How social media is affecting the news cycle

This is a presentation from January this year, given by Debra Askanase, creator of Community Organiser 2.0, at the New England Press and Newspaper Assosciation’s

I found her fourth point most interesting.

It is a well-known fact that social media has had a huge impact on the way in which news is shared, with people using twitter, facebook and other sites to post links to articles that hold a certain interest to them.  However, social media has also affected the way the news is actually created.

The news cycle is made up of four stages: breaking news, context, analysis and archival.


According to Askanase, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs contribute to the shorter breaking news cycle, in which context is added to news stories. Users of those sites can provide input by commenting, re-tweeting,  or uploading a video of their own experiences. So many of us have probably contributed to the news cycle without even knowing it.

The best example I can give you is the Queensland Floods in early 2011, and although it was quite some time ago now, the changing news cycle was demonstrated perfectly. The Queensland Police Service’s Facebook page became a place where people from many affected areas could share their experience of the flood, providing information the media may not have had access to otherwise.Youtube was flooded with videos of cars being swept away, houses torn down and people rowing down flooded streets. Many of these home videos were then used by television news companies, for weeks (and even months) to come.

In addition, Google search, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogging and Flickr help with the staying power, as well as the archival stage, making it incredibly easy to find ‘old’ news on the internet.

It is clear that through social media, anyone can comment on, contribute to or argue against breaking news stories. In turn, this may help journalists working on a news story to gather widespread information quickly, and possibly refocus their angle.


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10 Reasons Why Online Journalists Are Better Than Journalists

The Online Journalism Review has published an article, written by Emily Henry, listing 10 reasons why online journalists are better than journalists. You can read it here:

Henry has some good points. Specifically, she firstly states online journalists are better because they are fighting to be here. 

“Online news is still figuring out how to pay for itself, and hiring journalists is a substantial investment in a world where information is largely free.”

John Grey, former online editor of The Courier Mail, recently spoke to my Online Journalism class about the different models of online journalism. For example, the Herald Sun is trialling the freemium model.

Right now, news companies are accumulating their online readership, who are no doubt attracted by the ease of access, and the fact that it is free. However, in the future these companies will need to make money somehow, and by then their audience will be so accustomed to getting their news online it is unlikely they would leave just because a small fee is imposed. Alternatively, news maw continue to be free and the revenue may come from adverts.

I also think her seventh point, that online journalists are everywhere at once, is incredibly true. Journalists are now able to use WiFi to post pictures and content immediately, and through the use of twitter and live comment feeds, the audience pretty much has news on demand.

Another point is that online journalists are held accountable immediately. This, to me, is wonderful. I detest nothing more than reading an article with an error, because the only apology the journalist gives is in a teeny tiny retraction in the next newspaper. It has become very clear to me in the past few years that journalists are not exactly praised for what they do (sad, but true). However, I believe online journalists have the power to change that. If they know they are going to be held accountable, immediately, for any discrepancy in their reporting, perhaps they will strive for perfection. We’ll see.

However, I am not satisfied with one of Henry’s points. She argues that online journalists are better writers, because

“SEO will not allow us to write vague headlines or use bad puns, and we only have the attention our audience for about three blinks, so we have to practice all of George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing at once.”

I think Henry needed to present more of an argument on this point. Saying that online journalists are ‘better writers’ is quite a big statement to make, and needs more backup than a sentence.

All in all, it’s an interesting article.

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A new-found appreciation for Apps


Pulse is described on Google Play as “a beautiful application that makes reading news fun and engaging.” However, I’m concerned that it is more of an all-in-one entertainment app, rather than an app specifically designed for the delivery of news.

I personalized my screen to show Time, the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, the Huffington Post, Fox News, Sky News and The Guardian.  After clicking on a certain article, you have the option to read a version edited to fit the screen, or view the original article.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough news sources for my liking and you can only add website from Pulse’s own catalogue. However, there are various sub-headings, such as food, art and design, politics, technology, science, lifestyle, entertainment, as well as news.

Perhaps I’ll use this app more to access Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Fine Cooking, and (of course) I Can Has Cheeseburger.

World Newspapers

Wow.  On first glance, the home page looks bland and boring – as a result I was not expecting anything special from this app. However, I simply had to click on the ‘local’ tab, and I was provided a list of all the news I could ever need! (slight exaggeration, but you get the gist…)


However, I have been left a little disappointed by the app’s version of the Courier Mail.


See the difference between the Brisbane Times (left) and the Courier Mail (right)?

The Brisbane Times is sharp, clean, simple. It fits nicely on the screen, with simple font in a decent size and a constant colour scheme. It looks familiar. It is, in short, exactly what I want from a news app.

The Courier Mail, on the other hand, is a mess. Just from the screen shot alone, I’m sure you can see there is a huge difference. I find it unattractive and difficult to maneuver – the font is far too small, and there appears to be little to no formatting. It also annoys me that nothing on the app reminds me that I am, in fact, reading the Courier Mail.

Over the past week I have perused many, many, many of the ‘World Newspapers’ and I have two things to report:

  1. Yes, I have become slightly obsessed with this app.
  2. The Courier Mail is in the minority as far as layout and accessibility goes. The rest of the app is fantastic.

What I love about this app is that I literally have access to the newspapers from all over the world. The name ‘World Newspapers’ is spot on. Users have the option of selecting a continent, country, and newspaper – easy as that. Of course, some of these newspapers are not in English.

I decided to try Aamulehti, from Finland. Honestly , I have no clue what it says. But I can appreciate the clean layout, the eye-catching pictures and the overall attractiveness of the page. It would seem that World Newspapers has created an attractive, effective and accessible and app that can be used internationally… it is a shame that the Courier Mail has somehow drawn the short straw.


So, there you have it. World Newspapers has become my go-to app for News (although, I’ll still be using Pulse for some easy-reading entertainment).

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The Courier Mai…

The Courier Mail’s home page editor, Dave Earley, recently spoke to the Online Journalism class about the need to grow and maintain an online readership. He considered the reasons more and more people are getting their news from online sources: they use the internet to access up-to-the-minute news, instantly, and in short bursts, as opposed to relaxing with the Sunday paper.

I was quite shocked to learn that according to a recent World Bank report, 75% of the world now has easier access to a mobile phone than to a bank, electricity or clean water. Dave explained that because of this growth in mobile phone usage, news Apps are playing a greater role in journalism than ever before.

I have used my mobile phone on occasion to access the websites of news organisations, but each time I have struggled to navigate through the website on my tiny little screen. As a result, I usually accept defeat and read the newspaper instead. I think I shall have a look at some of these Apps – I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Since I was around 10 years old, I have dreamed of becoming a journalist for The Australian. I pictured my articles printed on the front page, underneath my very own by-line. However, through my studies at QUT it has become apparent my view of journalism is quite outdated. This ‘behind-the-times’ mindset carries over into my everyday life, which is somewhat of an oddity for my age group.

I have always eschewed technology with a firm hand. This is because I have found ways to live my life and complete the tasks required of me, and they work so well I feel no need to change them. As a result, I write essay drafts by hand and I get my news from the newspaper, as opposed to online. I also prefer the old, reliable Nokia brick to my shiny new HTC, as it does not need to be constantly updated for applications (which, to me, are useless) to function properly. Simple… but not efficient.

The face of journalism is changing, and I have come to realise that if I am to call myself a journalist I must adapt and change with it. News consumers have access to the news 24 hours a day – they no longer have to wait for the morning paper, or the 6 o’clock evening news. Anyone with access to the internet, whether it be through a computer, laptop, mobile device or iPad, has the ability to access news (almost) instantaneously. Newspaper readership has noticeably declined since news companies have become prominent in the online world. News consumers do not even need to log onto a computer to get their news; in fact, studies have shown that audiences are spending more time on their mobile phones reading news than on computers.

In the past, news consumers read the news, and occasionally wrote letters to the editor. Now, thanks to impressive technological advancements, anyone can create a blog, write a tweet, or comment on an online article. Anyone with a camera, camera phone, or new generation iPad is able to take a picture and send it to a news organisation with the click of a button. Audiences are not only reading the news, they are influencing, commenting and generating the news. In my opinion, journalism has become more of a multi-faceted process, as opposed to a one-way flow of information.

I still claim to miss the days when my golden retriever delivered the Sunday Mail to the kitchen for me to read over breakfast. However, I will admit it is mostly nostalgia. The ability to access the news – to have it at my fingertips – while waiting in line for a coffee or on the bus is priceless.

It certainly is an interesting time to be a journalist.


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