TL; DR: The Iowa Caucuses on Social Media

The Iowa caucuses are all over, and the social media winner of the night was Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, who was “mentioned over 77,000 times on Twitter during the caucus, while Clinton was mentioned 52,000 times”, according to social media sentiment analytics firm Brandwatch.   Sanders also beat Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to get more new Facebook followers: 15,695 to 10,704.  What correlation is there, if any, between social conversation trends and who wins an election?  This was a question that MSNBC asked, and then answered.  Not at a lot, was its conclusion.  Mashable, however, said that Twitter nailed it.  So the jury’s still out, apparently, on whether social media performance translates into real electoral gains.

The most entertaining social media star was #stickerkid, also dubbed the “new left shark”, who upstaged Hillary Clinton with his own special brand of publicity.

We saw journalists periscoping and filing quick live hits optimised for Facebook straight from the caucus locations.  Here’s  one from Lawson Elementary School by Zoe Daniel from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


Live video chat here at 2pm AEDT from Iowa. Hit subscribe for notifications.

Posted by Zoe Daniel on Monday, 1 February 2016

Ben Terris of the Washington Post filed a lovely twitter story about a tiny Democratic caucus in someone’s living  attended by 52 people.

And one last unforgettable moment – filmed by BBC’s Newsnight – was when Republican hopeful Ted Cruz tried to hug a little girl, and she really, really didn’t like it.  The problem for him?  It was his own daughter.

For Monday’s class, please read the findings from The Revenue Picture for American Journalism and How it’s Changing (Pew).

Assignment: radio piece of between 2 and 2’30 for Feb 9th.    Here’s a cheatsheet with some of the most basic commands/moves from today’s workshop.  Rubric is here.


Doom, gloom and podcasting

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The End of Twitter is the title of a piece in the New Yorker last week, which writes

that a series of mediocre product changes at Twitter (such as the much-hyped but ultimately confusing Moments feature), a stagnant user base, and a massive executive brain drain have called into question whether Twitter can survive as a business.

It says Twitter is facing an existential crisis because its service is so confused and undifferentiated,

What should worry Twitter is irrelevance, and there is growing data to suggest that that is where the company is headed. If Twitter’s real-time feed is its most powerful asset (and it is), it’s not difficult to see a future in which Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or even a newcomer likePeach (yes, I am citing Peach) focus enough on real-time news that they obviate the need for Twitter’s narrow, noisy, and oft-changing ideas about social interaction.

One major problem, as in this listicle, is Twitter’s role as “Troll Central”, while Facebook looks like it’s about to muscle in on Twitter’s core strength: real-time sharing.  Meanwhile, gloom about the future of newspapers, with estimates that 1000 newsroom jobs are being lost every month in the US.   A former student, Paige Pfleger, wrote for NPR

Digital-only outlets are also pursuing local news. Last year, Pew counted nearly 500 digital news startups that launched within the past decade, many of which are local outlets. But these aren’t exempt from the difficult news climates that have killed local papers.

On the upside, 2015 was the year that we started to take podcasting seriously.   And noone so much so as WNYC, which spanned the divide between the public radio world and the podcasters.   And for an aural representation of built-in obsolescence, please spend time at the Museum of Endangered Sounds.  It’s just a click away.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 14.58.44

WEDNESDAY’S CLASS IS IN THE Faculty Observatory, 2F, Hatcher Library.  For reference, our NPR One document is here.  

READING:  1) Why Audio Never Goes Viral (Digg)                                                                                                                               2) What can make Audio Go Viral (Nieman)                                                                                              

ASSIGNMENT:  Radio project:  a recorded interview or a simple radio piece, of between 2’00 and 2’30.  The theme should be related to technology and digital disruption in your beat.  Rubric is here (for Feb 9)

Buzzfeed Is Teaching Me to Cook

Cheese-Stuffed Pizza Pretzels

Posted by Tasty on Thursday, 14 January 2016

Admit it: you’re now ready to try this yourself.   Buzzfeed – long the master of virality – is conquering the foodies with its short wordless recipe vids.   Within 24 hours of posting, 37 million people had learned how to make cheese-stuffed pizza pretzels and 650,000 people had liked the recipe, according to Fortune.  Buzzfeed’s Tasty channel has now knocked Justin Bieber from the top spot of video creators,  having received a billion views in December.
What’s the secret?   One is that it’s content created specifically  – or optimised –  for Facebook, which make use of its Autoplay feature.  They’re so quick that you may as well finish watching them if you start.  According to Fortune, this strategy can be expensive, and risky,

On top of the costs, there’s a high risk for publishers that rely on a platform like Facebook or Snapchat to distribute their content. Famous YouTube stars have long complained that they don’t “own” their subscribers. In other words, if they left YouTube they’d have to build up their following again from scratch. The same is true of Facebook, which constantly tweaks its algorithm to favor or suppress certain kinds of content. Algorithm tweaks have tanked entire media businesses (ahem, Upworthy). Of late, Facebook’s algorithm has favored video posts above photos and text-only posts.

To many, outsourcing digital distribution is a repeat of what happened in the web’s earliest days. Everyone wanted their publications to live inside a web portal like AOL, and it seemed mutually beneficial: AOL had the audience but no content to give them, and media organizations (including Time Inc.’s former parent company, Time Warner), had the content but no audience. But those relationships soured and media companies decided it was better to control and operate their own websites.

“Every content provider, every production company, every publisher would like to have control over the pipe,” Cooper says. But since social media platforms are today’s “pipes,” BuzzFeed is working within that construct. The company has mitigated risk by using multiple platforms, giving the company “the distinct advantage of not becoming over-reliant on one platform,” Cooper says.

Buzzfeed has taken this one step further, by burrowing down and creating Proper Tasty, a channel specifically for British comfort food lovers, which turns out to be their fastest facebook page.   This is the Long Tail of the internet, allowing publishers to target niche populations.  And as a Brit, I have to admit that I may just end up trying bangers and mash sausage rolls.

Bangers And Mash Sausage Rolls

Posted by Proper Tasty on Sunday, 17 January 2016

READING:  1) Should Reddit be blamed for spreading a smear? (NYT)                                                                                       2) Ten Ways That Journalists Can Use Twitter Before, during and After a Story (Poynter)                                                     3) Digital Media Ethics (Uni of Wisconsin)


Live tweet a news event.  Ideally it would be something local that you are actually present at, though it could be a press conference or some other such event that you are watching live online.   It should be something that relates to your beat.   Paste each tweet into your wordpress site, so that others are able to view your live-tweeting experience.   Please do not paste teeny-weeny screenshots. (for Jan 24 8pm)    The rubric is here.   USE THE CLASS HASHTAG! #c439

Five Things You Could Live-Tweet

Consuming News

Courtesy of AUD

Courtesy of AUD

How do we consume the news?  That’s the question we’ll be thinking about in the blogposts for Thursday’s class.   And that’s what’s obsessing news organisations, particularly the vexed issue of how millennials consume the new.   The Charlotte Observer has been testing one strategy – the Charlotte Five – a newsletter which also includes ‘Seinfeld Journalism’, or stuff that people talk about that isn’t really news.   Pew has a new study out which finds that, when it comes to social media sites, Facebook is still king.

Before Thursday’s class, please read the first 45 pages of Post-Industrial Journalism, and have a glance at this graphic. We will also discuss A New Consensus on the Future of News.