their busy schedules to reply back to my enquires. My assigned research entailed contacting credible journalistic sources to feature in my article titled ‘Has Social Media Plagued Journalism For Good?’. So, you can imagine the excitement of seeing an email from the editor of Dorset Life magazine outlining his views on the topic:

Joel Lacey, of Dorset Life, explained how he thought social media has been “both a boon and a bane for professional journalists”. It is advantageous in terms of the helpfulness of user-generated content from Citizen Journalists. If there were, for example, a photograph or video footage of an event it is much easier to acquire than it may well have been. On YouTube there is a channel dedicated to this, ‘Citizen Tube’, there is raw footage of the Libyan crisis and Japanese earthquake. This makes journalists jobs slightly easier and also acts as a database for public use.

Videos uploaded by YOU

On the other hand, Lacey discusses how “much of what is being put out is essentially gossip: repeated or invented material”. This is noticeably a danger zone, as the huge source of information online means sifting through and deeming what is and what is not credible. Admittedly, Lacey says that he has used social media as a starting point to some of his articles for Dorset Life. However, he approaches these stories with caution and they still require sufficient research through conducting  interviews and involving other sources.

Still locating primary sources for my research, I contacted other local journalists, as it seemed this is where my research had led me so far. Stephen Bailey who writes for the Daily Echo had some useful insights to contribute with a focus on Twitter:

“I have found Twitter primarily useful for news planning” Bailey said and describes the time when he extracted a story from tweets about the 20th Armored Brigade going to Afghanistan. Agreeing with Lacey, he reinforces Twitter and other sites being useful for photojournalism. Aside from its conveniences and immediacy, Bailey appreciates letters as a form of communication as they are now becoming a rarity in the industry. Events like going to court, covering public meetings and meeting contacts are proactive ways that Bailey feels are the most enjoyable part of his job.

“I find the general belief that anyone can be a writer phenomenally dangerous” Lacey expresses his concerns of Citizen Journalism will make it harder for the professionals to earn a living. Though, I believe that print and broadcast journalism will co-exist with any online material that proceeds to invade the publishing world.

Stephen Jio from Dell has a discusses the effect of Citizen Journalism with students at City University:


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Social Media and Journalism: My journey

Social media seems to be an ever-growing force within journalism. Using Twitter to reinforce current news stories has been an interesting venture. The 140 character limit is like a challenge to produce the best headline, with articles you think will be of interest to the most people who follow you. Often, I would seek out strange and shocking stories, for example, ‘5 year-old dangerously imitates a superhero and SURVIVES’. Anecdotes which use shock-factor are ones that I think are most interesting and will gain more attention.

It works both ways, whilst I have grown to enjoy browsing through news to find something I want to tweet about; Twitter also provides countless avenues for journalism. Following news publications like BBCBreaking allows you to obtain the latest updates on a story you may be following. For example; the constant updates of the Libyan crisis kept the public informed. This is where social media is at its most useful.

Tweet tweet

This blog has been another way in which to expand my journalistic work. I have carried it on from my Web Communications unit last year, although I maintained it throughout the summer as I enjoyed blogging about my experiences and reviewing things. Before it was used for this unit, I mostly enjoyed reviewing music and films, preparing myself for my career choice in music journalism.

Blogs that I have completed for this unit have allowed me to express what I have learnt in my own writing style- which I take pleasure in. It almost acts to trigger the memory and is a portfolio of my work, which I am in fact quite proud of. I feel that blogging is your own personal touch on current affairs and aspects of journalism. However, be careful with what you type, remember media ethics apply in online communications- refer back to my post  Media Law: for you bloggers.

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Formulate a feature and engross your reader

Feature journalism can be treated like a genre of journalism. Although, there are types within this term such as those conducted in an interview style, profile, lifestyle, opinion columns and news features. It is defined by dictionary.com as “a newspaper or magazine article or report of a person,event, an aspect of a major event, or the like, often having a personal slant and written in an individual style”. It is also considered as the most prominent story in say, a magazine.

Upon first glance many writing enthusiasts would sigh and think of more rules, more guidelines and more boundaries to be drawn from their writing expectation. Except this is a mistaken view. There seems to be a craze forming and becoming a feature journalist is seemingly more desirable (Steenson, 2009). Truth is, feature writing does not have one clear-cut rule. Although, there are some generalities journalists prefer to use such as, the inverted pyramid which is closely followed for news stories. However, it is important to remember that feature articles differ from typical news stories. A feature attempts to add depth and colour to a subject, whereas news stories should be objective and informative. This does not mean that the writer hasn’t done as much homework as your average reporter. In fact, probably more, because a feature intends to grab the readers attention through using anecdotes and quotes.

What are you waiting for?

Patterson (1986, cited by, Garrison 2009) outlines three basic rules for feature writing; firstly have a character, secondly develop a narrative within the piece and allow the reader to visualise it for themselves. He claims that most features have these elements in common and emphasises the importance of the engagement factor- using an active voice. Bleyer (1913) agrees that feature writing should be like a miniature story and also believes there is no definitive guidelines for its treatment. I agree with this statement and feel that everybody has an individualistic writing style, if this is incorporated in the feature there is a more personal touch that readers can identify and relate to.

Of course, nowadays there are many more opportunities for feature writing in the online world. From the Guardian website to personal web blogs like this we are surrounded by such opportunities. So my take on all this feature business: get writing!! About anything and everything that you are passionate about, put it into words and captivate your readers.

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Media law: for you bloggers


Get to grips with the basics

Media law, also known as Entertainment law, is a subject that  every aspiring journalist should be clued-up about. Although, you may not realise journalists face some pretty heavy penalties for a slip on the keyboard. Media ethics deal with the likes of television broadcasting, film, music, publishing, advertising, internet and new media. I am particularly interested in rules I will have to abide by, in regards to blogging. Many bloggers are unaware that they need to comply with any kind of regulations, but we aren’t immune from the punishments of breaking media laws. Fact is, publishing a blog exposes the blogger to legal risk, as anyone can file a lawsuit regardless of merit.

  • Defamation is defined as a false remark or statement that adversely affects the character or reputation of another. Libel and Slander are the forms in which defamation can take place. Libel involve defamation through publishing. Whereas, Slander is spoken defamation of character. Reporters and bloggers cannot publish anything they want, rumour, inuendo and gossip should generally be avoided. The dangers of crossing the line could lead to injuring ones reputation and exposing them to disgrace, shame or hatred.
  • Contempt of court; the 1981 act ensures that journalists do not publish any details of an ongoing court case that may reflect any bias. The individual charged allows only have certain information publicised about them, in order to protect them until they have faced a fair trial.
  • Privacy and human rights goes hand-in-hand with contempt of court, in the sense that privacy must be respected. There may often be sensitive stories within the media, that members involved (for example, family or close friends) would not like to be in the media spotlight. Therefore, the privacy law protects the publics right to privacy. In regards to children under the age of 18, their details must be protected unless they have permission from a parent or guardian.
  • Intellectual property rights in accordance with journalism refer mostly to copyrighting. An article you may write can be replicated or an idea if copyright laws are not acquired. Freelance journalists often suffer, because they may pitch an idea to a magazine and incorporate it without your commission. Dan Roberts had this issue, however found out from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) governor James Thompson  that “It’s only when the work is in writing that copyright automatically protects it.” There are ways around it as Thompson recommends.

Do not, by any means be intimidated by these laws. Remember we live in the day of freedom of speech, so just skim over these as an act of caution and get blogging!

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WHY Journalism? Some might ask…

Journalism. Defined as; the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business (Dictionary.com, 2011). The aspect I am most interested in is writing, which is why I have opted for the News and Journalism unit in the final year of my studies at Bournemouth University. Journalism is a career path that I would like to explore once I have graduated, therefore I will find this unit extremely valuable to me in the future.


In this unit I will gain adequate knowledge of the industry. For example; objectivity is an extremely important factor in the world of journalism and could be the difference of the company and yourself bein sued. Gaining insight into working in the newsroom environment will be beneficial.

I have a passion for writing, which I have developed from a young age and have decided to continue into not just my degree but my career. Ideally, I would like to enter the music or film journalism, but I would also like to keep my options open to explore other avenues as well.

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