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Dwight Silverman – Social media takes media/audience relationships to a new level April 17, 2009

Posted by Samantha D in symposium.
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Dwight Silverman, interactive journalism editor for the Houston Chronicle, spoke of the power of twitter and blogging in forging stronger relationships between the media and the audience.

Silverman attributed the excitement over Twitter to it being the “ultimate overheard conversation in a bar”, and praised its ability to assist journalists in gathering research, getting feedback and facilitating communication in the news process.

Silverman monitors the Chronicle’s blogging initiatives and use of Twitter.

The Houston Chronicle began its staff blogs in 2004, and a year later started their reader blogging initiative Chron.commons. The site now hosts over 160 reader blogs.  Silverman dismissed allegations that blogging was dead, saying that ther transition from staff to reader blogs was a “metamorphosis” but they are now “taking it to the next level” by blending the work of staff and reader bloggers who write about the same things.

Silverman used the exampe of the Chronicle’s science blog Sci Guy (Eric Berger) to highlight the power of blogging in developing relationships with readers and other online communities. SciGuy covers science and weather in Houston, and has established a healthy community of scientist followers and commentators. To capitalise on this following, The Chronicle gave these scientists their own blogs which now form part of SciGuy, allowing readers to engage and examine sources for themselves.

“By indicating that they are scientists and not journalists, they add another level of reportage that we wouldn’t otherwise have had,” said Silverman.

The Houston Chronicle is also experimenting with pulling in raw feeds from twitter and other social media sources. Silverman said they tried out the concept in their coverage of Obama’s inaugaration earlier this year. Rather than sending journalists to report on the event, they pulled in live feeds, blogs, photos and Twitter feeds.

Silverman said that their use of raw feeds and user input in the coverage was part of the Chronicle’s attempt to “take this all to the next level, and look at the relationships that media has with readers and sources.”

He concluded his address by praising the i-phone  and its applications which allows a two way conversation between the media and the audience and is a platform from which video, photos and ideas can be exchanged.

“The i-phone has profound implicaitons for media companies,” said Silverman. “All journalists within the media should have one.”

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1. The Twitters tell the story « Charlotte-Anne Lucas - April 23, 2009

[...] to some extraordinary panelists: NowPublic News Director Rachel Nixon, Paul Brannan of the BBC, chron.com Interactive Editor Dwight Silverman and statesman.com Internet Editor Robert Quigley, the “audience-as-storyteller” muse [...]


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