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August 20 2012


Red & Black Lesson: Students Must Balance Business Needs at College Papers

There are no winners in the mess at the Red & Black. But there are lessons.

The Red & Black at the University of Georgia has long been regarded as one of America's finest college news operations. The students' journalism is consistently first class, and publisher Harry Montevideo has a track record as one of the sharpest business minds in the industry. (Disclosure: Montevideo has been a mentor of mine.)

But last week, a clumsy board memo became public, suggesting students focus more on "good" stories and granted more editorial control to professionals. Student editors resigned in protest. And Montevideo scuffled with a reporter at an open house. Montevideo has since issued a written apology for the scuffle and the board member who wrote the memo has resigned.


How could things go so wrong? And what can the rest of us who work in college newspapers learn from it?

On the face of it, the dispute rests on whether students or professionals "control" the editorial content. Certainly, student control is central to the mission of student media. But the reality of running an independent, self-supporting college newspaper in the digital age is more nuanced than just who controls content.

Boards, editors and publishers must figure out how to evolve from the 1990s model of a journalism lab funded by an advertising monopoly to a 2010s model of a media company fighting in a hyper-competitive market.

"Every paper in the country wrestles with that: How do we deliver what you need to know vs. what you want to know?" said Barry Hollander, a professor at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"If I knew the answer, I'd be a consultant ... I have no idea what the answer is, and I have my doubts about anyone who says they know what the answer is. We're all trying to feel our way along."

From lab to business

College newspaper boards and publishers must figure out the business model while still giving students the editorial freedom that they deserve and without compromising traditional journalistic values and ethics. In some ways, it's a more complicated balance than professional newsrooms where the publisher and owners get the final say on all business and editorial decisions.

In the 1990s model, college newspapers offered students and advertisers the only option for news and a local marketplace. That opened up a river of revenue that subsidized student-led newsrooms and provided nearly limitless journalistic freedom. I was a product of that system at the Oregon Daily Emerald at the University of Oregon in the late 1990s. It was the most fun I've had in journalism.

But I will be the first to admit, we occasionally produced some silly, unprofessional and self-absorbed journalism. In that model, it didn't matter. We practiced the skills we learned in class -- writing, sourcing and beats -- and didn't have to bother with advertisers, rates and readership.

But those days ended long before Myspace.

In the 2010s model, college newspapers offer one option among dozens. They compete against Facebook, Google and Twitter for students' time and advertisers' money. For many newspapers, readership and revenue are down 25 percent or more from the peak in the 1990s or 2000s.

Boards and publishers stare at those trendlines and seek solutions. But they also know they have no direct control over the most important piece of the operation: the content.

Different models at different schools

Each independent college newspaper confronts that challenge differently.

"It's the same as it has always been: education, training, persuading, suggesting. Some combination of all of those things," said Eric Jacobs, general manager for 31 years at The Daily Pennsylvanian.

At the Red & Black, the board believed the newspaper needed more professional oversight, especially online. "You've got to have people there to guide these things," Elliott Brack, the board's president, told the Student Press Law Center. "Each one of those takes its own professional."

But the students believed they were being forced into assignments that were more public relations than newsgathering, including "grip and grin" photos during sorority rush week, said Evan Stichler, the Red & Black's former chief photographer. "I think they were looking at it more from the marketing and advertising standpoint of getting viewers," he said.

At UCLA's Daily Bruin, director Arvli Ward is building a digital advertising network completely divorced from the newspaper. So far, his staff has built 60 mobile apps. His goal: to generate enough advertising revenue to subsidize the student newsroom.

"The monopoly that we owned was not on distributing dead tree products around campus, it was the advertising monopoly," Ward said. "That's what we have to regain. When we regain that, we can funnel money to our newsroom and let students do what they do. It's not going to be The New York Times, and sometimes it's going to be off color, but that's what makes a college newspaper interesting."

At the University of Oregon's Emerald, where I now work again, our student editors went on strike in 2009.

Students walked out after a consultant to the board drafted an organizational chart in which the publisher would oversee the student editor. I advocated for and later chaired an Editorial Independence Committee to protect the newsroom's editorial independence.

But my perspective evolved when I became publisher of the Emerald and was accountable for the company's financial performance. I still believe that students must retain editorial control. However, I also see the need to ensure student editors run the newsroom in a way that fits with the company's long-term business goals. It's a delicate balance that is now reviewed at least annually by an Editorial Advisory Committee led by a former Emerald editor in chief and editor at The Oregonian.

The sense of urgency is intense for independent college newspapers. Now, more than ever, college newspapers need tighter working relationships among news editors, business leaders and board members.

Or as Stichler, the former Red & Black photographer, put it: "Stick to your principles. Have some standards between board, editor and staff people ... You have to make sure everyone is in agreement."

Ryan Frank is president of the Emerald Media Group, formerly the Oregon Daily Emerald, the independent nonprofit media company at the University of Oregon. He blogs at thegarage.dailyemerald.com.

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April 20 2012


The courses a student wishes he had taken

As he prepares to graduate, University of Oregon public relations student Sam Drake reflects on the courses he did not take:

  • Computer science: “To be able to code in Java, HTML, C++ or Python is one skill that is going to be extremely important in the coming years.”
  • Marketing classes: “If I could have taken a few marketing classes then I would have a better grasp of how the business world works.”
  • Language classes: “The last language class that I took was a Spanish class during my sophomore year of high school. After that, I never really used my Spanish speaking ability and have since lost most of my ability to speak it.”
  • Grammar: “I had taken J101 which is the equivalent to beginning grammar at the U of O but I never really got much out of that class. After an internship … I have come to the conclusion that I really need to learn how to write with better grammar.”

Read his full post here.

A lot of students tell me after graduation that they wish they had taken this or that — usually some technology-oriented courses that were offered as electives in our journalism program.

And why didn’t they sign up and take those courses when they had the chance? Only they can answer that.

Sponsored post

The courses a student wishes he had taken

As he prepares to graduate, University of Oregon public relations student Sam Drake reflects on the courses he did not take:

  • Computer science: “To be able to code in Java, HTML, C++ or Python is one skill that is going to be extremely important in the coming years.”
  • Marketing classes: “If I could have taken a few marketing classes then I would have a better grasp of how the business world works.”
  • Language classes: “The last language class that I took was a Spanish class during my sophomore year of high school. After that, I never really used my Spanish speaking ability and have since lost most of my ability to speak it.”
  • Grammar: “I had taken J101 which is the equivalent to beginning grammar at the U of O but I never really got much out of that class. After an internship … I have come to the conclusion that I really need to learn how to write with better grammar.”

Read his full post here.

A lot of students tell me after graduation that they wish they had taken this or that — usually some technology-oriented courses that were offered as electives in our journalism program.

And why didn’t they sign up and take those courses when they had the chance? Only they can answer that.

March 28 2012


'Reckless Adrian Grenier': Will Personal Apps be Key to Celebrity Branding?

March marked the launch of "Reckless Adrian Grenier," an app built for the iPad, iPhone and iPod and created by Mobovivo for its namesake, actor and filmmaker Adrian Grenier.


Some of you are moaning, "why does he need an app?" but others of you are perhaps "Entourage" fans, and an opportunity to get reacquainted with Grenier, who played Vincent Chase, is an exciting prospect.

That latter group is just the one that app developers are looking to as they launch a new kind of application -- the personal brand app.

Trevor Doerksen, founder and CEO of Mobovivo, said he's pretty confident that this new kind of personality app "is the right next step for a film and television celebrity." 

It's clear as more and more celebrities flock to the app model, it will become harder to stand out from the crowd. Developers and creators of apps will have to push themselves to pinpoint what is unique about their celebrity, sports star, comedian, politician, etc., in order to translate "personalities" into "brands" and then into digital interactive experiences in fresh ways.

For Doerksen, that means getting beyond just "chat" as engagement:

"Adrian is an indie filmmaker, and as a former filmmaker myself, I recognized what he was trying to do to engage audiences and tell more stories. Twitter has already created a good app for celebrities to chat with fans, but we need to go deeper than chat. Don't get me wrong, the human desire for communication is fundamental and chat features prominently in our platform. However, we all seem to need to satisfy a fundamental sense of curiosity and play as well."

Grenier and Doerksen gave a special keynote address to close Digital Hollywood's Media Summit earlier this month in New York, and I had an opportunity to chat with both of them about the "whys" and 'hows" of planning "Reckless Adrian Grenier."

controlling your own brand


There is an endgame to the personal app for celebrities. It offers a chance for them to control their own destiny in a way rarely seen with the Hollywood PR machine. With a movie star's box-office draw becoming about as predictable as blindly tossing chewed gum at a wall and hoping it sticks, building an audience base with a personal app is the equivalent of a politician getting out there to shake hands and hold babies to build his constituency -- the good old-fashioned grassroots way, albeit with digital handshaking and autograph signing.

Today social media and second screen experiences focus on making celebrities more accessible to their fan base. Grenier is already active on Twitter, with almost 227,000 followers, and Facebook with almost 114,00 fans, but by creating a personal app, he's not just further brand building "Adrian Grenier" -- he's also cross-branding with Reckless Productions, his production company. He's bringing the HBO Entourage audience into his antonymous world. Despite Grenier's personal fame, Reckless Productions, best known so far for "Teenage Paparazzo," fits into most indie film models. Indie film companies need funding, and investors like metrics and analytics. A dedicated and active audience of "Reckless Adrian Grenier" users can be directly marketed to with push notifications and other directives, a comfort to today's film investors with marketing budgets ballooning out of control.

(The "Reckless Adrian Grenier" app is free to download, but there are charges for certain features and items for purchase. Currently, all proceeds will go to the SHFT, an eco-conscious multimedia platform co-founded by Grenier. Focused on design, SHFT won the Best Green Website at the Webby Awards last year.)


AdrianGrenierTrevor Doerksen_courtesy.jpg

MediaShift: What made you decide to create an app?

Adrian Grenier: I'm a modern guy and just like anyone else I'm looking to explore the possibilities of storytelling and connecting with my audience independently, not always having to rely on the bigger production companies and distributors to control everything I do. It is a real blessing in this day and age to have that opportunity and to be on the cutting edge of technology; we are explorers in a lot of ways. I've had several app ideas over the years and not all of them this good. This is the one that really made sense and ultimately Mobovivo was able to create it.

When did you first realize the value of connecting with your fans as an artist?

Grenier: I always realized the value, but maybe I was a little lazy at first because it is a lot of work, at least to make that engagement authentic and real and true. I don't have a company doing my social media for me. It's all genuine.

How does the Reckless app assist you in making a unique and genuine connection with your fans?

Grenier: If you use a website, you always end up having to go to another program to connect. If you want to reach out to your fans, you have to send them an email or create a video and send it to them, and maybe they will comment, but that's on YouTube. This is a really direct connection; this is the bridge directly from me and Reckless to people who want that content. And it's beyond that -- it's leveraging casual encounters that I have with people every day and allowing them to become a very personal interaction. For example, I'm on tour with my film "Teenage Paparazzo." It's an educational tour, and we are going to colleges around the country. Every time I want to share something with them, I have to say, "Send me an email, sign up or whatever," but in this case, they can download the app and boom, we're already off to the races. In 2.0, (he laughs) I'm already excited for 2.0 ...

Trevor Doerksen interrupts: The Apple Store hasn't even released 1.0 yet.

Grenier: We have big ambitions and big ideas, and that's what I'm really excited about. This is really just the first breath.

Your existing fans will be interested in the app, but how do you anticipate the Reckless app will create or build a new fan base?

Grenier: The medium and the format are really just the tool. It is about the personal voice of the artist that makes it unique. Twitter is only 140 characters, but it is the unique voice of the individual that allows people to differentiate themselves. I can see the Reckless app being more than just a platform for me. I can see other people using it to connect with their audience, their fans and their friends. I don't know how much we need to reinvent our wheel; we need to spread it and share it.

How is this "sharing" done on a technical level?

Doerksen: I think how you do this is you get the market. That is what is wonderful from a technology point of view -- that there are so many things given to us today, from cloud computing to Apple SDK to the App Store to these new devices. (He holds up an iPhone.) This is a neat canvas to take advantage of. One of the things that will be an input to what we do next will be what we hear from what we do first. So I think getting the market is key to finding out what people like and what they would like to see in the future. That is going to happen with an app more than perhaps with another platform -- it's what's in your pocket.

We have a brand like "Reckless," a user experience where it is in your pocket, under your arm, on your desktop. To find a bookmark, you don't have to go searching; it is a click away. That engagement as we move forward is going to happen on television, maybe even on toasters. For now, we are excited to get feedback on 1.0.

I only saw the trailer for "Teenage Paparazzo" on the iPad version of the app. What other video content will be available for users?

Grenier: We have a lot of video content coming, but we feel like it's best to get out into the water and get our feet wet instead of waiting. It reminds me of surfing. I'm not a surfer, but I've been a couple times. You put the surfboard on the sand, and you practice jumping up. That's easy; anyone can do that. But you put it in the ocean and the waves are coming, and it's a whole other ball game. We wanted to get out there and get our sea legs.

Doerksen: You're like I am on these things, as are a lot of other people. It's an app put out by a film production company and people will ask, "Where's the film?" That's coming, too. Engaging content and entertainment is coming and, of course, more social.

How often can users expect new content to be added?

Grenier: Definitely every time we do an event at a school we will update the snapshots of the students. We have a ton of content -- especially with short form, the turnaround is much quicker. We are always creating short videos.

I see that as the most fascinating part of an app. It's almost a living, breathing entity. It isn't a film, which is finite. It grows and changes. How did you know the app was ready for release?

Grenier: That is something Trevor has been shepherding me through because I am a perfectionist but he's like, "Just relax." There's a learning process in release as well, in letting go.

Doerksen: One of the nice things is not just being about content, which is kinda a broadcast medium. We had to make it engaging. That's what we talk about constantly. If we had 85 films to put in the app -- what would the app be about? You'd be watching 85 films eventually? We've created a true fan engagement set of tools; that part is exciting -- and marrying the viewing experience to that, whether it's in front of the television as a second screen model or in a theater or with Adrian at the airport. Now that I have the app, I see the Twitter scroll and I know where you are all the time. (He points to Grenier.)


It will be interesting in the coming months and years to see how app creators push personal apps to new frontiers, finding out what celebrities, not only from the entertainment industry, but sports and beyond, can do with the new tools to harness and connect with their audiences. Let the branding race begin.

Amanda Lin Costa is a writer and producer in the film and television industry. She writes a series called "Truth in Documentary Filmmaking" and is currently producing the documentary, "The Art of Memories."

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January 06 2012


Mediatwits #32: Yahoo's Mr. Wrong?; Steve Rubel's Clip Book; Fake @Wendi_Deng

steve rubel headshot small.jpg

Welcome to the 32nd episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali. We're back from our holiday break and ready to tackle more media news. The big news of the new year is a new CEO (again) at Yahoo, this time PayPal president Scott Thompson will try his hand at turning around the Net pioneer. But most pundits say the odds are long on Thompson being successful because he has little discernible experience running a media or advertising company.

Our special guest this week is Edelman PR exec/pundit Steve Rubel, who is working on a new e-book via Tumblr called "The Clip Book," where he will give visual takes on the future of media in scrapbook-style. And finally, we turn to one new prominent Twitter user, @rupertmurdoch, and what appeared to be a new verified account for his wife, @wendi_deng, that ended up being a fake. What does that mean for the credibility of the Twitter platform and its lack of transparency in verifying accounts?

Check it out!

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:


1:00: Mark's visit to Disneyland and the MouseWait app

2:10: Rafat is all work and no play over holidays

3:05: Rundown of topics on the show

Yahoo's new CEO

4:00: Yahoo hires Scott Thompson from PayPal; is he the right guy?

6:10: Could Thompson secretly be a media genius?

7:50: Rafat: Why should we care about Yahoo?

Steve Rubel's Clip Book

10:10: Special guest Steve Rubel

12:45: Rubel: I share some intelligence publicly and some internally at Edelman

15:50: Rubel will look at 5 companies that control content online

18:20: People are relying more on visual information, infographics

20:50: Rubel: Two tiers of content: quick-bite snacks and in-depth long-form

25:45: Richard Sambrook's role at Edelman PR teaching companies to run newsrooms

Fake @Wendi_Deng

28:15: Rupert Murdoch joins Twitter, but his wife's verified account was fake

29:10: Does this hurt Twitter's credibility?

30:10: Twitter has a bad track record on being transparent

More Reading

Yahoo Stakes Future on Accountant-Engineer Who Is Unproven in Media at Bloomberg

New Yahoo CEO (And BoSox Fanboy) Scott Thompson Speaks: It's Still Early Innings at AllThingsD

Yahoo Finds New CEO at PayPal at Wall Street Journal

The Key to Yahoo's Long-Term Health? Data, Says New CEO at AdAge

Steve Rubel's Clip Report

Trash your old media eulogies, The Clip Report details its future at the Next Web

Why Twitter's verified account failure matters at GigaOm

The Case of the Unfortunate Underscore: How Twitter Verified the Fake Wendi Over the Real Wendi at AllThingsD

How did fake Wendi Deng slip through the Twitter net? at the Guardian

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about how Scott Thompson will do as Yahoo CEO:

How will Scott Thompson fare as CEO of Yahoo?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

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May 24 2011


Follow, Follow, Tweet Tweet (realities of microblogging)

Microblogs like Twitter are a great vehicle to help organize political demonstrations in countries run by corrupt governments (and an effective way to spread misinformation), but how can nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), libraries, government programs, and other mission-based organizations really use microblogs to promote their work, increase attendance at an event, get donations or mobilize or support volunteers?

I've updated my resource on Microblogs and Nonprofits yet again, this time adding much more information about live microblog/live tweet events. This is a primer based in reality - you won't find a panting endorsement about how you will raise millions of dollars via Twitter or Facebook or any other technology-tool. Rather, this resource is, I hope, a no-nonsense, anti-fluff, anti-hype, practical list to help nonprofits, NGOs and other community-focused initiatives explore microblogging and use it effectively with volunteers, event attendees and others they are trying to reach and engage.

Being able to work online is now an essential and much-sought-after skill in the work place, no matter what your job at a nonprofit, NGO, government agency, etc. This isn't the domain of just your marketing department anymore: program staff, those that work with volunteers, and anyone that works with the public or with clients at a mission-based organization has a role in using online tools on behalf of mission-based organizations. This updated resource is just one of many pages on my site meant to help those at mission-based organizations who want to enhance their online skills quickly.

Remember: content is still king. Be thoughtful and be strategic about whatever communication tool you use, even the flavor of the month.

March 09 2011


Churnalism.com Reveals Press Release Copy in News Stories

Editors' Note: Martin Moore is the director of the Media Standards Trust, which recently launched Churnalism.com -- a website that helps the public distinguish journalism from "churnalism," a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added.

Two weeks in, and the public response to Churnalism.com has been fantastic.

churnalism logo.jpg

Since we launched the site on February 23, we have had 50,000 unique visitors, over 330,000 page impressions, and hundreds of press releases pasted in and saved. According to Google Analytics the site has been visited by people in 134 countries.

People have tracked down churnalism about eye-catching new products (such as "Baby Gaga," ice cream made with breast milk), about new research findings from universities (for example, on the "protective properties of green tea"), about new police initiatives (e.g., the recruitment of teenagers by police to prevent cyber-bullying), about the "happiest time of the week" (7:26 pm on a Saturday, says a poll sponsored by a multivitamin company), and about the prose of Jane Austen (which might not be all hers after all, according to an Oxford study). People have pointed us to stores of press releases like www.eurekalert.org and www.alphagalileo.org so we can build up a bigger bank of comparisons. And there have been discussions about what might constitute "signals of churnalism."

As importantly for us, the site has sparked lots of debate about churnalism. Here are some of the top questions that have come up:

Do the public care if journalists are churning out press releases?

Some felt the site's exposure of churnalism would not much bother the public.

Mark Stringer of Pretty Green told PR week he was "not sure why anyone would want to go to the time and effort of producing a website to prove something that no one really cares about."

Others thought the opposite was true.

"If you tell someone who is a punter rather than a journo that it's pretty standard practice to ctrl+C and ctrl+V huge chunks of a press release into a story," Steven Baxter wrote in his New Statesman blog, you'll get a revealing reaction. "I call it the 'Really?' face. People look at you as if to say 'Really? Is that what you do?'"

Our own experience to date appears to support Baxter's view rather than Stringer's.

Does the re-use of wire copy count as 'churnalism'?

There has been a fascinating discussion about the re-use of wire copy, especially when it is re-used almost verbatim, often with a byline from the news outlet added.

People have pointed out that news outlets subscribe to wire services to broaden their access to news, so why shouldn't they publish it?

Others have countered that using wire copy is not the problem, but passing it off as your own is.

"If you have to churn,"Minority Thought blogged, "at least be honest about it."

How can news organizations make their use of press releases more transparent?

On Memeburn, Tom Foremski wrote about a suggestion he made a few years back to color-code text that came from a press release. For example, distinguishing text "copied from a release or outside source (red)" from original text in black -- and potentially other colors to represent separate conflicts of interest. Others suggested just noting or linking to the release.

Professor George Brock, head of journalism at City University London, worried that rather than push journalists towards footnoting sources, Churnalism.com might discourage them.

Will Churnalism.com help reduce the production line approach to press releases?

A prominent communications professional, Mark Borkowski, welcomed the site, hoping it might help kill off the mass production of poor press releases.

So many are now produced, Borkowski wrote, that "the level of noise makes it hard for the true craft of the publicist to flourish."

Is all churnalism bad?

Alan Twigg of Seventy Seven PR told PR Week that "this site is making it sound like [public relations officers] getting coverage is a doddle and that PROs are taking over the media. If only it was that easy." Sounding a similar note, Stuart Skinner of PHA Media took to PR's defense on the same website, saying that "news is not a product of collusion between shady PROs and lazy journalists."

It is worth noting that the site does not say churnalism is easy, nor indeed that the reproduction of parts of press releases is necessarily unsavory.

"Of course not all churnalism is bad," the site's FAQ section says. "Some press releases are clearly in the public interest (medical breakthroughs, government announcements, school closures and so on). But even in these cases, it is better that people should know what press release the article is based on than for the source of the article to remain hidden."

Richard Sambrook also made an important point in his blog, that "there is of course Good PR and Bad PR just as there is Good Journalism and Bad Journalism."

Does Churnalism.com illustrate the self-correcting power of the web?

In the Guardian's online comment section Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, suggested that plagipedia and Churnalism.com "show us that the Internet is perfectly capable of correcting its own follies."

What's an equivalent word for "churnalism" in Spanish?

Great question. 1001Medios began a Twitter-hunt for a word in Spanish that captured the idea of "churnalism." Sadly, my Spanish is not good enough to work out if they've found one yet.

Building Buzz Without Legacy Media

The tremendous public response and debate almost certainly would not have happened without social media, blogs, and Chris Atkins. Chris' news stunts -- particularly about the chastity garter, the penazzle and Larry (or Jo) the cat -- captured public attention at the same time as making a serious point about how churn makes it into the mainstream media. (You can see Chris' film describing the stunts on the Guardian website, and his blog about it here.)

They also helped kick-start discussion about churnalism on social media, notably Twitter and Facebook. Thousands of people have tweeted about the "churnalism" problem, about Churnalism.com as a way to address the problem, about evidence of churn they have found, and yes, about Larry the Cat and the penazzle. It has been humbling and somewhat overwhelming to observe the level of public response and engagement.

Indeed, without social media and blogs there is every chance the site might have gone virtually unnoticed. The Guardian, which published the original "reveal" article about the news stunts, is still the only UK national newspaper site to have mentioned Churnalism.com.

Major news outlets that were fooled by Chris' PR stunts have yet to acknowledge their mistakes -- much less the website the hoaxes were intended to publicize. The BBC's Radio 5 Live is -- as far as we know -- yet to tell its listeners that the "Jo the Cat" story, which they discussed at length on their lunchtime program, was a fabrication. The Daily Mail does not appear to have informed its readers that Margaret Sutcliffe is not pursuing her custody claim about the Prime Minister's cat.

Contrast this with BBC Norfolk which immediately put its hands up and then used the hoax as a good way to start a discussion about churnalism.

Industry and International Attention

The public relations industry in the U.K. has been more direct in its response than the mainstream press. "PR Industry hits out at churnalism site" said an article on PRWeek.co.uk.

Various figures from the industry voiced their concern about the impact the site might have on the reputation of PR. Though in a measured and sensible leader, the editor Danny Rogers suggested churnalism was a genuine threat to both journalism and PR: "If organizations are churning out rubbish, and so-called journalists are mere accomplices in this process, we will all be taking part in a depressing downward spiral."

One of the really encouraging things about the response to the site in its first two weeks has been the international reaction. In addition to many kind words of encouragement, we have had expressions of interest from people to extend the site to the U.S., Germany, Finland, Spain, and Australia. We've spoken to NPR radio in New York, to CBC radio in Canada, BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Wales and to community radio in Essex. We've been contacted by news organizations in Germany, Belgium, Australia, the U.S. and Russia.

What's Next for Churnalism.com?

Some of this interest is not in the site itself but in the technology that underlies it. The methodology we developed can be applied to many other uses beyond churnalism. It could be used, for example, to trace changes in the progress of legislation. It could be used to measure the re-use of Wikipedia. It could be applied to plagiarism in other parts of the web.

We're still pedaling furiously to respond to many of the questions people have raised and issues identified. We are, for example, about to introduce a page that allows people to explore the use of press releases by news outlet or sector (i.e. government, science). We are now highlighting, on the home page, what comparisons people are sharing (since people seem to prefer to share than to rate). We are adding a report button so people can tell us when something definitely is not churn.

Finally, we will start to link the site more directly with the other Media Standards Trust transparency projects -- notably journalisted.com and hNews. This should help us to create a whole toolbox of transparency and accountability mechanisms for online news and create an ecology that will foster and advantage original journalism.

March 08 2011


Why Are Hispanics Missing in Leadership at Media Companies?


Business content on MediaShift is sponsored by the weekend MA in Public Communication at American University. Designed for working professionals, the program is suited to career changers and public relations or social marketing professionals seeking career advancement. Learn more here.

Fifty million people. One trillion dollars in buying power. Ad spending up 164% since 2001 to $3.88 billion. Hundreds of Spanish-language TV stations across the U.S.

Those eye-catching numbers represent the immense, and largely untapped, scale and wealth of the Hispanic-American media market. Put into greater perspective, if Hispanic-Americans comprised their own country, it would be the fifth-largest, by population, in the European Union. And this demographic is growing -- rapidly.

Despite these figures, one component is still missing in the media industry's quest for greater diversity: Hispanic leadership in the executive suite at media companies.

As a Hispanic-American executive, who also happens to be female, I have seen first-hand the immense growth and impact diversity is having on the American economy and culture. Media executives, marketers, communicators, lawmakers and all of America are hurtling into an era where the business and marketing of diversity -- particularly the Hispanic-American market -- will be at the forefront of the American conscience.

Where Are The Hispanic Execs?

And yet a wide divide still exists between this reality and the promise for greater diversity in the ranks of media, PR, and ad agencies' senior management.

"The future of our nation depends on what happens in [the Hispanic-American] population, a segment of Americans that have not always gotten the opportunities," they deserve, said Manny Ruiz, founder of Hispanic PR Wire and Hispanicize.com, in a recent PRNewser interview.

This lack of opportunity has led to Hispanic-Americans being underrepresented in corporate boardrooms. According to the 2009 Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility Corporate Inclusion Index survey, only 4.8 percent of all Fortune 100 executive- and director-level positions are held by Hispanics. Similarly, Hispanics account for only 6 percent of representatives on Fortune 100 boards.

luis morales.jpg

It took my own professional organization, the Public Relations Society of America, 48 years before Luis Morales became its first Hispanic president in 1996. Fifteen years later, I'm the first Latina to serve as chair and CEO.

My question is: Why was there a gap in years for the PRSA to select another Hispanic leader? I also wonder, why aren't there more Hispanic-Americans, whom I know are succeeding in the business world, stepping forward to executive and board positions across the media and PR industries?

More Questions Than Answers

Is it an issue of being the "token"? Nearly 20 years ago, I remember looking around the boardroom and finding that, not only was I the only woman in the room, I also looked different from everyone else. Feeling like "the only one" didn't stop me from finding common ground with my colleagues, and it shouldn't be an impediment for greater diversity within media's C-suite.

Is it an issue of language? Many times, people assume that all Hispanic-Americans speak Spanish and prefer Spanish. That is as much a myth as is Spanish fluency for those who do speak Spanish. There are Hispanics, like me, who are just as comfortable communicating in Spanish or English because of our bi-lingual fluency. But, there are just as many who are only truly comfortable in one language -- English.

Is it cultural? Business development and growth is part of the Hispanic-American spirit. Our culture thrives on entrepreneurship. Hispanics aren't fond of sticking to the "way things have always been." We're living proof that change is the only constant; thus we prefer acculturation instead of assimilation.

Slow Progress

I'll admit, the level of diversity within public relations has progressed significantly in recent years. For example, 14 percent of PRSA members are self-described "diverse;" that's an increase from 7 percent in 2005.

But we still have quite a ways to go in order to meet the global business community's diverse communications and marketing challenges.

Playing a leading role in conversation development across societal, economic and ethnic variances has always been one of PR's strongest areas of focus. A key factor in continuing a surge in value will be the industry's ability to generate two-way, conversation-themed strategies. And this can only come from the inclusion of non-traditional hires, such as bloggers, social-media influencers and analysts that come from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Diversity is Worth Trillions

It's quite simple, really: Diversity within PR will be crucial to agencies' success in years to come, as businesses continue seeking a more global perspective to their communications.

That means it is the responsibility of the PR industry -- along with the media companies that use our services -- to place an immediate focus on the business value of diversity and a diverse boardroom. Businesses must be prepared to tap into burgeoning and increasingly diverse markets for new revenue and growth. And having a more diverse executive suite, which reflects the modern ethnic makeup of the U.S., will better prepare the media industry to reap the immense financial rewards of a modern and very diverse America.

In today's stagnant economy, can any media company -- and the PR and marketing firms working within that sector -- afford to go without the diverse leadership that could help it tap into a $1 trillion market? Not likely.

(A tip of the hat to Julian McBride, whose excellent MediaShift post on fixing the tech PR industry's diversity issues inspired this post.)

Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, is chair and chief executive officer of the PRSA. She is also director of the Global Strategic Communications master's program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Florida International University in Miami. With more than 20 years of experience, Fiske began her career as a journalist, and then moved to marketing and corporate communications. She has held senior communications counsel, marketing and management positions in agency and corporate settings.


Business content on MediaShift is sponsored by the weekend MA in Public Communication at American University. Designed for working professionals, the program is suited to career changers and public relations or social marketing professionals seeking career advancement. Learn more here.

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February 23 2011


How to Fix the Tech PR Industry's Diversity Deficit

PBS.org has recently been home to some frank and thoughtful discussions about an overlooked issue: the lack of racial diversity in the media.

For those who may have missed it, the dialogue was sparked by Retha Hill in an Idea Lab post about the lack of minorities at new media conferences. Mark Glaser expanded the conversation from the comments section to a wider audience on Twitter with a MediaShift #mediadiversity chat. And Hill has followed up with a post on the need for media innovation in minority communities.

All this got me thinking about my particular media niche: technology public relations. What's so special about tech PR? Well, for those loosely familiar with the PR sector, imagine it as music. Entertainment, fashion, beauty and sports PR are akin to pop music.

Tech PR is more like opera. It requires a slightly different set of skills and media approaches. How many people of color in opera can music-lovers name? Aside from the great Kathleen Battle, not many come to mind. Unfortunately, this dilemma also rings true for tech PR. Persons of color are an untapped market that many PR agencies have not yet explored. Looking back at my six years in PR, I can count the number of brown colleagues I've worked with on less than two hands.

Why are minorities -- especially those of black and Latino descent -- largely missing from the tech media landscape? Inspired by this new-found dialogue on diversity in media, I want to talk about my career as a publicist representing and working with digital media and technology companies and offer some suggestions for remedying the tech PR industry's diversity deficit.

How I got here

When I was about 12 years old, I accompanied my father, who is a professor, to a wrap party for a film project where he served as an academic advisor. At the celebration, I remember one of the producers telling me that I'd be "good at PR" when I grew up. Back then, I didn't know what the producer meant. But that seed of advice remained in the back of my mind as I graduated from Rutgers College (part of Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey), studied and lived abroad in Europe and Brazil, and completed a master's program in marketing from the Bristol Business School in Bristol, England.

ana cano nennig.jpg

Upon finishing my master's program, I gravitated back to where my friends and family are from -- New York City, the so-called Silicon Alley of innovation -- and sought to finally discover what this PR thing was all about. Within a few months of my arrival, I landed an entry-level position within the technology practice of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. It was there that I met my mentor, Ana Cano Nennig, a female of Mexican-American descent. With her encouragement and guidance, I have navigated my way through the close-knit and competitive world of tech PR, representing some of the most innovative and respected companies -- from startups to established brands -- that are advancing the tech and digital media industries.

As Nennig evidences, I'm not the only person of color to succeed in PR. Minorities, especially African-Americans, have done well in sub-sectors of PR such as entertainment and sports where persons of color have played starring roles. This history stretches as far back as 1957, when the United Artists movie studio A.S. "Doc" Young to publicize an interracial love story, "Kings Go Forth."

New opportunities for Tech PR

When it comes to persons of color in technology and digital media PR, history may still be in the making. And, considering that minorities have led the way for technology adoption and innovation, I think a larger role for minorities is manifest destiny.

Take social networks and mobile technology, for example. New media and technology are widely embraced and used by minorities. According to a Pew Internet report [PDF file], 18 percent of Latinos and 13 percent of black adults who are online use Twitter; that's significantly greater than the five percent of white Internet users who tweet. Blacks and English-speaking Latinos were found to be more likely to use the various smartphone features such as web surfing and mobile shopping, according to Pew.

Given this history of early technology adoption and today's rising dialogue about minorities working in media and technology, I'm excited about what's in store. Smart business strategists hoping to increase their multicultural market share would do well to get on board.

How to promote diversity

In addition to continuing the dialogue of #mediadiversity, I want to include a few constructive ways to address the shortage of minorities within tech PR.

  • Weave diversity into everything you do. This is particularly crucial for PR agencies. One way to do that is by actively recruiting qualified minority talent, leaders, and mentors.
  • Create programs to help tell and preserve minorities' history in communications, as well as revitalize the role minorities play in the broader field of marketing communications. PR agencies can create an award or scholarship program to achieve this.
  • Educate minority youth on the opportunities in tech PR by partnering with minority communications professionals, entrepreneurs, journalists, and related organizations.

The reason I enjoy what I do is because of what technology and media represent: advancement and innovation.

In order for the industry to live up to the ideals it represents, diversity needs to be realized not just at the consumer level but at the corporate level as well. More personal dialogue should be encouraged regarding what it's like to be a minority in this industry.

But more importantly, action is required by the leaders driving the PR industry. PR agencies that serve technology and digital media companies should encourage diversity in both personnel team-building and marketing initiatives for clients.

Such steps will help to create stronger and more creative technologies and media that are reflective of our nation's and world's undeniable diversity.

Julian is an account supervisor at the Horn Group, where he has worked since November 2009 to executing PR strategy and manage media and analyst relations for marquee clients. Julian has regularly secured national feature placements for clients in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Adweek, GigaOm and Computerworld, among many other mainstream business, advertising, and technology publications. He is a martial artist and comes from a family of writers, including his father Dr. David McBride, a widely-known educator and researcher at Penn State University and his uncle James McBride, who chronicled their family in the New York Times and the international best-selling memoir "The Color of Water."

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July 20 2010


PRs reluctant to turn to Twitter will ‘die out through natural seclection’

Computer Weekly’s Mark Kobayashi-Hillary looks at the use of Twitter by trade journalists and trade PRs – or, more specifically, some trade PRs’ reluctance to take advantage of the communication tool.
If your focus is on a list of topics, and the writers at a group of specific titles, then what could possibly work better than having a window on what they are saying about their stories?
This works both ways – how many trade hacks really pay attention to the sea of press releases anymore when they can talk directly to the people they are writing about?
Some PR agencies have realised this. There are many now with strong digital and social expertise, but there are so many that are just riding on an existing contract. They will ultimately die out through natural selection

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July 13 2010


What Working for Wikipedia Taught Me About Collaboration

A little over three years ago, I started working as the communications manager for Wikipedia. I had just moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., and was ecstatic to hear that this quirky website, which had begun to pop up in many of my web searches, was based there. Having grown up in New York, my culture radar detected that this was a one-of-a-kind project that attracted eccentric individuals. Needless to say, my radar never fails me.

At that time, Wikipedia's internal structure did not match the widespread success and attention it was beginning to enjoy. I found myself working in a thrifty "rent-by-the-month" office building with three other employees: An administrative assistant, a fundraiser/hardcore Wikipedian, and a CFO. I was told that most tasks, including the communication projects, were carried out by a large network of international volunteers.

I immediately began to review the public relations materials available to me, and almost immediately went into panic mode. There was no polished press kit, press list or, dare I say, communication strategy. In fact, the majority of individuals on the communications committee had little to no public relations training, and were more intellectual and techie than the average PR practitioner at that time.

Crisis Mode

A few weeks into the job, with little training and a very primitive understanding of the wiki ethos, I encountered my first PR crisis. A hardcore and well known Wikipedian, Essjay, had lied to the New Yorker about his credentials. Not surprisingly, the years of crisis communication training I received was useless in the context I found myself in. For a brief moment, I honestly thought that my career as a PR specialist had come to an end. The New Yorker, in my mind, was the bible of the media world; there was no way that our online encyclopedia was going to survive the PR damage.

In the midst of my concerns, I soon became a believer in the power of collaboration. That crisis was the moment when the new media landscape unfolded before my eyes.


The volunteers took charge. They created a Wikipedia entry that documented the event in gruesome detail. It was honest, direct and, amazingly, had no PR spin. In fact, for most Wikipedia members, the biggest concern was that Essjay had used his false credentials in content disputes. It was apparent to me that there was never any malice or hidden agenda. Essjay himself had revealed his real credentials on his user profile when he was hired by Wikia, a company owned by Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales. In fact, in the months that followed, I found the community became self-correcting by encouraging the use of real names and identities. It found a way to help prevent this type of issue from happening again.

At the time, some critics argued that the incident ruined Wikipedia's reputation. Of course, this was the farthest thing from the truth. Since then, the site has grown both in content and in language versions. (My husband is a philosophy professor, which means I regularly meet academics who are quick to point out how "surprisingly accurate" the site is, and how fascinated they are with how it has impacted how our society views information.)

Learning From Collaboration

As someone who identifies herself as a bicultural New Yorker who specialized in cross-cultural communication in college, I was not a stranger to collaboration. In fact, that was my biggest criticism of American culture -- we were too individualistic and not group focused enough. But nothing prepared me for the wiki world. I learned some valuable lessons about collaboration and how to make it work. Below are some of the key learnings.

  • Trust the Crowd; Its Smarter than You -- The sooner you trust the group and empower it, the sooner it can produce high quality results. The group can make up for any weaknesses you may have as an individual. The idea is to bring out the strongest skills and downplay the weakest in each person.
  • Diversity and Creativity Are Intrinsically Connected -- Creative brainstorming is significantly improved by diversity. Individuals not only challenge each others' ideas, but they also inspire each other as well.
  • Collaboration is Messy -- When Jimmy Wales said "[Wikipedia is] like a sausage: you might like the taste of it, but you don't necessarily want to see how it's made," he wasn't kidding. Chaos, in many ways, seems to be the spark of great collaborative endeavors.
  • Be Open to Receiving and Giving Criticism -- When working collaboratively, it is important to let go of your ego. Learn to not take things personally and be honest about what you think without being disrespectful.

Wikipedia still receives a lot of flack -- it's an easy target for institutions and individuals who are desperately trying to survive in a digital world. However, I feel grateful for having worked for a short time with the "free culture" trailblazers behind the project who are responsible for making the world a bit more open, democratic, smarter, and much more collaborative.

Sandra Ordonez calls herself a web astronaut who has been helping organizations navigate the internet since 1997. Currently, she helps run OurBlook.com, a collaborative online forum that gathers interviews from today's top leaders in the hopes of finding tomorrow's solutions. Since December 2008, the site has been conducting a Future of Journalism interview series. Sandra also heads up the Facebook page, "Bicultural and Multicultural People Rule." Previously, she was the Communications Manager for Wikipedia. She graduated from American University with a double degree in International Relations and Public Relations.

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July 12 2010


5 Digital PR Lessons from BP's Oil Spill Response

Just like late night talk show hosts who salivate over a fresh political sex scandal, professional communicators can't stop analyzing and talking about BP's public relations work during the current Gulf Coast oil spill disaster. More to the point, they can't shut up about BP's inability to relate to the public, and its poor use of digital and social tools available.

It seems a communications or social media conference now isn't complete without obligatory mentions of the "BP PR Disaster," complete with sly references to verbal gaffes by BP CEO Tony Hayward. The still-unfolding environmental disaster has already been fodder for reams of blog posts, articles and dissections.

Everything BP has done over the past two months has been picked apart and critiqued. From the retaining of outside PR firms, to the company's (lack of) use of social channels and the hiring of a Bush-Cheney-era communicator, BP has done little to impress the critics.

The move to hire Anne Womack-Kolton, a former aide to Dick Cheney, caused an Economist blogger to nearly blow a gasket:

The first law of disaster-management in the United States is that you appoint somebody from the "in" party rather than the "out" party. The second law is that you avoid anybody with connections to George Bush and Dick Cheney.

BPFakeTwitter.jpgTo top it off, some of the most effective critiques of the company and its clean-up are coming in 140 character bursts from the unknown acerbic voice behind the satirical Twitter account, @BPGlobalPR. The caustic and laugh-out-loud funny nature of the tweets sets off a chain of retweets, creating online waves that reach much farther and faster than the spread of the oil (or BP's message for that matter).

The general consensus in the public relations industry is that BP ran its crisis communications in the same ham-fisted manner they've run the clean-up operation in the Gulf. But are pundits being too hard on BP? And what can we learn about conducting PR in the digital age from this example? Below are my five suggested lessons, and a list of links to 15 must-read articles about BP's response to the crisis.

Five Big Lessons

It's become all too easy to knock around the communicators at BP. The harsh reality is most major corporations and organizations would have reacted in the same textbook manner. This spill has changed the way communicators will plan for and execute strategies around crises of all kinds. New questions are being asked and long-held assumptions are being challenged. Here are the top five communications trends I see coming from the BP Gulf spill:

  1. Consider the ethics of social channels. BP makes a regular habit of turning off the comment function on social media channels and not allowing other views to be shared on its profiles. This is presumably to help control the message and avoid issues of liability -- but how should Facebook or YouTube react to this? Twitter said it wouldn't touch the satirical account mocking the oil company, but in early June it asked the author to make it clear they were not connected to BP. Are social networks simply platforms anyone can use to distribute a message, even if that message isn't 100 percent accurate or there is no room for response or debate?
  2. One vs. many spokespeople. How would a Zappos, IBM, Starbucks or Dell (to use a few oft-cited examples of more open and connected corporate cultures) handle a BP-like situation with their brands? Classic communications strategy suggests to follow BP's lead and anoint a single spokesperson. But these go-to models of crisis control are challenged when hundreds speak for a brand, even if informally. The Internet is an organizational tool. If an organization facing a crisis is socially connected and understands the networks they have created, they'll know what to do. The clearest way forward is to ask your online team members to follow some basic guidelines about when and how to respond in the specific situation at hand. The three main tasks for the formal and informal social media teams are: Thank people, correct facts, and share updated information. Remember to keep responses short, accurate and polite, and to link to a place where aggregated information about the crisis can be found. Remind your online team not to apologize for the incident, never to debate or engage in defense or explanations.
  3. Tactics are not directly transferable across mediums. A common refrain from many analysts is that BP ripped pages from an old playbook to use on the new field of communications. Good communicators understand that communications strategy must be tool-agnostic, but that tactics are tool-specific. In other words, BP used classic communications methods in new mediums. This dissonance was immediately seized upon by organizations like Greenpeace and the satirical BP account on Twitter.
  4. The old paradigm of broadcasting to persuade is being challenged. BP's communicators took to YouTube and created what seemed like television ads. They would have been better served by attempting to stimulate a conversation, providing a realistic portrait of the work being done, or engaging in a live, viewer-centric Q&A session. Overall, the BP website and spokespeople lacked a human or colloquial tone.
  5. Sometimes you just can't win. BP has failed to realize that sometimes trying to "win" PR battles actually results in an organization losing the overall communications war. Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" suggested in his Vancouver Sun/Montreal Gazette column that perhaps BP never really had a chance. "If the basis of social media is based on trust and credibility, how can BP be expected to engage and truly connect?" he wrote. "For now, it's hopeless. But that was probably also true long before a drop of oil ever touched the Gulf of Mexico."

15 Great Articles About BP's Response

In the course of reading over 100 articles about BP's PR response, I came across several pieces that offered valuable insight and information. Here are the 15 best:

  1. Why social media won't help BP: Vancouver Sun
  2. BPs woes start a the top: Globe and Mail
  3. Failures made worse by PR mistakes: MSNBC
  4. BP PR blunder carries high political cost: Reuters
  5. BP and the long tail PR crisis: SMI
  6. BP is attempting to cram the square peg of the traditional mass media into the round hole of social media: Derek Devries
  7. BP can't tweet: Merriam
  8. Adweek reports on BP's major social media push -- with disabled comments: Truthout
  9. Do social media complaints make a difference to a brand?: ComMetrics
  10. BP should fix the problem, not "join the conversation": OpposablePlanets
  11. What BP should be doing with social media: Socialnomics
  12. Review of BPs social media campaign: Bruce Clay
  13. BP's Gulf PR disaster - give them a break!: PR Disasters
  14. Social media won't help big, bad BP: Canwest
  15. BP Social Media Response to the Spill: Social Technology Strategy slide show

Ian Capstick is a progressive media consultant. He worked for a decade in Canadian politics supporting some of Canada's most charismatic leaders. He is passionate about creating social change through communications. Ian appears weekly on CBC TV's Power & Politics, weekly radio panels, and is regularly quoted online and off about the evolution of public relations in a connected world. He describes his small communications firm, MediaStyle.ca, as a blog with a consulting arm.

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July 08 2010


‘A week on the dark side’: Hack trades places with PR, blogs about it

PRWeek’s deputy feature editor Kate Magee has swapped places with a PR officer for a week to see what life is like on the so-called “dark side”.

Magee is working at Bite Communications and is blogging her experiences from the other side of the equation. It’s a light-hearted, but interesting look at some of the inate differences and similarities between the two industries.

The PRWeek blog can be found at this link…

Magee’s first post on ‘Hack to Flack’ is at this link…Similar Posts:

June 03 2010


Independent: Are PR agencies forging the new journalism?

PRs, who once had to go through the prism of journalism to convey their messages to a mass audience, are increasingly confident in circumventing traditional media altogether. In generating their own video and text-based digital content on behalf of clients, they are not only taking the bread from the table of a weakened advertising sector but encroaching onto the old territory of television and press companies.

The Independent’s Ian Burrell looks specifically at Edelman, the PR firm which has recently hired former BBC man Richard Sambrook and the Financial Times’ Stefan Stern, and suggests that the American-owned PR firm has a different strategy from other public relations agencies: it wants to take its clients’ messages directly to the consumer.

“The mantra is that every company has to be a media company in their own right, telling their own stories not just through websites but through branded entertainment, video, iPad and mobile applications,” says Sambrook in the Independent article. “Big companies are going directly to the consumer to engage them now, rather than through display or spot ads and the traditional means of trying to reach consumers. You can’t just be out there shouting at people about your brand, you’ve got to engage with them quite carefully, and the editorial skills that I can bring can help with that.”

Social media has given PR agencies an advantage over ad agencies in reaching the consumer, says the piece, but will PR fill the news void as traditional media continues to fragment? Or will audiences still need a third-party filter or endorsement?

Full story at this link…

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May 12 2010


5Across: Athletes on Social Media

Back in the day, the only coverage of a sporting event came from the accredited media. But now, you can find out more from fans in the seats taking pictures and posting to blogs -- or from the athletes themselves who are getting hooked on Twitter and Facebook status updates. In fact, Major League Baseball has warned players it is watching what they tweet, and the Manchester United soccer team took over social media accounts from their players.

There is an obvious shift in power, with athletes trying to find their own voice on social media, and fans getting to have their say online. Where does that leave traditional sports journalists? Having to adapt, both by monitoring social media for more news (and missteps from athletes), and using it to keep in touch with readers. We convened a special roundtable discussion and party for 5Across to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the show, with special guest Olympic athletes Natalie Coughlin and Donny Robinson. We talked about the shifting landscape for sports media, the balancing act for athletes sharing personal details with fans, and the faux pas that happen when you give a star a global megaphone.

5Across: Athletes on Social Media


>>> Subscribe to 5Across video podcast <<<

>>> Subscribe to 5Across via iTunes <<<

Guest Biographies

Andrew Braccia was one of the initial investors and currently sits on the board of SB Nation, the largest and fastest growing network of fan-centric online sports communities. He joined the investment firm Accel Partners in 2007 bringing with him a decade of experience at Yahoo. His primary areas of investment interest include consumer Internet and software businesses with a focus on web search, digital media, online gaming and online advertising.

Natalie Coughlin is an Olympic swimmer who has won 11 medals in the 2004 and 2008 Games -- winning a medal in every event she has competed in. She is the first woman to win back to back gold medals in the 100 meter backstroke. She was a judge on "Iron Chef" and competed in the show "Dancing with the Stars." You can follow her on Twitter @NatalieCoughlin or become her fan on Facebook.

Award-winning columnist Ann Killion has been following the world of sports for more than two decades. She worked for many years at the San Jose Mercury News and is now a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated and Comcast Bay Area Sports Net. She is also communications director of Vivo Girls Sports, a social network for girls who like sports. You can follow her on Twitter @annkillion or read her blog here.

Hannah Patrick works at Sports Media Challenge where she focuses on training, consulting, and media analysis for major sports celebrity clients such as Shaquille O'Neal, Danica Patrick, and MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden. She also championed SMC's efforts with the innovative social media segment for SportsCenter's Blog Buzz segment. Hannah develops new media strategies for a wide-range of clients including the Big Ten Network, Conference USA, and ESPN Regional Television.

Donny Robinson is a professional BMX bike racer, having won a bronze medal in the 2008 Games, and a World Championship in 2009. He was the first man to win world titles in all four BMX classes. He lives in Napa, Calif., and you can follow him on Twitter @DonnyRobinson.

If you'd prefer to watch sections of the show rather than the entire show, I've broken them down by topic below.

Personal Details

Best Practices

The Numbers Game

Athletes Behaving Badly

Democratization of Media


Mark Glaser, executive producer and host
Darcy Cohan, producer

Charlotte Buchen, camera

Julie Caine, audio

Location: Vega Project & Kennerly Architecture office space in San Francisco

Special thanks to: PBS and the Knight Foundation

Music by AJ the DJ



What do you think? Do you follow athletes on social media, and which ones do you think do it best? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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March 19 2010


NGOs as newsmakers: Russian-Georgian conflict edition

VIENNA — In August 2008, two wars unfolded in South Ossetia. Georgian newspapers and television stations reported an aggressive, unprovoked Russian invasion of their country. Russians, meanwhile, watched images and read tales of Georgian troops committing genocide.

For a brief period, Georgians could flip between TV stations to watch both versions. Soon, access to the Russian media ended. (Russians could not access Georgian TV and few Russians would be able to read Georgian print media.)

Margarita Akhvlediani, a longtime war correspondent and editor in chief of Go Group/Eyewitness Studio, studied the coordinated PR campaign by Georgia, the ensuing media coverage of the conflict by both Georgian and Russian media, and the role of NGOs in the information cycle. She presented some of her findings and related research at the Milton Wolf Seminar on the future of news and NGOs here in Vienna this morning. Her conclusion: International NGOs are critical to the dissemination of information in war and crisis zones.

Akhvlediani described a tale that came to symbolize the conflict for many Russians. According to the war story, dozens of Georgian villagers, seeking safety in a local church, died when Georgian soldiers burned the church to the ground. Human Rights Watch looked into the story, spending three months traveling to villages throughout the region looking for the church. Eventually, Human Rights Watch concluded: “…numerous Ossetian villagers interviewed by Human Rights Watch in [the] village said they never heard about, let alone witnessed, such an incident.”

Akhvlediani argues that this independent research serves as an important fact check on one-sided reporting happening by both sides of the conflict. Local NGOs, Akhvlediani explained, found themselves in a similar situation as local media — unwilling or unable to report a rounded look at the conflict, instead presenting a single point of view.

Western media, which parachuted in to cover the conflict, by and large provided a biased take, too, especially at the start of the conflict, according to fellow panelist Andrei Zolotov, editor-in-chief of Russia Profile (and a former Nieman Fellow). Many journalists seemed happy to latch onto the underdog narrative the Georgia government had pushed, he said. (Two dozen press releases went out in the first few days of the conflict, seeking to shore up Western support for Georgia). “It’s a very easy story to sell,” Zolotov said.

The work of Human Rights Watch, which took three months, is an unlikely project for any outlet, even the best-off newspapers. It’s an example of an ongoing theme we’ve covered this week: How can NGOs be newsmakers?

March 17 2010


PR Pros Use Twitter to Reinvigorate Brands, Engage in Conversation

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts operates luxury properties in countries all over the world, from the U.S. and Canada to Asia the Middle East and Africa. Aside from traditional promotions, one of the ways it connects with current, past and future guests is via its main Twitter account. Several accounts are also maintained by individual properties.

"We push out news and information; we think that's valuable," Mike Taylor, Fairmont's public relations manager, told the Hotel Marketing Strategies blog. "We include package and rate offers. We don't see Twitter primarily as a distribution tool. But if we have something that's a great deal we're going to let people know about it."

In terms of results, it has seen hotel occupancy rates rise after tweeting "online only" discounts, and it's been able to reach out and promote its brand.

"Twitter has introduced us to people we otherwise wouldn't have a relationship with," he said. "So it's sort of that global neighborhood concept where these people wouldn't have reached out to us or vice versa if we were not participating."

Other Twitter PR success stories include Comcast, Dell, JetBlue and Shaquille O'Neil. They have all reinvigorated their brands using the service. All are near becoming social media case study cliches.

Some in the hospitality industry take it one step further: The Roger Smith Hotel, for example, is connected to every corner of the social web. But its innovative use of Twitter is where it really shines. The New York City boutique hotel attracts travelers based on its regular -- and charming -- use of Twitter.

"I really found the genuine ability to connect with people valuable," Brian Simpson, the hotel's director of social hospitality, told Techipedia, "and we have continued to use this as just one of many pieces of the funnel hopefully driving people to be more involved with us outside of just booking a room."

These successes are well documented. However, many businesses, organizations and individuals have trouble converting the case studies of others into success for themselves. As it turns out, public relations thought-leaders suggest it's less about the tool itself and more about learning to adapt and adjust to the new medium.

Conversation is Key


Maggie Fox, CEO of the Social Media Group, suggests Twitter has become the driving force of the news cycle.

Her company has been Ford's social media agency since 2007, and claims status as "one of the world's largest independent agencies."

"From a PR perspective, Twitter is the circulatory system of the news cycle," she said when asked if PR practitioners can use Twitter effectively if only checking once or twice a day. "It is a constantly churning stream of scoops, updates and perspectives generated by millions of users and mainstream media outlets. Twitter interaction advances the story in realtime, as you watch."

She said knowing about Twitter is one thing, but engaging in conversation is what is key. "Twitter [usage] patterns are different for different people," she said. "Some tweet every quarter hour, others, every day. Whatever suits your style and objectives, go with -- as long as it's regular and consistent. I think the point is you have to use the platform to know it; setting up a Twitter account and tweeting once six weeks ago is not using the platform."

Dave Fleet, a well known PR blogger and the account director at Thornley Fallis, a national Canadian PR firm, said it requires more than just becoming a proficient user of one tool like Twitter.

"If you're able to connect with people through Twitter then great, but you can also make great connections through in-person contact, over the phone, through other online tools or through any number of communications media," Fleet said.

Customization is Essential

Edelman Digital's Steve Rubel agrees with Fox and Fleet's assessment, suggesting "it really depends on the individual PR professional's focus."

Rubel said "customization is key" for both clients and PR pros adopting Twitter as a business communications tool.


"Generally speaking, however, I believe that every PR professional needs some level of situational awareness about what is going on in a given community at a given time and will need to check into Twitter accordingly," he said. "In addition, those on the front lines will need to become increasingly visible online and offline -- including their client affiliations."

When asked how he advised clients to stay on top of the changes and evolution of Twitter, Rubel said, "I generally don't."

"There's way too much focus on the technology and tools," he said. "Instead I advise them to study audiences and trends and then identify tools that fit. Too many people start with the tools first. That's like buying paint before you have a floor plan."

Fleet said the same is true for PR pros.

"Most people don't need to stay on the bleeding edge of the latest tactical client," he said. "It's more important that they use the various social media tools effectively and strategically rather than looking for the next shiny object. With that said, part of our job as consultants is to stay on top of these tools, and to be able to recommend the best tools for our clients. So, part of that onus falls on us."

Ian Capstick is a progressive media consultant. He worked for a decade in Canadian politics supporting some of Canada's most charismatic leaders. He is passionate about creating social change through communications. Ian appears weekly on CBC TV's Power & Politics, weekly radio panels, and is regularly quoted online and off about the evolution of public relations in a connected world. He describes his small communications firm, MediaStyle.ca, as a blog with a consulting arm.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

November 23 2009


Natalie Fenton: Has the Internet changed how NGOs work with established media? Not enough

[The publishing power of the Internet has opened up new possibilities for NGOs seeking to spread their messages. But is this new access changing the kinds of messages NGOs create, or is it reinforcing old paradigms? Natalie Fenton of Goldsmiths, University of London, examines how the online landscape has changed NGO communications. This is the third part of our series on NGOs and the news. —Josh]

Publicity — both for campaigning and for fundraising — is a central aspect of all NGO work.1 For many NGOs, particularly the large, resource-rich organizations, responding to a media-saturated environment has meant a growth in press and PR offices increasingly staffed by trained professional journalists. These professionals apply the same norms and values to their work as any mainstream newsroom albeit with different aims and intentions. They use their contacts and cultural capital to gain access to key journalists and report increasing success in a media-expanded world.

Early exponents of the advantages of new communication technologies2 proclaimed that new media increase access and create a more level playing field. In reality, however, resource-poor organizations have been forced to rely on long-standing credibility established by proven news-awareness and issue relevance. They find it much harder to keep up with changes in technology and the explosion of news and information spaces, and much harder to stand out amidst the countless online voices competing for journalists’ attention.

This essay draws on a range of interviews with a variety of NGOs and journalists conducted throughout 2007 and 20083 to consider the NGO as news source and the nature of its relationship to the professional journalist in a new media environment.

To be noticed, NGOs are now expected to embrace all of the opportunities available to them in the digital world — from blogging, podcasts, and social networking sites to their own online news platforms and beyond. Below, I refer to this opportunity and expectation as both the seduction of space and the tyranny of technology. Servicing these different communication channels and technologies requires investment of time, money and technical skills, resources that are not equally available to all. Certain organizations, and particularly those that are resource-rich, may be getting more coverage (often online). But even in these cases, to better secure coverage, NGOs must modify their content to fit pre-established journalistic norms and values — a media logic that has led to “news cloning.”

Cloning the news

Here, “news cloning” refers to the practice by NGOs of providing news that mimics, or indeed matches, the requirements of mainstream news agendas. Davis4 notes how research on various campaigning organizations5 points to increasing use of professional press and publicity methods for political and economic gain. The large resource-rich organizations maximize this political and economic gain by employing trained journalists in press offices that often simulate professional news rooms. As one interviewee notes:

Certainly everyone in a particular section were journalists and intentionally so. When I was there I was the first one, I think, to have been a journalist. It was something new. That’s changing now, and they are wanting more journalists to come in. When I went for my interview, the boss said, it’s all changing and we’re very excited about media. [Interviewee A: Press officer of a large international NGO talking about a previous job in a similar organization]

Every NGO interviewee in this study reported an increase in media-related activity; the larger organizations have experienced a steady increase in paid press officers, most of whom have professional journalistic backgrounds, over the last ten years. These NGO news professionals spoke frequently of how they knew intrinsically what makes a news story:

I like to think I could bring a certain kind of instinct to it. [Interviewee A: Press officer, large international NGO]

Of how they used their network of journalist friends to shift stories:

My football team that I play for is the Press Association. Not that they actually work for the Press Association anymore but they work on the Daily Mail, The Independent, they’re all hacks and we play other hacks. How easy is that. It’s not like the well meaning press office sends out a press release saying “this is really important”, rubbish. [Interviewee A: Press officer, large international NGO]

Of how they perceive themselves as journalists:

Because I like to write the story. Because, having been a journalist, I want to do all of it. Often, the text we give them is used word for word or it’s word for word but with the third paragraph of it put first and then the second paragraph fourth or whatever. [Interviewee C: Press officer, large international NGO]

These large and resource-rich organizations “work” the mainstream news on a daily basis and seek to provide ready-made copy to fill the ever-expanding space available to news in the digital age. This may make these organizations very news-friendly and ensure they receive more media coverage. But there is little evidence that NGOs have managed to change news agendas and challenge normative conceptions of news criteria. On the contrary, pressures to reproduce these normative conceptions are increasing. The result is news cloning:

There is definitely pressure to kind of move on to something that might be perceived to be more newsworthy. [Interviewee H: Press officer, small international NGO]

Those who do news cloning can be seen as “political entrepreneurs”6. Their ability to be entrepreneurial is determined by the resources available to them. These resources include financial aspects (the capacity to maintain a press office and employ specific staff); the cultural capital associated with class, professional status, and expertise; and the legitimacy and credibility gained through previous activities within the political and media fields. In this way some NGOs have followed a “media logic”7 that conditions how they behave — how they provide news gatherers with material that conforms to the pre-established criteria of what news is.

I’m a proper old hack. I used to be on the other end of [press releases] and they just went straight in the bin, not a chance. You just put your journalistic hat on and you think, well, if I got that as a story then would I run it or not? [Interviewee E: Head of media, large international NGO]

As the news space has expanded so dramatically, with 24-hour rolling news and the Internet in particular, the onus upon such “political entrepreneurs” to reach and penetrate all of the various news platforms also increases. The ability to do this consistently and with rigor is time consuming, though not necessarily difficult with a ‘cloning’ mentality. Only those organizations with adequate numbers of suitably trained personnel can sustain the levels of activity necessary to blog, inhabit social networks, develop their own news pages, contribute to online forums, and so on:

So some of this [media work] actually is driven by individual staff members, because there aren’t so many of us. We can’t just hire in things, and we’re on quite tight budgets. It’s largely, who do we know? Can we do it in-house? Can our person who does membership databases spend some time doing this sort of thing? [Interviewee D: Press Officer of a small national NGO]

Smaller, resource-poor organizations that have small press offices with staff that have often come up through the ranks cannot keep pace with the information onslaught on mainstream news sites and platforms of their wealthier counterparts. As Davis8 notes, more resources:

mean more media contacts, greater output of information subsidies, multiple modes of communication and continuous media operations. Extreme differences in economic resources mean wealthy organizations can inundate the media and set the agenda while the attempts of resource-poor organizations quickly become marginalized.

So new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are far from expanding access to, and representation in, mainstream news media amongst resource-poor groups, as much of the early literature envisaged.9 Resources, in particular the ability to spend time and money on keeping up-to-date with technological advances and feeding an insatiable news space still structure access and determine levels of representation.

Seduction of space

The limitless potential of the Internet was recognized across the board, both with excitement because of the possibilities it offers, and with resignation because not all organizations have the resources to invest in it fully. The seductiveness of the space available creates a kind of tyranny for NGOs — a never-ending process of mediated reflexivity and a feeling that they can never do enough but must always keep trying:

We also started using photographs in reports, but that’s now moved on. There is a sense there is a need to not just have decent images for reports that illustrate graphically what you’ve written, but also to have short clips and testimonies from the people that you’re interviewing or, if this is not possible, from the [NGO] researcher. The aim is that those clips could be used by media organizations who don’t have the wherewithal to call in. [Interviewee H: Press officer, small international NGO]

The days of a couple of phone calls, a few press releases, and maybe a press conference are over. This world of source-journalist relations is faster and greedier than ever before. This is paradoxically leading to forces that reproduce existing power hierarchies on both sides. All news outlets are content-hungry, and NGOs need to feed the expanding news space relentlessly if they are to gain coverage. The seductiveness of space invites recognition of the huge potential for coverage but it is only realizable for those with resources and well-established relations with journalists, and those willing and able to fulfil normative news criteria.

The majority of NGOs feel that because of the space that journalists are now required to fill and the time pressures in which to do it, their copy gets picked up more readily and more rarely gets changed:

…journalists are now expected to write copy for the newspaper and write copy for the website and maybe to blog and maybe actually to produce podcasts now as well. So what we are looking at is how we can make the journalist’s job as easy as possible. They will take exactly what you give them. I think that has changed from before, when you gave a journalist a press release or an idea of a story that would then be worked up. I think now we see much more of our stuff appearing verbatim. [Interviewee J: Head of communications, large national NGO]

The sheer amount of news space and multiplicity of news platforms available has also led NGOs to seek out and prioritize the traditional, trusted news forms. They do this for two reasons. First, they believe that the high-profile, high-status news platforms will provide a springboard to all other forms of news dissemination, including all online news as other news organizations constantly fee off these sites10; and second, they believe that these outlets are still the most trusted news sites by the general public and the most closely watched by the powerful. Only two of the organizations interviewed showed any active awareness of alternative news sites, and even then these were sidelined in favour of the “big hitters”:

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of Indymedia, I don’t know what it is. My view is, if you write for BBC Online, then it gets out there anyway and it gets picked up by everyone. I don’t need to worry about phoning these people up and talking to Indymedia. I need to know that I’m not wasting my time. [Interviewee A: Press officer, large international NGO]

The obvious consequence of NGOs targeting traditionally powerful news outlets with more and more professional adeptness and news know-how is that established news values remain as dominant, and one could argue even more entrenched, than ever before. In other words, the Internet may provide constant possibilities for the fracturing of dominant discourses, but on the whole these possibilities remain unused and untapped. NGOs use new media simply as different ways to get the same story out. And the story is written to fit all the normative dimensions of mainstream news as closely as it possibly can.

The tyranny of technology: “Because we can, we do”

No organization could not have a website, could they? I mean, you couldn’t not have a website because you would look stupid. [Interviewee I: Head of communications, small national NGO]

In the larger, resource-rich NGOs, once new technology has been accepted as part and parcel of one’s media presence it becomes an endless process of revamping and updating. This is no small task, and frequently organizations reported a growth in staffing to deal with the new roles created (or required) by this new technology. Contrary to claims of new technology breaking down communication barriers due to ease of access and relative low cost, the relentless marketing of new software and new communication fads and fashions put ever more pressure on NGOs to maintain technological faculty at no small cost. The endless amount of space available, the multiplicity of news channels all requesting information and material along with the need to ‘keep-up’ with new technology trends was felt as a substantial pressure by many:

We currently have a sense in the organization that we do need to be venturing into new media but we’re held back by resources and time. [Interviewee F: Press officer, small, national NGO]

Organizations with small press offices simply can’t keep pace with the demand of 24-hour news, putting them at an immediate disadvantage:

Obviously the 24-hour rolling news programs are in themselves a problem. They almost discourage things because as soon as you get a news item then somebody else will pick it up and then somebody else will pick it up and so everybody wants another quote. [Interviewee G: Head of communications and policy of a medium national NGO]

Of course, the tyranny of technology is also accompanied by the communicational possibilities that the Internet offers outside of the mainstream news arena. Despite the perceived importance of gaining mainstream news coverage, and the efforts and constraints that this imposes on the activities of NGOs, the Internet has enabled resource-poor NGOs to gather information and disseminate their work more readily than ever before, particularly within and among their own publics. In an investigation into the websites of international and national environmental NGOs in the UK, Finland, Spain, Greece, and the Netherlands, Tsaliki11 argues that the Internet is most useful for intra- and interorganizational networking and collaboration. Rather than bringing in new forms of communication, on the whole it complements existing media techniques for issue promotion and awareness-raising.

There is also a growing literature on the use of the Internet by new social movements for oppositional political mobilization. Much of this literature agrees that although such activity may not point to identifiable new political projects, it does point to unprecedented political activity of a global nature.12 This form of networked technopolitics links marginalized groups and builds counter discourses. It resists the construction of a one-size-fits-all politics by insisting on the preservation of a multiplicity of political identities. Many of the grassroots groups involved in these new social movements consciously reject the mainstream media and seek to establish other, alternative means of communicating their message.13

As with other established communities (such as politicians and interested political groupings on the inner circle of Westminster14), so with the voluntary sector: The use of the Internet for intra- and interorganizational debating and sharing of information seems to have increased sociality and interactivity and augmented communicative ties. Internal communities of interested people are built and reinforced through the networks facilitated by new communication technologies:

We did some work on a very high profile campaign on Internet repression which caught the eye of a lot of bloggers and gave us a good reputation with them. So we started reaching out to the bloggers. We have now what we grandly call the e-Action Task Force, where there’s about 200 or so bloggers that we regularly send information to and encourage them to blog about those issues on behalf of our organization. [Interviewee B: Head of press, UK division of large, international NGO]


It appears that the Internet has given NGOs more opportunity to peddle their wares and get their voices heard, to build communities, and to exchange information and engage in communication. When it comes to mainstream news, however, these voices have been trained to deliver what mainstream organizations are crying out for — news that conforms to established, unchanging news criteria and provides journalistic copy at little or no cost. As a result, the line between the professional PR agency and the large-scale campaigning NGO has blurred into near extinction.

For those that do seek coverage in the mainstream media, the expansion of news platforms has resulted in the tried, tested, trusted, and thereby credible NGOs rising to the top of the pile. These are NGOs who can provide journalistic copy and have learnt the rules of the game. As news now comes from everywhere, conforming to normative news values is more crucial than ever before for gaining coverage.

This raises a critical question: If NGOs are simply doing the job of journalism — putting together well-researched, legally tight, impartial and objective stories — does it matter that it is them and not the professionals in news organizations that are making the news? Does it make any difference? There are three important rebukes to this line of argument.

Firstly, we need NGOs to be partial, occasionally illegal, and passionate about their cause — if they continue to mimic the requirements of mainstream, institutionalized news, then arguably they will fail in the role of advocacy, become no different than elite sources of information, and lose the position of public credibility (that comes by dint of distinction from elite sources15) that many are now enjoying. If all NGOs conform to the dominant “media logic” then they are all journalists and everybody’s story is newsworthy. And of course, by definition, then nobody’s is. This is a pluralism that succumbs to the rule of the market, where multiplicity merely translates into more of the same, albeit packaged in different ways and designed to attract the journalists’ attention — an attention that is increasingly preoccupied with market conditions.

Secondly, in the competitive environment of news sources, those with established positions of advantage and “bureaucratic affinity”16 are likely to retain a level of dominance. In the end, new media is just a different way to get the same stories out, and being able to get it out is still, on the whole, a privilege of the well-resourced.

Thirdly, rather than conveniently ignoring or maybe even welcoming news cloning, we need paid journalists in news organizations to expose the inadequacies and shortfalls of thoroughly mediated democracies if we are to retain a journalism that can be said to be for the public good and in the public interest.

Natalie Fenton is a Reader in Media and Communications in the Department of Media and Communication, Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is also Co-Director of the Goldsmiths Media Research Programme: Spaces, Connections, Control, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and Co-Director of Goldsmiths Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy. She is currently directing a large-scale research project on new media and the news, part of which involves an investigation of NGOs as news sources in a digital age. She has published widely on issues relating to media, politics, and new media, and is particularly interested in rethinking understandings of public culture, the public sphere and democracy. Her latest book, New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age (2009) (ed.) is published by Sage.


Allan, S., Adam, B. and Carter, C., eds. Environmental Risks and the Media. London: Routledge, 2000.

Altheide, D.L. and Snow, R.P. Media Logic. Beverly Hills, CA.: Sage, 1979.

Anderson, A. Media, Culture and the Environment. London: UCL Press, 1997.

Benkler, Y. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale: Yale University Press, 2006.

Davis, A. “Public Relations and News Sources.” In S. Cottle, ed., News, Public Relations and Power, 927-943. London: Sage, 2004.

Davis, A. “Comparing the influences and uses of new and old news media inside the parliamentary public sphere.” Paper presented at the Futures of the News symposium, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2007.
Fenton, N. “Mediating solidarity.” Global Media and Communication 4, No. 1 (2008a), 37-57.

Fenton, N. “Mediating hope: new media, politics and resistance.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 11, No. 2 (2008b), 230-248.

Klein, N. No Logo. New York: Flamingo, 2000.

Fishman, M. Manufacturing News. Austin: University of Texas, 1980.

Gaskin, K., Vlaeminke, M. and Fenton, N. Young People’s Attitudes to the Voluntary Sector. London: National Council for Voluntary Organizations, 1996.

Manning, P. Spinning for Labour: Trade Unions and the New Media Environment. Aldershot: Avebury, 1998.

Miller, D. and Williams, K. “Negotiating HIV/AIDS Information: Agendas, Media Strategies and the News.” In J. Eldridge, ed., Getting the Message: News, Truth and Power, 126-142. London: Routledge, 1993.

Norris, P. Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Norris, P. Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Putnam, R. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.

Rheingold, H. Smart Mobs: the Next Social Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002.

Schlesinger, P. “Rethinking the Sociology of Journalism: Source Strategies and the Limits of Media-Centrism.” In: M. Ferguson, ed., Public Communication: The New Imperative, 61-83. London: Sage, 1990.

Tsaliki, L. “Online Forums and the Enlargement of the Public Space: Research findings from a European project.” The Public 9 (2002): 95–112.

  1. A more detailed discussion of this argument can be found in Natalie Fenton, ed. New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age. London: Sage, 2009.
  2. Klein 2000, Norris 2002, Rheingold 2002
  3. These interviews formed part of a larger project on new media and the news in the Goldsmiths Media Research Centre: Spaces, Connections and Control, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This involved more than 150 semi-structured interviews with a range of professionals from a cross section of news media stratified by type of media, geographic reach, professional roles, and commercial and public sector broadcasting. It also included a range of news sources including NGOs. The sample of NGOs drawn upon for this essay was stratified by purpose (both those whose main purpose was as service providers and those whose main purpose was acting as pressure groups); geography (whether local, national or international) and size (calculated on the basis of annual income), although it was by no means a fully representative sample. Interviewees included both general and senior managerial staff in departments/ units aligned with media relations/ publicity; but did not include those with prime responsibility for online communication (often of a technical persuasion) where these differed from those involved primarily in media relations.
  4. Davis 2004: 31
  5. Miller and Williams 1993, Anderson 1997, Manning 1998, Allan et al. 2000
  6. Schlesinger 1990
  7. Altheide and Snow 1979
  8. Davis 2004: 34
  9. For example, Putnam 2000 and Norris 2001.
  10. In the UK this translates into The Today programme on BBC Radio 4; the Press Association; BBC 1 evening news; The Guardian and The Times followed by the BBC website.
  11. Tsaliki 2002: 95
  12. Fenton 2008a, Fenton 2008b, Benkler 2006
  13. Fenton 2008b
  14. Davis 2007
  15. Gaskin et al. 1996
  16. Fishman 1980
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