Sarah Booker

24/11/2015

Searching social media for news – dealing with the hard stuff

Refugees trapped between Macedonian riot police and razor wire on the Greek border. Image by Freedom House on Flickr, licenced by creative commons.

Refugees trapped between Macedonian riot police and razor wire on the Greek border. Image by Freedom House on Flickr, licenced by creative commons.

“Do you have a personal care plan?” Gavin Rees, director of Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma Asked the audience at News:Rewired In Focus.

Most of the audience kept their hands down. It is not something any of us like to think about.

Dealing with traumatic and violent images is part of the working day for many journalists, this can result in what Mr Rees “vicarious trauma”.

News services recruit people specifically to search social media for user generated content to provide eye-witness footage to tell stories.

These journalists are watching at the front line of battle without staring down the barrel of an AK47.

Mr Rees spoke without slides as images stay with us. It is a fundamental part of the mammal brain.

During the Q&A former war reporter John McHugh on Twitter of Varifeye Media, explained how watching footage in his office was more traumatic than three-months in Afghanistan.

He said: “After going to Afghanistan I had time to decompress.

“You’re there, then when looking at images it affected me much more.”

When he was out in the field he expected it. He was shot, shot at, saw people dying around him.

Going into a war zone is not a pleasant experience and he knew it,

Seeing footage of the same thing then having a chat with someone about last night’s TV is a difficult transition.

Sam Dubberley on Twitter co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub, explained how data gathered found 56% of front line journalists expect to see disturbing as part of their jobs and 46% feel disturbed by it.

How do they cope? Watching dog-themed Tumblr and Taylor Swift’s Instagram were suggested mechanisms.

As one of his slides stated: “We do the Internet, that’s kittens…”

Kittens by Mathias Erhart on Flickr. Licenced by Creative Commons.

Kittens by Mathias Erhart on Flickr. Licenced by Creative Commons.

Journalist looking through Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and a multitude of other resources, see violence, blood and death.

Going back to the personal care plan, how can journalists protect themselves? How can employers help them?

  • Alternating what people work on. For example one week quirky and kittens, the following week Syria and Yemen.
  • Encouraging people to talk to one another. Share what upsets or traumatises. A trouble shared is a trouble halved is a useful piece of home-spun wisdom.
  • Take regular screen breaks.
  • Have plants and green things around you.
  • Use a mask over images or a piece of paper against the screen.

And finally, watch this:

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19/02/2015

Ten key lessons from inspiring and terrifying Fleet Street Fox

Fleet Street Fox at Journalist Works

Fleet Street Fox at Journalist Works

I always enjoy a talk from Fleet Street Fox aka Susie Boniface.

When I first came along to Journalist Works to hear her speak I was packing for my honeymoon, but was such a fan of her blog I had to hear what she said.

It inspired me to sell myself a better for online journalism sessions.

Rather than “I’ve been on the internet since 1995”, I led with a list of my exciting deeds.

Unlike Fleet Street Fox I have never driven a nuclear submarine but I covered Sir John Mills’ funeral and interviewed Rolf Harris (that’s a different blog post).

She always starts off with the hard truths of journalism.

People do think you’re going to turn every conversation you’ve ever had into a news story.

People will stop trusting you as soon as you say what you do for a living.

People will treat you like scum.

You will see and hear horrific things.

But it also is such great fun.

Tweeting and Instagramming Fleet Street Fox's visit to Brighton Journalist Works.

Me (right) Instagramming Fleet Street Fox for Journalist Works, Brighton. Picture by student William Axtell

Here are a ten key lessons for journalists from her talk today (February 19):

  1. Want to work online? You’ll have a career in 20 years
  2. Your objectivity is not enough, it is the reader and source who must believe your ethical objectivity
  3. What you need is a level of enthusiasm bordering on mental illness
  4. Scotch eggs are a complete meal in a ball when you’re waiting on a doorstep
  5. You are not the story. Write for readers not for you
  6. Reporters do not say what they think. If you think someone is a scumbag you can’t tell them
  7. Understanding your analytics means knowing when people are reading. Target your tweets when your readers are online
  8. You get a knee-jerk reaction on Twitter from the headline alone. Facebook readers tend to read the article before sharing and commenting.
  9. Writing online is like writing for the regional press. Readers will tell you when you’ve messed up very quickly
  10. Don’t be a twat

27/05/2014

Reasons why no journalist should dismiss social media

Filed under: Social media,Storify — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 10:31 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Social media image by Jason Howie, licence by Creative Commons

Social media image by Jason Howie, licence by Creative Commons

Years ago colleagues used to say I was wasting my time joining discussions in the online forums for towns and villages in our patch.

Even when I tracked down someone who was evacuated from a building next to Buncefield Oil Depo as it exploded, they were still sceptical.

Time and technology move on. When I created My Space then Facebook and Twitter accounts for the Worthing Herald colleagues dismissed them as pointless.

I introduced Twitter in 2008. By the time I left the Herald in 2011 everyone in the newsroom asked my advice as they set up their own accounts.

Both Twitter and Facebook have proved useful tools for news gathering as well as distribution.

Facebook community pages and groups help reporters keep up with people’s concerns from cashpoint card cloning to inconsiderate parking and potential child abductions.

Twitter is a great way to keep track of politicians, community groups, local government and events.

Even though the internet isn’t a new thing and social media is an established tool.

Reporters of all ages and experience embrace or resist.

When I asked journalists how they would encourage resisters, there was an assumption the nay sayers were old.

I have taught online journalism skills to NCTJ students in 2009 and in every group I’ve had at least one person say, “I’m not interested in this”, “I don’t want to do online journalism”.

One student who didn’t turn up to my first class in 2009, but ended up working with later summed up the situation very well when I spoke with him at an event in 2013.

“You were the first person I knew talking about Twitter and bit.ly.

“You are right, we need to know this stuff, it’s essential for journalists.”

Below is a link to a Storify explaining why journalists should use social media.

15/05/2011

List making is hard to resist

Filed under: Social media,Twitter — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 12:24 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Curiosity led me to the Sunday Times Social List after spotting a few #stsl tweets and reading this blog by Adam Tinworth. I don’t consider myself influential, I share the occasional opinion and find other people far more interesting, but put myself on the list anyway for a laugh.

This will be my highest rank ever:

Sunday Times Social List ranking

Bet I won't be a 'tycoon' for long

In some ways this is a bit like Word Nerd, the Times game to show how clever you are. It was fun for about half an hour and a great piece of promotion.

At Journalism.co.uk we created a top 100 most influential journalists in the UK, in early May. We seeded the list with 50 people and then threw it out to the crowd. There are journalists missing from this list, but the people on it were nominated by their peers, and then ranked according to PeerIndex‘s algorithms.

Personally I don’t think there is a definitive list. There are people who are useful and interesting to you, and they are the most important.