Kelly Fincham


Kelly teaches journalism at Hofstra University at undergrad and graduate level. She has worked in journalism in the U.S, Ireland and Australia for 30 years and has spoken about journalism at conferences in Canada, the U.S., Scotland and Ireland. Her research agenda explores the intersection of social media in journalism practice and curriculum. She is the founder of Hofstra’s Long Island Report and the founding editor of You can visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @KellyFincham.

Wall Street Twitter IPO

24 hours of immigration reform reporting on Twitter

President Obama’s executive action on immigration provoked a predictable political storm on Twitter, with politicians, pundits and the perennially opinionated staking out their positions.  A Twitter visualization shows tweets peaked at about 9,500 tweets a minute during the president’s White House speech on Thursday, Nov. 20. But while the social media platform heaved under the weight of immigration-related tweets, immigration journalists were relatively quiet.

How quiet? A survey of 34 national immigration reporters’ Twitter feeds returned a total of 913 tweets in the 24 hours starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20. This is in comparison to the 384,999 #immigration tweets which were posted in just two hours between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 20.

The original list of 34 reporters was compiled with the help of Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of the immigration rights group America’s Voice and included well-known immigration reporters such as NPR’s Mara Liasson and Julia Preston from The New York Times. Read more

Bird words

How to do Twitter research on a shoestring

Twitter’s increasingly influential role in journalism has prompted an accompanying upsurge in academic research, particularly around the ways in which journalists and media organizations have integrated Twitter into their norms and practices.

With 500 million tweets a day, Twitter offers researchers a potentially deep and rich stream of social media data. However, unlike historical newspaper content, which is readily available via library microfiches or databases like Lexis Nexis, much of the historical data on Twitter (what’s called the Twitter firehose) is walled off in costly private archives.

Information may want to be free, but accessing and analyzing that information can be costly.

The Library of Congress signed a deal with Twitter in 2010 to build an on-site research archive but that system has still not been finalized. Read more


How to keep a student news site updated with RebelMouse

Preparing students for journalism careers in the 21st century requires that they learn to use systems that are new to many journalism faculty — a conclusion underscored by a 2012 report from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, which concluded that the typical newsroom process is “almost entirely anachronistic” and “must be rethought.”

However, many small programs are held back by a lack of funds or knowledge about digital systems and how to create them. And even if a platform is built, faculty advisers still struggle with the lulls of student publishing. If you’re a faculty adviser to a student news site, you’re probably now preparing for three months of hibernation when students leave for the summer, content dries up and sites go dormant. Read more

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What every young journalist should know about using Twitter

Young journalists have a lot to teach the rest of the industry about how to use social networking sites. They grew up with these sites, and many are eager to use them in the workplace.

But as a journalism educator, I’ve found that some students don’t take Twitter seriously enough; they don’t see it as a legitimate source for news or journalism, and they tweet whatever they want, not realizing the impact that tweets can have.

Twitter is taken very seriously at many different levels. The Secret Service, for example, responded to a high schooler’s tweet earlier this month after she made a reference to assassinating President Barack Obama. And last week, the Kansas Chiefs’ official Twitter account issued an apology after insulting a fan.

So how can professors best prepare their students for the Twittersphere? Read more


7 ways journalists can make better ethical decisions when using Facebook

Journalists using Facebook as a reporting tool have likely faced some ethical questions about what is and isn’t appropriate — particularly when it comes to the information they post and the way they interact with sources on the site.

For some insight, I talked with several journalists — including The Wall Street Journal’s Liz Heron and Breaking News’ Lauren McCullough — for advice on how to avoid ethical issues on Facebook. Here are seven related tips.

Keep your audience’s trust in mind

When using social networks, journalists should keep this question top of mind: Could this action affect my audience’s trust in me?

“What matters is whether or not your audience feels it can trust you or not,” Anjali Mullany, social media editor at Fast Company, said in an email interview. Read more


How journalism educators can use Coursekit to enhance classroom learning

Coursekit is a new learning management system aimed at professors who want something more than the traditional Blackboard experience. Some journalism professors call the free site — which integrates social media and course content — a Facebook for academia. Students like it, too.

CEO and Co-founder Joseph Cohen, 20, said in a phone interview that the site was designed with students in mind because “we were students ourselves until last year.” Cohen has postponed his studies in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania to concentrate on his new business.

Coursekit, which was launched out of beta two months ago, enables professors to email students, post content, grade assignments, post notes, comments, Q&As etc. The syllabus can be posted as text, a standalone document or into the calendar section so students (and professors) can see exactly what is coming up. Read more

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Journalists connect the dots between data & reporting at Columbia J-school hackathon

Data journalism was recently singled out by an Online News Association panel in New York as one of the core skills for journalists. Students and journalists, however, often admit to being intimidated by data and coding.

British computer programmers Julian Todd and Francis Irving are on a mission to help journalists make friends with data.

Todd is the chief data scientist and Irving is the CEO of ScraperWiki — a UK-based startup that hosted a two-day journalism data camp at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Feb. 3 and 4.

Aine McGuire with Franics Irving introduce ScraperWiki to the crowd.

The ScraperWiki data camp brought together journalists and coders to work on collaborative projects. The days were divided into three streams. One stream was aimed at teaching journalists about cleaning, analyzing and visualizing data; another explored basic scraping skills for intermediate coders; and the third was aimed at experienced coders. Read more


4 ways journalism educators are using Storify as a teaching tool

More and more news sites have been using Storify to capture reaction and highlight interesting discussions taking place on social networks. And journalism educators have also started using it — to create multimedia course content, organize handouts and teach students how to curate social media.

The tool, which lets users pull together content from various social networks to tell stories, is a one-stop Web publishing shop for even the most technophobic educator.

To organize readings, create handouts

Simply put, you can use Storify to gather up all those “must-read” Web links (which, let’s face it, never get read) and organize them. Like many educators, I use Storify to develop reporting and editing assignments in the classes I teach at Hofstra University. By using Storify, I’ve transformed my out-of-control Instapaper account into topic-specific handouts that I can distribute electronically. Read more