Twitter as a News Gathering Tool at 140 Conference

Twitter as a News Gathering Tool

Participants:
Ann Curry (@AnnCurry) – News Anchor on NBC’s Today Show and host of Dateline NBC
Rick Sanchez (@ricksanchezcnn) – Host of the 3PM weekday edition of CNN Newsroom
Ryan Osborn (@todayshow) – Producer, NBC Today Show
Clayton Morris (@claytonmorris) – Anchor, Fox and Friends (he shared a pic from his POV of Scoble from the stage)

Moderator: Robert Scoble (@Scobleizer)

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Earlier posts referred to “Fox News Guy” as Clayton was added to the program. He’s properly credited here, thanks to Michelle Batten.

Robert mentioned history of his approach to TV. Recently there was a letdown.with the coverage of CNN.

Rick: I want to go after the word “disruptive.” I’ve wrapped my arms around everything that is social media. It’s a compliment that people were looking to us at CNN for protest videos, when others like MSNBC and Fox weren’t either. We did cover it in every single hour of the day on Saturday – some just 40-second increments. The power of the picture of people rioting in Tehran was so powerful everyone wanted to see it, even when there wasn’t much actual news unfolding. “At no time did we drop the ball on covering the story itself.”

Ann: We did an hour on Iran the Sunday before the election wasn’t because of social media but because we recognize you need to know what’s happening. You need to know change is coming to Iran. Journalism is a battle. I see the fights for foreign coverage to be more present. We are interconnecting on so many levels – economically, politically, through wars, etc. It was remarkable covering the Obama campaign and then the campaign in Iran – “there was really not that much difference between the Obama generation and the [Iranian reform] generation.” “The connectedness is that you in America had an idea about the Iranian people.” Most common response: “Oh my God. I had no idea. They’re really a lot like us.” A mistake: it’s a problem to go in constantly telling how Americans see a story. “I want you, [wherever you are], you shoot that story like it’s your mother… and you tell it in that way… I think it’s the road to really fully becoming global.”

Rick: In Twitter there’s almost a consensus that Iran’s election was illegitimate, but there’s no smoking gun from mainstream journalism about what improprieties happened.

Clayton Morris: I don’t think anyone has an answer for how the convergence happens.

Ann: It’s important to say when we report something it is true. I’m not sure everything I read on Twitter is true. But sometimes stories that are important to hear do not get reported. Got into Twitter when North Korea was firing missiles and others weren’t reporting on it. “There’s a lot of nuance” regarding what words you use and how you report. “You have to guard against misinterpretation constantly” no matter how you’re broadcasting. It’s about understanding your reader. “One word can completely change how people will interpret something.” “Reporting is a service job. It’s not a business – I know it is… It’s about taking care of people.”

Rick: “Social media is not something to be used as a gag.”

For more: read about my ongoing relationship with Rick Sanchez (including when I accused him of using it as a gag).

Ann (responding to comment that business of journalism is what destroys it): Here’s what gets me pissed off.  The reason I have to fight to go to Darfur, etc, is because it’s hard to get the majority of Americans or a significant number of Americans to care about Darfur.

Rick: If today Britney Spears is caught shoplifting topless and we don’t do it (Ann: I”m not doing the interview) – they will have a million viewers to our 20,000. 

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