A New Dawn

         Notes on New Media, Journalism & Communication

April 30, 2009

The Wonderful World of Social Networking

As a new media communications major and a hopeful journalist I have thrown myself into the craziness of social media and networking at full force. I have finally pegged twitter and am finally getting the full benefits from using it. More and more each day I get sucked into it. Constantly I am searching the site for interesting postings to re-tweet (RT), which man oh man are there tons!

Another social media network I absolutely love is delicious.com. It is a social bookmarking site and it is so beneficial for someone online. I bookmark everything I look at! Or if I don’t have time to read it at that moment I bookmark it anyway that way I will always have it to read later when I find time. I have pages apon pages of articles and links. It is great to be able to go back and give your sources to someone if they ask or quickly find the link if you want to re-post it.

Currently I am enrolled in a NMC 302: Reporting and I am absolutely loving it. Not only because who doesn’t need practice on good reporting skills or I love the work, but also my professor is absolutely amazing. She is a former newspaper reporter and has been teaching journalism in some form for about 12 years now. Her blog is great and I highly recommend checking out Old Dog, New Media.

In my reporting class we are doing beat journals every week. I have choose to switch around between international news, social networking and the media as my beats. This last week I wrote on social networking and I thought I would share it.

The World of Social Networking: April 19th to 25th, 2009

In social networking news Twitter has continued to dominate headlines. NPR, CNN, New York Times, LA Times, OPB all featuring the Twitter name in stories. On Mashable: The Social Media Guide, a story revealed today, April 24, actor Hugh Jackman used Twitter to help find a charity to donate $100K. He had asked Twitter users to pitch in 140 words or less why their chosen charities should receive the cash.

Mashable blog on Hugh Jackman charity donation.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has helped organize and host scores of successful charity campaigns. Early in the year Twestivals were held around the world where local Twitter communities could gather together offline and socialize to benefit and raise money for charities. It amazes me that this social networking tool can be such a useful campaign and fundraising tool. Most people who don’t use Twitter or have yet to understand its use may have a hard time realizing the powerfulness of the social connections it helps with. To learn click here Twestivals

I myself as a Twitter user have never heard of these Twestivals before but I am very intrigued that the Twitter community is using social networking to benefit those all around the world. It shows you how powerful connections are and if you gather a large group of people from all over with the same interests, concerns and cares then something amazing can come of it.

On CNN a volcano in Alaska makes headlines for having over 7,000 followers on Twitter.com. It would seem silly that a volcano would be making so many friends but then one must realize there are plenty of people all over the world that would enjoy keeping up with its seismic activity.

CNN: Volcano finds followers aflutter on Twitter.

Los Angeles Times wrote on April 22nd about Tweeting from Iraq. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was visiting Iraq this week as part of a delegation of new media technology executives invited by the State Department to explore ways technology can help rebuild the country. Execs from YouTube and Google were among others participating. They are hoping to use new technologies to promote transparency in government, encourage private-sector development and address many of the social problems Iraq is confronting.

LA Times: Iraq: Twittering from Baghdad

I think this is a great idea but most people in Iraq don’t have access to the internet so it may be difficult at first to get things rolling. But Dorsey had noted that 85% of Iraqis use mobile phones, which allow them to tweet and promote social networking. Who would have thought that social networking would have been called into play to help rebuild Iraq? Not I. It makes sense to me how it can help Iraqis voice their opinions and organize their ideas but can it really work. With the direction technology has been making in media and social networking I don’t doubt that something positive will come of this project. No one thought a revolution via twitter was possible but Moldavians proved a lot of people otherwise.

On NPR I heard of the news that Ashton Kutcher surpassed CNN in a race to one million followers. Each party had agreed to donate mosquito nets to battle malaria win or lose. Again you see how charity comes into play using Twitter.

NPR: Ashton Kutcher bests CNN to Become undisputed Twitter King

Monday, April 20th, I listened to a great piece on NPR about how Twitter and other social networking sites are being used for news sources more. Breaking stories sometimes appear on Wikipedia or Twitter before they are even reported by news organizations. It also talked about how journalists sometimes pick up pieces of news on these sites as a starting point to a breaking story.

NPR: Thumbs to the News: public Turns to Twitter

But the real question that is tackled: can you trust the news you receive from these social networking sites? If you read about a breaking story on someone’s Twitter page does that make it real? A lot of these people who are relaying these breaking news stories aren’t actual journalists or professionals of news. It can be hard to tell if information was even verified because for non-journalist they don’t understand the importance of that. It is frustrating as a hopeful journalist seeing how just about anyone could throw out a juicy news story or any information that might not fully be true and it may be read more than your story, which you worked hard hours to get the facts and get them right. But I do also see the positives of social networking news stories because it is helpful to people who don’t have a lot of time on their hands to quickly get updates about what is going in the world. That is why the New York Times and other established news organizations have social networking sites so they can deliver truthful breaking stories to people around the world. I would personally choose to believe a twitter feed from the NY Times over a man in India who just gave an up date on breaking news in Oregon, not saying this is true but just an example of what could be.

As I search relentlessly for summer internships I have came across quite a few offering experience running social networking sites for companies. For businesses today it is a must to be marketing themselves on these social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace or Twitter. Pizza Hut even put an ad out for a summer job to tweet for the company, I found out through New York Times.

NY Times: Tweeting becomes a summer job opportunity

Businesses need to market themselves on these sites to rack full potential of advertising. It helps consumers connect with businesses like they never have been able to before. Social network sites allow them to get in touch and see how the consumer feels and get input that can help them out in being successful. I think it is a great tool and should be used as much as possible in marketing a product or business. But again social networking sites such as YouTube can also play an enemy. Take for instance an article in BusinessWeek about how a few Domino employees posted a video on YouTube of them molesting food before sending it out to customers.

BusinessWeek: Domino’s Pizza Youtube video lesson: Focus on Standards, and Pack your own Lunch.

At first Domino’s tried to convey it as a hoax but that didn’t work. As you can imagine things haven’t been going very well for Domino’s in trying to put this fiasco behind them. It is hard with social networking to hide information because everything is seen and heard. For one business or entrepreneur it might help build them but for other companies it may be the death of them. I am not saying Domino’s will be closing their doors any time soon but I don’t see customers rushing to their phones to dial in delivery any time soon either.

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