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Noteworthy information 10: Questions for the new era

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To help us prepare for scholastic journalism’s new era, let’s look at the 10 roles exercise recently outlined by the Center for Scholastic Journalism. Instead of thinking of the roles in terms of print media, let’s project the roles into the future and discuss them in terms of scholastic media’s use of social media.

And, since no one has definite answers for these uses, let’s look at potential uses in terms of questions  for future discussion.

• Should scholastic media be involved in branding? If we are heavily involved in branding are we, by nature of the media, becoming more interested in advertising and public relations than objective reporting?

• What is the best role in student media for social media: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google groups  etc)? It is branding? Is it letting our audiences know what we do doing and what to expect? Is it reporting breaking informtion? Is it some combination? What are the plusses and minuses of each in terms of mission, role legal standards and ethics? You might take a look at the issues raised by Mike Wise, sports commentator of radio and The Washington Post when he knowingly posted false information on his Twitter site. Later, he railed at those who did not factcheck. That may be, but what is his responsibility? Today The Post suspended Wise for a month, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Wise told his morning radio audience. Poynter covered the event, including reference to the Post’s ombudsman’s comments.

• What is your forum role for online media? Should your students moderate comments or allow them at all? Should they be limited to just students?  From the CSJ blog: “Remember, if your existing letters policy says, in the first sentence, you are a forum and encourage letters (comment) but in the next sentence says you will edit for length and clarity, or moderate for this and that, are you really being “open”? Even if you add the phrase “without changing the meaning,” is that possible to do? If I wrote an 800-word letter and you cut it to 400, even if YOU don’t think you changed my meaning, I’ll bet I would think you did. And if the policy says you will edit for “good taste” or even correct mistakes, have you limited my expression?” Or, is there a developing standard that will allow the forum but still enable free expression?

• If we look to use social media for coverage, what kind of story works best? Worst? What kind of story (assuming your students have already outlined their roles using the framework provided by the CSJblog) is most crucial to the role of the medium?

• Can promotion and objective coverage realistically come from the same use of a single social media outlet (Twitter, Facebook)? Should our students mix opinion and objective reporting using the same outlet?

•It has been said that reporting on the web is probably not the place for depth and longform reporting. What evidence supports this? Can we find evidence that depth and longform flourish on the web? An excellent read from Nieman Journalism Lab suggests some dangers of thinking in terms of “quick find” terms on news searches like Google News and others.

• What is optimal length for web stories? Why? Practioners do not all agree that short (someone suggested 250 words) is better? Take a look at respectied news websites.

• In using social media, what are the roles for breaking news, verification and perspective. Are these inherently contradictory? Should we view one as more important than others? How should each come across in our teaching?

We’d love to see a discussion get started here, on JEA’s listserv, on JEA’s Digital Media site or on any other site open to all advisers.

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