Last night, I found myself at a ‘Tweetup‘. I missed the informal part of the evening due to being dragged for a run around Mt Victoria, but the speaker was Greer McDonald, who writes the blog Lady in the Red for a local media website Stuff.co.nz. I also found out that she’s the go-to-guy for using social media within the traditional mainstream media model for Stuff.co.nz… Which sounds like a pretty cool job.
She ran through some basics of asking permission to use Tweets and photos posted on line, the fine line between being an ‘authoritative and trustworthy’ news source and being the first to publish something, and how mainstream and social media interact and will in the future.
And this is where she got me. Her belief is that mainstream media will ALWAYS have a place. And because the rest of her talk was based around how mainstream media is basically trying to catchup/copy social media, it seemed that the one reason why mainstream media will always be vital (according to her) is that they have a set of ethics that ensures they will publish the truth.
Which is sort of interesting.
I know enough people who have had things published about them in the mainstream media that are either blatantly wrong or sensationalized to be pretty confident that most people do NOT trust mainstream media’s ‘ethics’. I think mainstream media is misguided in their beliefs about their role solely because most people (especially in NZ) still don’t know how social media works, and until they do, will still resort to mainstream media to ‘confirm’ what they hear elsewhere.
Those that DO understand the new news environment, in my experience, bypass mainstream media.
It also struck me, that blogs that have evolved into news sources with readership larger than many mainstream media companies, have done so because they understood completely that to be an authoritative source, they need to be fair, and very much leave themselves open to public criticism (which to me seems far more strong a motivation to uphold ethics than signing a document)… In my view these blogs are becoming the mainstream media, they are already operating in the new world in ways that mainstream media is struggling to understand and move towards…. All that will happen is that traditional newspapers will move online, and take advantage of their brand and readership by mimicking what others have done from scratch, and start fighting on a larger, more complicated battlefield for readers.
But I suppose that’s a moot point really, because it looks like the future of news is a lot more exciting than it’s past. A lot more people will be involved in gathering the info, and with that grunt work out of the way, those who have opinions on the bare facts and are brilliant at sharing them will thrive and open debate will be lively.
So basically, I think I’ll give Twitter another go :)