Social Media: News about social media that matters to journalism. Written by Jeff Sonderman. Suggest a story.

Twitter image preview can be either interesting or maddening.

Twitter image preview either interesting or maddening

Remember when Twitter was just a 140-character microblogging platform?

The service today added in-line images and videos to timelines accessed via and Twitter’s mobile apps. Depending on how many accounts you follow, this new ability to view image previews without clicking or tapping a link could save you some time and make your feed more visually interesting — or make it maddeningly longer to scroll through.

Curiously, the image previews can be turned off on mobile devices (they’re turned on by default), but not on the Twitter site. We’ll have to see how the change — which affects only images uploaded directly to Twitter or videos posted to Twitter-owned Vine — impacts engagement with tweets.

A recent study showed images were 94 percent more likely to be retweeted than other images were, a homefield advantage that could grow larger because poor Instagram and Facebook are left out of Twitter’s image preview game. Read more


Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013

John Boehner

News orgs could have done a better job tweeting shutdown news

Every editor should know how a bill becomes a law — but no editor should assume every reader does. That’s why some of the breaking news tweets before and during the government shutdown were incomplete and potentially misleading.

I made this point before, after the Chelsea Manning verdict: We must choose completeness over succinctness when tweeting breaking news, especially if it’s complex breaking news that’s easily misunderstood.

First, let’s go back to Sept. 27, when the budget drama was heating up:

I’m picking on the big guys here because they have the largest audiences and their tweets travel the farthest. Read more


Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013


Radio show seeks funding to uncover undercovered America

A few days before the government shutdown, the former co-host of “The Takeaway” launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $92,000 for an independent radio show covering the often-ignored world between the two coasts.

But because of the Washington stalemate, the fundraising campaign to produce a show that’s not about the Beltway was canceled — for now.

“Believe me, the irony is not lost,” Celeste Headlee said.

Several factors prompted the suspension of the campaign, Headlee said, including problems filing paperwork with closed government offices and the busy schedules of people helping to develop the show who are also covering the shutdown.

Really, it was just bad timing, Headlee said.

The campaign relaunches on Oct. 25, with a push to raise the money needed to independently produce the hour-long news show and podcast called “Middle Ground.” The show’s producers will be asking for less money, too — down to $59,000 with the decision to seek three months’ funding instead of six. Read more


Thursday, Mar. 07, 2013


Twitter research shows how multimedia increases engagement

To update an old saying for the Twitter era: A picture is worth a thousand characters.

Research by Twitter shows that tweets that include a photo or video receive 3 to 4 times more engagement (retweets, replies, etc.) than those that don’t. Read more


Friday, Dec. 21, 2012

‘Frictionless sharing’ is an instructive failure of 2012

Two of the news organizations that led the push into social reader Facebook apps are retooling their products, and Facebook itself is signaling that it’s time to leave behind the “frictionless sharing” experiment.

The Washington Post has extended its Social Reader — the app whose name went on to define the genre — outside of the Facebook environment and onto the open Web at At the same time, it introduced more privacy controls over the sharing of a user’s reading activity, and enabled users to follow specific topics they enjoy reading about.

Meanwhile, the Guardian closed its social reading app altogether. “We are now focusing on building intent-driven sharing prompts and will not simply share your reading and viewing activity,” product manager Anthony Sullivan told me by email.

That means The Guardian will focus on getting readers to explicitly choose to share content or react to content. It’s a refined concept of “social participation,” Sullivan writes:

In the future, for example, users on our site may be able to “agree” or “disagree” with comment pieces, take part in polls or express their view on the likelihood of a football rumour coming true.

Read more

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012


When to go fast, when to go slow on social media

Reuters | Nieman Lab
Ben Walsh writes that his unfiltered Twitter stream “was basically unusable as an information source” during the Newtown school shooting.

Because he follows so many journalists and news organizations, his timeline repeated the same facts over and over. Twitter, he says, “has developed its own news cycle” that occurs predictably in any big news event and drowns out originality.

Broadly speaking, it goes like so:

1. New facts are reported and quickly repeated.
2. Reactions are added.
3. Commentary is layered on.
4. Those original facts are amended, corrected, or invalidated.
5. Forcefully folksy explainers and lists of “The [Insert Number Here] Facts You Need to Know” are published.
6. Conventional wisdom is formed so that it can be…
7. Ideologically challenged, wonkishly debunked, and expertly analyzed.
8. Infographics appear.
9. The medium is truly, fully saturated.

Let me pause here to add two footnotes:

  1. This is, as Walsh acknowledges, a #firstworldproblem faced mostly by power users and the news-obsessed; and
  2. This information-overload phenomenon is just one of many side effects that may come from surrounding yourself with too many journalists (others include: gluttonous alcohol consumption, desensitization to human suffering and overinflated self-importance).
Read more
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Monday, Dec. 17, 2012


Newtown response shows perils of requesting interviews on Twitter

Any journalist who’s had to ask grieving loved ones for an interview in the wake of a tragedy will tell you, it’s one of the hardest parts of her job.

It’s also one of the most difficult requests for non-journalists to understand.

In such uncomfortable situations, we often seek comfort in rules and guidelines that may tell us how to act. But each tragedy is unique, and the people and emotions involved are never the same.

There are no rules to save you. In the end there are just two human beings — a journalist and a potential source — trying to figure out what feels right.

Sometimes, people welcome journalists. They value the chance to share their stories and grief with the community, that others may remember the victim’s life, feel the loss and do what little they can to help.

But other times, they don’t. The emotions are too overwhelming. Read more


Friday, Dec. 14, 2012


News orgs circulate Facebook profile, photos of man who wasn’t the shooter

Reporters and producers around the country, frantically searching for information online about the alleged school shooter, found what seemed like a match. Ryan Lanza, 24, was believed responsible for the deaths of 27 people in Newtown, Conn., at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Facebook profile showed a Ryan Lanza from Newtown, Conn., who currently lives in Hoboken, N.J. — a male who looks like he’s in his 20s. The photo fit the description, so countless news orgs ran with it in stories and tweets.

Problem is, it was the wrong guy.

Hours later, there were reports that Adam Lanza, 20, was the shooter, not his brother Ryan. The AP’s latest report explains that “earlier, a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers’ first names.” reported that “former Jersey Journal staff writer Brett Wilshe said he has spoken with Ryan Lanza of Hoboken, who told Wilshe the shooter may have had his identification.” Read more


Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

What the world population is doing on smartphones and social networks

In the past year, American cell phone owners became more likely to use the Internet on their phones (51 percent, up from 43 percent in 2011) and capture pictures or videos (67 percent, up from 57 percent).

That’s one insight from the 2012 edition of the annual Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project survey, which studied how people in 21 countries are using mobile and social media.

86 percent of U.S. adults now own some kind of cell phone, according to the survey. About half of those people use one to access the Internet.

Majorities of U.S. smartphone users are regularly looking up consumer information (64 percent), accessing social networks (60 percent), getting political news (54 percent) and getting work-related information (54 percent).

The rest of the world’s smartphone users are less likely to use them for consumer information, political news and work information (43 to 46 percent do so), but slightly more likely to use them for social media (64 percent). Read more

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Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Twitter-Instagram photo war reveals new business realities of social networks

The photo-sharing turf war is escalating, with Twitter copying Instagram-like features and Instagram (owned by Facebook) no longer making its photos viewable within tweets.

No matter which company wins, users will lose.

It seems time to just accept that Facebook and Twitter’s forget-about-money-and-put-users-first startup phase is over. Both companies are pivoting hard toward monetization and market-share protection as their primary goals.

Promoted tweets and sponsored stories are filling up timelines and news feeds. Facebook Page owners are relentlessly pestered to fork over cash for better visibility of their posts. And third-party developers are increasingly being disempowered.

The networks have shifted focus from creating value to capturing value. And to capture value, they each feel the need to lock users into their own platforms and reduce integration, thus limiting competition.

A quick history of the photo-sharing wars

In 2011, Twitter launched its own photo hosting and sharing service, rather than rely on third parties like Yfrog or Twitpic. Read more

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