Real-time media e il conflitto in Siria
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Real-time media e il conflitto in Siria

Live chat con Andy Carvin, senior social media strategist alla NPR e autore di Distant Witness, e Margarita Noriega, editor a Reuters responsabile del dipartimento di live news

  • Is Reddit / crowd sourcing information an interesting project? Yes, I think it has some value in terms of understanding what information is out there. Unfortunately, that does not tell you anything about the value of the information itself. There has to be a criteria used for verifying content, and I do not see most Reddit or crowd sourcing projects using criteria that meets editorial standards, most of the time.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:26:24 PM
  • With that said - with editorial direction - crowd sourcing can be phenomenally useful. I'd like to see a combination of both!
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:26:48 PM
  • I also don't see that many major news orgs saying it has to be an either/or - ie, rely on our own people or people online. There's good and bad to both, and every story is different. You use whatever method is best at getting at the heart of the story.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:28:37 PM
  • No one should accept a witch-hunt mentality or mob rule -- from the media or from anyone else.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:30:33 PM
  • On the theme of social and crowdsourcing, I'd like to talk about the platforms themselves.

    Andy, in your book you mention a deleted YouTube channel that was reinstated after you investigated its closure. At a Canadian Journalism Foundation panel discussion earlier this year, fellow panelist Mathew Ingram noted one of the weaknesses of social media like Twitter: It's a platform owned by a company, a private corporation. I’d like to talk about the fact that platforms aren’t impenetrable entities, and the content produced on them won’t necessarily last forever, and content can be deleted.

    Do either of you feel you’ve locked yourself into a platform? Which platforms do you trust, and why do you trust them?
    Allendria 12/10/2013 5:30:45 PM
  • I have thought a lot about the question of being loyal to platforms. I'm concerned because there is no reason a private / publicly-traded company should adhere to standards of sharing accurate information if it isn't in their financial interest to do so. I'm suspicious. I say, trust platforms when you trust the companies.

    I appreciate Twitter's approach to content: you own your tweets... and you are responsible for the content in them.

    I will add that platforms often change - always be on the lookout for new ones.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:34:42 PM
  • There are always tradeoffs when using a platform you can't fully control. For example, blip.tv is taking a lot of heat for unilaterally shutting down accounts of video bloggers that've used them for years b/c they're taking their business model in another direction. (full disclosure: that includes me). Right now I'm trying to piece back together nearly a decade of videos I posted there. Or take Topsy getting bought by Apple. They're no longer taking new customers, and they're a great tool for mining twitter data. So all it takes is a change in a business plan to cause certain content or tools to go away. You just never know.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:37:06 PM
  • So in short, "trust" is relative when you're dealing with any entity that's trying to run a business rather than be something like The Internet Archive.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:37:06 PM
  • @Andy Topsy is a great example. A part of me assumes that most small platform companies are looking for acquisition by larger platforms.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:38:18 PM
  • Well, I can't speak for any of them, but sure, there's a lot of volatility in the social space. Something here today may be gone tomorrow.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:39:10 PM
  • Great answers. 

    I have a couple of questions from readers, which I'm going to pull in simultaneously as they're related:  

    Great discussion guys! As journalists with a Middle East focus, does the ebb and flow of people's interest in the conflict frustrate you or is it an inevitable result of 'the news'? On that note, how do you maintain people's interest in a seemingly never-ending tragedy?Robinat 12:32 PM

    Do you ever find it hard to get readers interested in an international -- and ongoing -- conflict? How do you keep the momentum of interest?samiedurnfordat 12:16 PM

    Allendria 12/10/2013 5:40:58 PM
  • There's an ebb and flow in the news cycle based on a variety of factors; multiple big stories playing out at once; story fatigue; the high cost of covering an overseas story, etc. Do you remember what everyone was talking about the day before Michael Jackson died? The protests in Iran. Made it a lot harder to keep that story top of mind when people's attentions get pulled elsewhere.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:43:39 PM
  • The best you can do is keep telling compelling stories and not follow the media circus simply because it's pulling up the pegs to set up the tent somewhere else.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:44:43 PM
  • Robin and Samie point to the inevitable truth of human interest: it changes. I would say that people who feel they cannot change a situation, like Syria, may feel compelled to focus on other areas of news or interest to them. I think the question is not, how do we keep their attention? but rather, how do we solve the problem of an uncontrolled civil war that has killed too many and left many more abandoned? The news can only do so much. How do we, as people, stop violence?

    With that said, I think the best way to grab someone's attention about a tough topic is to be honest with them about what you're offering. Maybe a new angle -- a new story -- a new picture -- will be enough. But when it's not, I think it's important to engage the audience in a bigger dialogue about the topic itself.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:45:17 PM
  • Also, we have to remember we're not the only game in town now. People who care about the topic will also follow independent channels like Syria Deeply or Brown Moses. So the coverage never stops entirely.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:47:07 PM
  • If it's just about attention, I'm not sure that's enough to prevent the same tragic event from happening in the future. I tried to focus our live coverage on what we could expect in terms of a response from world powers. Lou Charbonneau and many others at Reuters helped me to keep readers updated on what the United Nations was considering as a response to the civil war.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:48:07 PM
  • @Andy absolutely. And they should! It's good to have a mix of coverage from reputable sources.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:48:43 PM
  • This takes me to another point I wanted to touch on – the value of real-time coverage.

    What good comes from publishing this content in real-time? What change – if any – can people abroad hope to make?
    Allendria 12/10/2013 5:49:03 PM
  • Real time works when you have great sources and content. Real time for the sake of sharing a fire-hose of information that's unverified and out of context to me is not valuable. It's just a waste of time, especially for media.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:51:20 PM
  • It's valuable to those of us trying to understand the changing dynamics on the ground. There's so much stuff happening in so many corners of the country. But what change can they hope to make? I think a lot of Syrians have become cynical enough that they don't expect anything to change, whether there's live coverage, later coverage, more coverage, no coverage. No matter what, the war and its toll continues.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:51:24 PM
  • Change the question around and ask, what's the value of live broadcast coverage? It depends. Sometimes it's really important for breaking news, sometimes it feels like they're just trying to avoid dead air.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:52:48 PM
  • I wish more news organizations would respect my time! I don't want to watch live coverage if it's not truly live.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:54:32 PM
  • That, and use the word "breaking" only when news is truly breaking. :-)
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:55:24 PM
  • Félim McMahon sent in a comment about Facebook pages: 

    In terms of platforms, I'm worried about the number of local coordinating committee and other media-activist Facebook pages that seem to be disappearing. Contemporaneous, time-stamped, local postings documenting the conflict form a vital function in corroborating and contextualising content. Many channels that have been posting since 2011 are now out of the public domain.felimmcmahonat 12:42 PM

    To relate this to our current discussion, how do we ensure that real-time coverage doesn't disappear? Indeed, live broadcasts can disappear just as easily – tapes can be erased – but if we have crowdsourced data, no one is necessarily held responsible for its maintenance but the crowd. 
    Allendria 12/10/2013 5:55:32 PM
  • I think it will keep disappearing until there is a way to collect the information outside of the platforms themselves. Platforms do not have much specific interest in being the owners of archives, and in fact that can be a legal liability for them. We need better ways to record online information. I know the Library of Congress and other international libraries are working on this project, as are many non-profit organizations who value access to information. I hope to see developments in this space. We have already lost so much history in the past 10 years thanks to broken links and lost websites.
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 5:57:53 PM
  • I don't think Felim's question is based on crowdsourcing running out of steam. I think it's about the many video channels that have shut down because the war has gone on so long and taken it's toll. Being a citizen journalist in Syria is one of the deadliest jobs in the world. People get killed, accounts get compromised. Fortunately new citizen journalists and media centers still come along, but it takes time to build any level of trust with them. So yeah, I'm worried too.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:58:01 PM
  • Great point, Andy.
    Allendria 12/10/2013 5:58:21 PM
  • Yeah, think of all the URL shorteners that don't work any more. Unless someone has saved that short-url metadata, it's tantamount to pulling the plug on a living artifact somewhere else on the Internet.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:59:13 PM
  • This has been a great conversation, Margarita and Andy, and I thank you for participating.
    Allendria 12/10/2013 5:59:53 PM
  • I've done some storifies recently of the anniversaries of the riots in Greece and the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Biggest problem I had was dead URL shorteners pointing to nowhere.
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 5:59:57 PM
  • Thanks for having me!
    Andy Carvin 12/10/2013 6:00:33 PM
  • Thank you for inviting me - I'm off to another live blog here!
    Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 12/10/2013 6:00:37 PM
  • Thanks Margarita, and good luck!
    Allendria 12/10/2013 6:01:05 PM
  • Any last words, Andy?
    Allendria 12/10/2013 6:01:13 PM
  • For those who haven't seen it, I'll again plug Reuters' liveblog covering of Syria. Margarita manages the event.
    Allendria 12/10/2013 6:02:37 PM
  • Again, a big thank you to our guests. It's been my pleasure to moderate. Scribble Chats run every Tuesday at lunchtime ET. See you again soon.
    Allendria 12/10/2013 6:05:54 PM
  • Here are a couple more last-minute comments from readers:

    Hire archivists! Or work with existing archives and libraries. Information professionals are eager to help and the question of how to preserve digital media, including social media, is one that those of us in the information professions are grappling with (and coming up with good solutions for) daily.rachel mattsonat 12:58 PM

    Sometimes the need to keep material up clashes with policy issues, especially in a conflict where hate speech and glorification of violence may take place. However, some platforms manage this better than others. I think it's critical for us to have full transparency on that score. This material should also be mirrored.felimmcmahonat 12:58 PM

    Allendria 12/10/2013 6:09:34 PM
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