Monday, July 2, 2012

On when to embed tweets {gripes}

I love embedding tweets in stories. I’m all about it, especially when it takes the place of a quote.

The idea being, sometimes, people will tweet things that they wouldn’t say into your mic, or in front of your notebook. Sometimes, Twitter brings a truth serum to our lips.

Or, Twitter will be a good place to find sources, where you can quote their tweet and follow up with an interview later.

Social media sourcing can be a great way to get parts of the story you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. It’s a good way to display that in-the-moment thought, or quip.

But it’s not a good way to fill space. 

Take this HuffPo story: 

To take a step back, social media shouldn’t be used to fuel lazy journalism. It should never be a replacement for shoe-leather reporting. For a phone call.

And it should always be verified. Were they there? Did they see it? Do they have something to add?

What worries me is the idea that social media reporting is a good substitute for actual reporting. It’s not. It’s a good tip-sheet. It’s a good tool, not a replacement.

The telephone is used to make the call. Twitter is the telephone. It’s the mechanism by which we can touch our audiences. Using it does not mean you know how to ask the right questions, or call/tweet the right person.

There still needs to be good reporting behind it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How a tweet turned into a DDOS attack {stories from the front}

Sometimes, I play reporter (for those of you who do not know, I was a reporter for years before I moved over to social/web).

Last night was one of those nights. 

Earlier in the day, our friends at the LATimes broke a story: Someone had posted a bunch of personal information on LAPD officers. The immediate question was “who?”

Around 5 p.m., the reporter who sits next to me figured it out. It was a hacker group called CabinCr3w. 

What did the other news sites do? They said “a hacker group.” The initial stories did not list the group’s name at all.

I have a personal interest in Anonymous, and the cloak-and-dagger side of the Internet thanks to dating one too many developer/nerd types. 

As Tami called the LAPD, I hit up the internet. I looked at the group’s tumblr, their twitter, and all their various profiles trying to find the post where they listed the info and anything else I could get. Then, using what we had, I tweeted.

Here’s what happened after that tweet.

I had more questions, so I asked them to DM me. We followed each other and then I got a DM that linked to an IRC chatroom.

I interviewed them.

Right about this time, we experienced a heavy load of traffic — what amounts to a denial of service attack. If you’ve ever experienced one of these you know it’s either that you hit something big or that there was an organized attack. We’ve had one before, but that was as a result of our stuff living on the same server as conservative news outlet. 

What is important about this to me is that no one else thought to tweet these guys. Other news outlets were too cautious or didn’t know to link to them or call them out. 

Because I sent out one tweet and @ mentioned the subject of the story, we got the story behind the story. 

That’s important to me. Being “of the internet,” I have always felt like few people have gotten Anonymous and hacktivism. I barely get it myself, but I’ve made an effort to learn as much as I could.

I asked CabinCr3w is they launched the DDOS attack. They said no. I asked if we had reported their involvement correctly and fairly. They said yes.

Just because they’re a part of a cloak-and-dagger movement doesn’t mean they are any less legitimate than any other source. 

The lessons?

  • @ mention subjects of stories, even if you haven’t interviewed them
  • Everyone is worth of an interview
  • Getting a better story using social media doesn’t take a large amount of mining or work. Sometimes, it’s a simple tweet.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The spread of mis-information and realities of live-covering events {braindump}

(Just a note to remind you that I’m posting as me, not officially KPCC.)

{Edit, adding in some stuff from Alex Cohen’s interview with RTNA rep Royal Oaks}

It has been a whirlwind of a week here.

Last night, Occupy LA was raided and cleared out by the Los Angeles Police Department. To cover it, we continued a live blog we started Monday as well as live-tweeted. 

I want to jot down my thought on two things. One more nerdy than the other.

Media pools and the spread of mis-information

Somewhere around 5:30 p.m. I sent an e-mail to our radio and print staffs about a LAPD briefing that would happen at 7:15 p.m. The alert went out via Nixle, a notification service LAPD uses for crimes and media events. It was picked up on Twitter quickly.

This was the first tweet I saw, which is a good summary of the text we got. 

Jazmin_Ortega: #LAPD meeting to do lottery to select “pool media” for future #OccupyLA activity. Interested media in pool must have rep attend mtg @ 7:15pm 

A note: you needed to be credentialed with the LAPD to be considered. 

We sent three people to the event, both from web and radio side. In that meeting, the reporters and LAPD agreed to three pools of four people, each pool would have a radio, print, TV and photo/video representative. The general rule was (which I don’t believe is uncommon with pools) that you can’t do any of your own reporting until you file to the pool.

A good explanation from Alexis Madrigal’s Atlantic article

The POOL consisted of our our editors, editors of other print publications, and a central news service that anyone else (tv, radio, more print) could read,” Smith told me. “Once we filed to the POOL… that info could go live anywhere. The premise was that we just couldn’t be greedy and publish information from inside the park directly to our own site without first sharing with the POOL so everyone could have it at the same time.

An RTNA rep told us in an interview today that originally, LAPD only wanted one pool and media negotiated to three.

"There was a negotiated resolution to the question of a need for a pool and the extent of a pool," he said.

One of the first articles that went up on this was from the LA Weekly. Then there was this post, from an Occupy LA blogger. (In retrospect, maybe we should have written a story on this right away.)

Here’s what bothers me. Immediately, this was reported as censorship. Depends on how you look at it. Should they have set up a pool to cover a public event? Not sure. Do you normally need police permission to go beyond police lines at an event? Yes. (Think of crime scenes here) 

That was still not clear to Oaks. He sad he wasn’t clear that press had “unfettered access to the entire area.”

I asked SPJ-LA yesterday if they were concerned with what had happened. They said discussions had taken place, but no official stance.

Oaks, again from our interview, said that LAPD may trying to avoid a repeat of events in 2007 that resulted in a lawsuit against them when reporters got hurt covering a protest.

Press were certainly allowed in the park as police raided, but if they failed to listen to police, they would be subject to arrest. 

Grant Slater was our videographer on the ground, was not arrested. Some of his thoughts, summed up from tweets.

"I watched the pool come and go from the epicenter, whisked on by as i remained. eventually, though, i was led out by the arm." he tweeted "seemed for a moment that i had better access than pool who were being ferried around."

But what I saw on Twitter was far from what Grant said happened. I saw fevered claims fueled by the mis-information that pool press was censored, not allowed to tweet or say anything until the raid was over. As far as I know, no one from our team was told explicitly that they could not tweet.

Frank Stoltze, our guy in the pool, tweeted the whole night.

We wrote about this at our liveblog. I tweeted under our official live handle AND my own in an effort to get the incorrect information changed or correct information spread. It was beyond difficult to get that to stick.

In an age where social media rules, what role do we, as media, have to correct the quick and virulent spread of social media? Is it worth pursuing?

The realities of live….covering

Now the nerdy part.

We covered the move by LAPD in two dynamically new ways for us: A Scribble liveblog (a tool we’ve never used before) and livetweeting from a brand new account.

Some stats on the tweeting part that I sent out last night.

We gained 414 followers in less than three days on KPCCLive
We tweeted 560 times
We made 15 lists
We were Retweeted 437 times and @ mentioned 698 times
We possibly reached 2.81 million people

The most difficult part of what we did last night is in the same vein of what I said above. In an effort to be completely transparent and verify as much as we could, I made a decision

I would not RT something that appeared to be a first-person account that was not. There were a lot of people watching livestreams, then tweeting and it was hard to tell who was there. So over time, I built a private list with people who told me, and proved to me that they were actually at the camp. 

I did RT some things from second- and third-person sources, if it was decently clear that it was a RT of a first-person account or a note or press release.

If you look through KPCCLive’s feed you’ll see a lot of me @ messaging people “Were you there? Where was this? Do you have a photo?” I wanted to make sure people know I was trying to verify, so no DMs unless it was sensitive.

If I came across something I found compelling, but could not get confirmation, I old-school RTed with a question (not unlike Andy Carvin’s style).

It was hard to do this on a brand new account. Unlike Andy, I had not spent significant time building up Occupy sources. I probably missed things and good accounts. Next time, we’ll start building that list early if we anticipate live-tweeting something,

On the liveblog, we took in tweets and other info and tried to build it out more with context. We used Campfire to pass info between the team working on the liveblog (thought sometimes I was tweeting and blogging) and myself or who was watching the account.

We came across interesting issues. 

I considered it a service to embed and link to livestreams within the camp. But many were from protestors or activists. There were things said that were biased. Should we promote that? Is it like a RT? Does out audience know the difference?

I talk and write a lot about trusting the audience, so it’s a bit easy to guess my stance on this. But it’s a good point to think over. At what point is something that, regardless of the service, too biased to link to? How do you show your audience that it’s NOT you? There were certainly points where I cringed at what the livestreamers were saying.

I’ll try to build out my thoughts more on both of these topics. But if you have questions or things you think we should ponder, give me a shout.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Hunt for Social Media Monitoring

(Argh. I just wrote half of this, only to X out of the window, let’s try again.)

Part of my job in social media is to do a little monitoring, and to do so, I need some sort of analytics to pull from. We could use Google Analytics or some hodge podge of other things, but I was hoping something out there would work as a social media monitoring tool.

This is an epic adventure. So, to save someone else time and heartbreak, I’ll chronicle it here.

In case you’re wondering, here’s my wishlist for whatever we go with:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Measure monthly, as well as real-time
  • Measures Twitter with stats on mentions and RTs per story and overall for the month/week/day
  • Measures our Facebook Fan page in terms of fans and maybe interactions (this might not be possible bc Facebook has no API)
  • Also tracks convos across the web

The No-Way-Joses

SociafyQ Logo

SociafyQ (Free)

The Pros: It’s free. It also does have access to our Facebook fan page, though it only counts fans.

The Cons: Twitter doesn’t go beyond anything besides followers. The site says it tracks RTs but I can’t find any evidence of this.

Social Radar (No Idea)

The Pros: Curates a TON of content

The Cons: Content mentions are not the crux of what we need. Although Social Radar does a lot of analysis, it’s more for brands, than news orgs.

Trendrr ($999/mo)

The Pros: Like Social Radar, it is a great buzz meter.

The Cons: Really? $999 a month? eh. no.

Scout Labs ($249/mo and up)

The Pros: One of the more robust conversation managers I’ve seen. Built for teams, not individuals.

The Cons: No social media analytics and you can’t track your accounts, just mentions.

Radian6 ($600/mo)

The Pros: Radian6 seems to be the market leader for social media marketing.

The Cons: There is just no way we can afford this.

SocialSense (No Idea)

The Pros: Man there is a lot of info on this site.

The Cons: I watched the video and still have no sense of what they track and what they don’t.

The Maybes

KeenKong (free, in beta)

The Pros: A really well done conversation manager. You can look at the sentiment, then the kind of post, then the network size.

The Cons: This was my favorite of the conversation managers, but I’ll save it for down the line.

Sysomos (No Idea)

The Pros: A manager that is owned by Marketwire. Heartbeat, the smaller of the two apps, might have what we need…but I can’t see a demo or anything on the site.

The Cons: I might call, although I’m not sold on it.

The I’ll-Test-This-Outs

Swix ($9/mo)

The Pros: You can track everything from Google Analytics, to social media, to videos.

The Cons: It’s missing the Twitter interaction count, though on Twitter, a rep said that that might be coming into play soon.

PostRank ($9/mo)

The Pros: There’s been a lot of buzz about this because of their Google Reader plugin. It’s a great, well designed app.

The Cons: There is no tracking of fan pages and although you can see Twitter interactions per page or post, there’s no aggregate monthly.

ViralHeat ($10/mo and up)

The Pros: You can search for a term or terms, then it shows the twitter mentions, facebook fan posts an etc.

The Cons: There’s no way for me to filter out our own Fan pages or look at interaction on just the Fan pages we are in charge of. Same for Twitter.

The Conclusion

I really like the three we’ve got to test and I think one of them might work, but I don’t know that any of them offer the exact solution I’m looking for.

If anyone has recommendations, I’d sure appreciate them….