On Monday, Reuters arranged for UK Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to be interviewed live by the social web.
We’ve been edging towards this with previous social media segments in Reuters-hosted NewsMaker events like those with Conservative leader David Cameron and World Bank President Bob Zoellick who have taken questions from Twitter and the like after making public policy speeches.
How should news websites cater for the appetite of news-hungry audiences for running commentary during major breaking stories like Iran’s post-election turmoil? The challenge here is to match what TV stations can do when they switch between news bulletins to rolling 24 hour coverage. Only the web ought to be able to do so much more given its scope for interactivity.
In an ideal world you’d want to provide the fastest, most thoroughly verified reports around the clock whether they or not they are from conventional journalists. And as a user I think you’d also want to be pointed in the direction of where you can find out more. If all this was easy then it would have been done by now. But it’s a lot of work. And all news organisations have had to strike compromises on one or more of those counts.
Zach Seward of the Nieman Journalism Lab has a great piece of evidence for the ‘nothing new under the sun’ debate. The ‘Telepot’ competition in the Penny Illustrated Newspaper of 1913 encouraged readers to condense telegrams into just 12 words.
If you share the view that the telegraph was the Victorian internet then perhaps this was the (very late) Edwardian Twitter.
Last week at Media140 — Britain’s first ever conference devoted entirely to Twitter — I was asked to discuss the successes and failures of Twitter within Reuters News. It’s a bit early in the game to be talking about successes and failures but we have been experimenting with the micro-blogging service for a year or so, and it’s perhaps not a bad time to take stock on what we’ve learnt.
We’ve come up with at least five ways in which Twitter is being used within Reuters News:
I spent last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos producing content for reuters.com, running some experiments in new ways to cover a conference, and observing the growing integration of social media into a major mainstream event.
We had great success with giving our correspondents ‘Flip cameras’ with which to grab short comments from delegates on the key issues of the Forum. You can see some of these on our ‘Davos debates’ on the economy, financial regulation, environment, and ethics. The major learning point was that these were much, much easier to use than the mobile phones we used last year in Davos.