Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Now, what's tweeting done to journalism

If you're a tweeting Malaysian, chances are you may have been following the many streams from various journalists and news organisations tweeting updates from the happenings at the Perak State Legislative Assembly.

Live Reporting on Twitter - Share on Ovi

Now, in the era of the internet, the blog and the news site, live updates are not something entirely new. I remember accessing my mobile and refreshing every 15 minutes to see the latest results during the March 8 (2008) elections. But Twitter is something altogether different. Here's why I think so:

Too fast for filtering?
It's instant. It's spontaneous. And with a 140-character count, the reporting is straight and to-the-point. With the speed the live tweets are sent out, and the tone they result in, I suspect a lot less filtering is happening.

Yes, live updates on popular news websites are fast, but I bet you there's a couple of eyes looking at those updates before they go live.

I doubt that @edgemy has any similar process where the journalist needs to get clearance from his / her editor to post a tweet. What we get is unfiltered reporting straight from the source.

These are real people reporting
The Star's Deputy Executive Editor Wong Sai Wan (@saiwanstar) made a good point. He tweeted: "...now people realise we who write are real people" and I can't agree more. Last year's debates over the freedom of our press often cast the newspapers and media as monolithic organisations that were pro-government.

But when journalists Twitter, you'd realise that journalists are real people who have feelings, opinions and ethics. Most importantly, they are right there on location.

Follow @melodysong you won't see just a nameless entity covering a potentially dangerous situation. You'll see a very brave journalist who's put herself on the line to report the truth. So much so people actually care about her safety.

The conversation ripple
The third thing that's happening to reporting thanks to Twitter is the conversation ripple that's forming. Okay, I invented that term. But what I mean is this:

Journalist A tweets. Person B responds. Person C retweets. Person D follows Journalist A because he saw Person B's response. Then Person D retweets.
Multiply this X 100 times and see messages fly back and fourth. If the event was #hashtagged, you'd have a pretty good gauge of sentiment (at least among geeks).

Now, this is probably no different from what happens at the mamak stall when you discuss the front page of the newspaper with your friends. But virtually, think of it as 1,000 people crowding around the same table, and the conversation doesn't happen the next day but as it happens.

I'm not @melodysong, and I don't know what it feels like to be out in the field reporting and getting live feedback from hundreds of voices, but I'm pretty sure it's different from those days of just going out and covering a story then coming back to file it.

Normal people can report too
Goes without saying, just like with blogs - even if you don't consider yourself a journalist, there's nothing stopping you from tweeting what you see right in front of you.

As a bystander in this industry, I'm pretty excited to see where this is all heading. As a citizen of the country, I'm hoping this will mean more transparency and accurate reporting in our country.


KY said...

yess I love it! the news are too funny sometimes cannot tahan.

meldee said...

I'm deeply honoured to be recognised, David. With many thanks. But props to other online media and journos too, like Niki Cheong and the R.Age crew, etc etc. Cheers and thanks :)

suanie said...

melody did an awesome job. kudos :D

davidlian said...

@Melody: You did an awesome job and I can only imagine how much our country would change if every journalist had Twitter and every citizen could follow tweets. You're the trailblazer right here.

ShaolinTiger said...

The landscape is changing, in a positive way for once.

julian said...

Interesting, but it's good to consider at what stage of the 'hype curve' we're at. If you look back a few years, many people were saying the same type of thing about blogs (e.g. the 'unfiltered' part), and now in a way the 'tweetosphere' is the new new blogosphere.

People will always be filtering, especially as tweets start to get more widely noticed.

Not to say that Twitter has not proved its worth in a few cases so far (e.g. the Mumbai terrorist attack, River Hudson, etc.), but to follow tweets carefully takes a lot of attention, and constantly being 'on'. I doubt the majority of people want that - most prefer their news delivered in packages during their downtime (the classic one being the newspaper at breakfast; but now it's more like a five minute online break at work for many).

Of course things change and people adapt, so I dunno how things will develop. But I'm sceptical.

The 'conversation ripple' is a good point - perhaps the key thing here is the integration of mobile technology and the internet? It seems to me that that's the key difference of Twitter over previous internet technologies.

meldee said...

Haha, typical Julian; ever the academic. Makes me want to write another paper on social media.

David, I was just thinking the same thing actually! Journos tweeting. But is it ethical/professional? Hm..

saiwan said...

thanks david for the mention and yes @melodysong did a great job on Wed night.
Yes julian it remains to be seen whether twitter will be the next great thing since slice bread but seriously, its fun.
We too at the star have no protocol abt twitter. just "bantai" first...a real syiok feeling
sai wan

davidlian said...

@ShaolinTiger: Agreed. It's just the beginning.

@Julian: My point exactly, we're going down the same road as blogs right now, but is it different? I think the speed and spontaenity of Twitter does make a difference. If you look at how journalists blogged then and how journalists twitter now, the content is really different. With blogs, you self-filter because you have time to think about what you're putting down and as many words as you need to express diplomatically. With twitter, you're doing it fast with 140 characters - how much filtering happens with that?

You are right when you say mobile integration is key to Twitter and indeed, this is the next level of the internet - mobile. I notice the people most active on Twitter tweet not just from their desk but via mobile as well.

@melody: To me, ethics isn't defined by what platform you use to communicate - it's how you behave while communicating. I bet you could still tweet spontaneously and subscribe to the Journalism code of ethics (Do no harm etc.)

@saiwan: thanks for revealing that there's been no protocol for tweeting. Confirms the spontaenity of tweeting.

julian said...

Ya it's an interesting one :)

A thought that struck me yesterday is that Twitter is a bit like a new generation of IRC - chat on the move... Like you say, less planning going into it - just responding quickly to whatever anyone says.

Jayelle said...

Mel is making waves on twitter!!! So proud of her!! :)

Stanley said...

Was attending this journalism workshop and one of the facilitators was REALLY promoting twitter. Seems like its the new frontier of journalism. Just dropping by to say hi!

davidlian said...

@Stanley: Would that happen to be @nikicheong? And would that have been the BRAT's workshop? I'm PJ 2 1999. :)