Tweak Your Biz » Technology » Journalists’ experiment to show how we see the world through the Twitter and Facebook lenses

Journalists’ experiment to show how we see the world through the Twitter and Facebook lenses

As part of a journalistic experiment called “Behind closed doors on the net” – due commence on February,1 – five journalists will be based for five days in an isolated French cottage and try to generate news with their only source of information being Twitter and Facebook, with no access to TV, radio, print media or smartphones.

The declared purpose of the unusual experiment is to determine whether news generated solely from these two sources could be as reliable as traditional

I’m not one to believe that news can be generated and written solely based on Twitter and Facebook updates simply because there’s so much going on there and so much incorrect information that it’s easy for the lines between reality and rumours to get blurred. In some instances users must be ruthless with the information even when they have access to links and other resources, online and offline and try to determine the accuracy of a piece of news.

For instance, the title of a Mashable post I received on my Facebook wall read: “Could These Be Pictures of the Real Apple Tablet? [PICS]”. For those interested in the subject, this is bound to spark some interest. The blog post, which shows a few images of, presumably, the new Apple Tablet – initially reported to be launched today – also generated a lively debate between readers who bring arguments for and against the reliability of this information.

Now imagine that you’re not able to click on the link to read the post, check the accuracy of the information using different venues and write a piece of news based only on the information on your wall and the comments of Facebook users (which are sometimes off-topic as well)!

That said, this will definitely be an interesting experiment to follow, at least to see what it would be like to only have news generated by these networks and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a glimpse of which one of these two is better at delivering “real” news.

Their success in sourcing great news it’s also going to be very much dependent on the reputation or image the journalists in the sociosphere. Twitter and Facebook are both based around communities and people who share their thoughts, experiences and knowledge with one another. This sharing encourages trust among users and whether or not the journalists have built those relationships will also determine the success of their endeavour.

My money is on the fact that this experiment will show us what we already knew about the relationship between journalism and social media, namely that social media tools are simply that – tools, just like the journalists’ sources or their voice recorder. Journalism, by definition, is a complex system of various sources and, in writing a qualified and compelling piece of news, one source will never be enough.

I’d love to know what your view on this subject is! So please, engage in conversation!

The Author:

I am a social media enthusiast, pursuing a career in marketing with a distinct focus on social media. I’ve been involved in sales and marketing for the past 5 years within companies in various activity sectors, such as e-commerce, quality assurance (ISO), publishing, education and business services. I hold a degree in English Language Communications and Literature, currently studying toward a MA in Marketing and writing my dissertation on the subject of social media and how it’s radically changed the way brands engage with each other and with consumers.

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  • Good post Paul. It’s true that most of the people don’t understand networking or maybe don’t have the patience. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool that brought me closer to the hundreds of people I met offline and a great way to keep in touch as well.
    Like a LinkedIn ambassador y proactively asked very single person I met “if they were on LinkedIn” to stay connected. I’m surprised at the amount of people that were not or hadn’t even heard about it how now they’re using LinkedIn for enhance their networking efforts. Hope this online tool at least provides more confidence to keep on investing in real networking hours…

  • Anonymous


    Thanks for the comments.

    I agree with you that lack of patience can be a problem – The difficulty with networking is that you don’t see immediate results. Add to that the whole comfort zone issue.


  • Anonymous

    I have another tip. See the value in every person you talk to. Some people go in wih a strategic approach, I will make three contacts etc. But I find that every single person I talk to is a help, whether it’s because hey know a useful resource, or they know other people, or, as you say, you can give them some useful information or resources.

  • Anonymous

    Spot on Derbhile – this is a great point!!!!!

    Your approach means that you can get a win out of every/most conversations. When we get some wins we believe that networking is adding value and this will encourage us to network more. Too many networkers place the bar too high and this means that if they don’t land an opportunity the conversation is a failure.


  • “Ensure you take online connections offline with a phone call or meeting” Key point Paul! The funny thing is the people who tell you that social networking is pointless are the same people who don’t do this.

  • Aaron

    Hi Paul, so are you going to do some networking with us this Friday in the Dublin Job Club? Last meeting of the year

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Paul, very good article, as far as I can see the only way to get a job in this market is to look for the hidden opportunities as the advertised ones aren’t working so far!! Thanks again.


  • Great post Paul.
    Networking is not as tangible as actively applying for a job, but is non the less just as important. Perseverance is key here, we need to invest the time and effort. It also gives us the chance to give something back to others in our networks also. I agree that meeting as many people offline is very important and a great way to quickly grow one’s professional network.
    In terms of job-seeking, networking is a chance to tell people who you are and what you do, as well as making new connections and actively interacting with the professional world. Job hunting can be a very lonely way of life, so it’s important to get out there, invest the time (which there is more of if unemployed) and continue speaking with other professionals. It should be regarded as a long term strategy 🙂

  • Anonymous

    @Niall – very true Niall. I too am guilty of this sometimes myself and need to continually push myself.

    @Aaron – thanks for the comments – I will make it my New Year resolution to visit you in 2010. Let me know when you guys get going again. By the way Aaron’s Club is a good networking opportunity for jobseekers – heard some positive feedback!!

    @Wendy – I agree with you BUT don’t turn off from the advertised jobs completely. Combination approach but I certainly would put a bit more focus on proactive strategies.

    @Elaine – some very good points. Networking does give you the opportunity to get yourself out there and tell others who you are and what you do. It is an important point to remember that hiring decisions are made on more than just ability to the job and networking allows you to show the other important stuff.

  • Great post Sabina! welcome to Bloggertone 🙂
    Social media is indeed just a set of tools. Twitter and Facebook in this case are simply the evolution of communication utensils that journalists and other professionals use… The experiment is creative but not a big deal.

  • Hi Sabina, welcome to Bloggertone, It’s great to have you on board 🙂 This sounds like a really interesting experiment. I think Twitter has already been shown to be a useful and indeed reliable source of news during the aftermath of the Iranian elections. Questions that now remain are will the public invariably break and report the news going forward? and Is this a good or indeed a bad thing? In other words, will Joe Bloggs become the Journalist of the future? Thanks for raising some great questions, Niall

  • Thank you, Fred! It feels great to be here! 🙂
    There has been a lot of noise lately around the impact of social media tools on the future of journalism and there’s certainly going to be more excitement now, after the launch of the Apple tablet, with regards to the issue of print versus digital. It is a case of , as you well pointed out, an evolution of communication and what I hope is that it will encourage innovation of the traditional media, in order for this evolution to be passed on to the end consumer of media.

  • Thank for having me here, Niall! 🙂
    These are some very good questions indeed! I think we’ve only just scratched the surface of user involvement when it comes to social media. The possibilities are endless now that every individual with Internet access can, in fact, be a journalist. Social media has opened the door and there’s obviously no shortage of people who want in! On the one hand this could be a great thing as users can truly be active in the process value co-creation, on the other hand it’s impossible not to question how distorted will some of the information be?

  • Anonymous

    Big subject! When we are deciding what to believe, the popular route is to seek out believable sources. So reputation is always a key factor. However, even reputable reporters (Joe Bloggs as well as Journalist of the Year) are drawing information from sources that themselves can be tainted and are sometimes straight hoaxes, as I discovered the other day on Twitter regarding an aspect of the Haiti situation. Equally, the influencers are often engaged in manipulation, so the ‘truth’ can be a total fiction that is believed by millions. I think we’ve seen plenty of that – remember WMDs etc… So, whoever is spreading the news, and whether they are using jouralistic channels or social media tools, can make it as ‘reliable’ or otherwise as they like. Social media tools simply help bolster their reputation (when they use it wisely) and extend their reach. We all crave honest reporting, but I don’t know how anyone can decide how that is possible, let alone deliver it. What do you think?

  • This truly is a topic that hardly lends itself to an exhaustive discussion. And this is probably because the opinions each and every one of us have on this are inevitably either convergent or divergent, but more than likely subjective. This is also the word that describes news delivered/generated though social media tools. It’s been said that if you want to run a search on sentiment you should go on Twitter and if it’s facts you’re looking for do a search on Google. If we were to use this as our starting point we could say that honest reporting does exist, it’s just dependent on the perception of the person delivering it (this assuming that the news is not an absolute invention). And under these circumstances, the issue is whether or not anyone, be it a Twitter user or a journalist can truly be objective? Can someone really detach themselves from a situation and not put their own fingerprint on it? Or, perhaps, part of the beauty of reporting lies in this added perspective to which we can all contribute?

  • Anonymous

    Sabina, I think this is a discussion that could fill up bloggertone’s available space! So many angles to talk about here. To be horribly pedantic about it, for instance: if we propose that honest reporting exists under the terms you mention, surely we’d have to take into account that our (more than likey) subjective opinions based on our perceptions drawn from our own experiences, exposure, prejudices and outlandish ideas around something that could also be a deliberate fiction, are all that we have to establish ‘honesty’. Seems a bit thin to me, and it kind of diminishes the value of the word. I guess that’s why Murdoch chose beautiful reporting, as he spent less time agonising over that question and more time exploiting the added perspective!

    What do you think?


  • I agree! It does diminish the value of the word. In the world of social media “citizen journalists” are not bound by the principles of journalism to report facts, not opinions, to verify facts and be transparent with regards to sources etc. Traditional journalism relies on an objective method to try and convey a fair, reliable and accurate account of their reporting, however that’s not to say that the journalists themselves are objective. And even if this is the foundation, any journalistic account is still open to further investigation, interpretation, criticism and debate. In a world where there are so many sources of information readers will pick and choose the news based on their interests and with so many sources to choose from each one will be treated with skepticism. And because of this, no matter how transparent and accurate they try to be media consumers will still believe an account is biased. Now, I’m obviously not a journalist and don’t assume to know the process in depth, but this is where I think this experiment will have the greatest challenge: whether a journalist can truly verify the accuracy and reliability of a source of information on Facebook and Twitter alone and deliver quality news.

  • Anonymous

    Another thought. I am reading one of John Simpson’s books at the moment – you know, the BBC journalist. Here is a man with a vast knowledge of conflicts and politics around the world, who has, for over 40 years, placed himself in the centre of the action, often at great personal risk. Reading his book, it is clear that his personal take on things, which he is free to write in his own book, is very much more believable than the illusions and confusions weaved by the worlds press publicly. It’s a great pity, as here is a very humane, sincere and honest person who is contractually bound to tow the line and whose reports are massaged by others before they reach us – if they are chosen to be aired at all. So, even if he is on Twitter or Facebook, he cannot risk telling it how it is, even though he is better qualified than most in certain situations, and able to see round the spin and manipulation.