HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Where you get your news depends on where you stand on the issues
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 19, 2012, 11:25 a.m.

From real time to slow social

“In our fixation on immediacy, we’re missing opportunities to tell a larger story through social means.”

My prediction for 2013 is really more of a wish — for a slow movement in social media.

Over the past two years, newsrooms have finally begun to “get” social media. Reporters are live-tweeting weather events, city council meetings, and combat coverage. Social media producers are sprouting in newsrooms large and small to curate events happening down the block and around the world.

We turn to social media during news events for immediate updates and eyewitness accounts, constantly refreshing and trolling for every possible bit of news and commentary. There isn’t a major event (earthquake, election, bin Laden raid) that we can’t visualize through social trends.

But in our fixation on immediacy, we’re missing opportunities to tell a larger story through social means. At times, we’re even perpetrating rumor for the sake of “real-time” coverage (see: Newtown shootings social media disaster). In both cases, we’re letting readers down.

In 2013, we are going to see more of a backlash against real-time rumor-mongering and a move to mine social channels for more substantive narratives. We’re already seeing glimmers of this approach:

The New York Times maintains a catalogue of eyewitness video from Syria dating back to August. “Watching Syria’s War” goes beyond of-the-moment curation to provide context around raw video and images found from Aleppo to Damascus. The Times provides context for each YouTube clip — what is known, and more importantly what isn’t. It fosters connections between readers and reporters in hopes of advancing the story:

The beta site Syria Deeply offers another approach to contextualizing citizen video, surfacing trends but mapping them in the context of refugee and fatality counts.

Both of these examples go beyond perfunctory retweeting and social streaming to paint a bigger picture where context is king. I challenge news organizations to think about how a “slow” social media movement could better serve our journalism and our readers in 2013.

Amanda Zamora is senior engagement editor at ProPublica. Previously, she was national digital editor at The Washington Post.
POSTED     Dec. 19, 2012, 11:25 a.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Predictions for Journalism 2013
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Where you get your news depends on where you stand on the issues
A new study by the Pew Research Center examines how Americans’ news consumption habits correlate with where they fall on the political spectrum.
Light everywhere: The California Civic Data Coalition wants to make public datasets easier to crunch
Journalists from rival outlets are pursuing the dream of “pluggable data,” partnering to build open-source tools to analyze California campaign finance and lobbying data.
Ebola Deeply builds on the lessons of single-subject news sites: A news operation with an expiration date
Following the blueprint of Syria Deeply, the new Ebola-focused site hopes to deliver context and coherence in covering the spread and treatment of the virus.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
537Watching what happens: The New York Times is making a front-page bet on real-time aggregation
A new homepage feature called “Watching” offers readers a feed of headlines, tweets, and multimedia from around the web.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Davis Wiki
Talking Points Memo
Gotham Gazette
NewsTilt
Outside.in
Newsmax
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Media Consortium
San Francisco Chronicle
Center for Investigative Reporting
Ars Technica
Publish2