Sarah Booker


Reasons why no journalist should dismiss social media

Filed under: Social media,Storify — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 10:31 am
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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

“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.



links for 2011-09-01

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Information is Beautiful – David McCandless #iweu live blog

Filed under: journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 4:39 pm
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Billion Dollar-o-gram


Billion Dollar-o-gram

The Billion Dollar-o-gram from Information is Beautiful by David McCandles



Visualising the massive numbers after scraping data from New York Times and Guardian.

Different colours for different uses of vast amounts of cash.

GIves perspective and shows relationships between spending.

US gives more money than UK

Opec gives a tiny proportion to environment

Money spent on deficit could more than wipe out serious diseases like AIDs.

Relate the money spent on daily items with the tax paid per days.

Shows the break up times Facebook created.

Pure example of data journalism. Saturated by data journalism. Ask the right question it will reveal itself.

Data is the new oil.

Data is the new soil, it’s a creative medium and we create flowers

Mountains out of molehill visualisation showing swine flu, killer wasps, using Google insights to track trends.

Hidden patterns, shows the line for video games. Peaks at the same time of year. November big month for buying.

April is a big month for computer game fear as Colombine anniversary. It’s co-dependent.

Data is a prism to correct vision.

USA military budget bigger than the African debt and UK budget deficit. Can fit all the other top 10s.

Budget as proportion, largest is Myanmar and US is seventh.

Big spenders Jordan, Georgia, Saudi, Kyrgystan, Burundi, Oman…

China has the biggest army. Huge population.

Adjusted biggest army in terms of percentage and the top five are North Korea, Eritrea, Israel, Djibouti, Iraq.

USA 45th. China is 124th.

Visual CV. Journalism images create the story.

Design literacy and language, Looking for patterns and visual relief.

Speak two languages, data and visual.


General thoughts on News:Rewired

AFTER spending a day a’s News:Rewired conference I’ve come away feeling inspired and armed with examples to present to others – within the news organisation where I work and to students at future online journalism workshops.

In his keynote speech City University’s head of journalism George Brock, former international editor of The Times, described the news industry as throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick – a mixture of chaos and discovery.

He referenced Jeff Jarvis and entrepreneurial journalism, necessity being the mother of invention, and told how Twitter wasn’t the big player in the Iranian counter-revolution, but slogans on bank notes.

It was the sort of upbeat and inspiring speech you want to hear from a person at the forefront of training a new generation of journalists and I needed cheering up.

BBC College of Journalism editor Kevin Marsh made me jealous during his presentation. A fully integrated 24 hour multi-media newsroom staffed by 1,100 journalists tweeting, blogging, writing, filming, Audiobooing, telling stories in the best possible way. Such luxury!

A particularly interesting working concept Kevin explained were the BBC story communities with journalists working as a group, initially using MSN as a communication tool, sharing their specialist skills for stories such as mapping, Facebook, data-mining etc. The community grows and shrinks around a story.

Can be set up by anyone with change from the bottom up and the top down.

“Big news organisations doing better than you think at taking new ideas and adapting,” he said.

The way he described the how the BBC newsroom works as a dynamic evolving beast putting the web and rolling news service BBC New 24 at the centre, and not wait for the bulletin, is just how I believe newspapers should go forward.

In my working environment there are senior members of the editorial and commercial management structure who would like the web to go away. It’s not going to, and the BBC model is the one to embrace.

Print sales were falling before the internet took off as political and social apathy seems to have become endemic. Some people are just not interested in news.

What are we journalists to do?

I would sum Kevin’s presentation up as saying there are many things to learn, we can’t be experts at all of them, but can find new skills to enhance those we have already as journalists.

Journalism is the sourcing and investigation of the story and reporting is the telling of it. This is what we do, there are just more ways to do it now.

I’ll blog my thoughts on the workshops I attended and the news business models discussion separately.