Thursday, 5 November 2009

Media140’s live stream started in silence before sounds kicked in at about 8.50am (NSW time; all times given here will be NSW time). And what did we hear? A sound guy tests the mic over the top of some ambient music.

In the Twitter hashtag we learn about all the peeps converging on the event – by taxi, by bus, on the elevator, down the stairs – and also plaintive tweets from some who are unable to attend.

Wish I was headed to #media140 today. Will have to geek up double hard tomorrow. - @neilwrites

oh no, so many emails this morning and so behind schedule for #media140 hope I don't miss much! - @ suzieis

Arrived at the #media140 centre of the universe at ABC Sydney. The coffee is a lifesaverlp - @ derekbarry we commute to #media140 is short. 14 floors. Speaking at 9.10 - @abcmarkscott

‘The autumn leaves drift by my window/The autumn leaves of red and gold/I see your face like summer kisses/Since you went away the days grow long/And soon I’ll hear a ... /But I miss you most my darling/ When they start to fall ...’

Mood music for the frazzled, 9am crowd busy chatting, getting-to-know, and slurping on cappuccinos.

Hashed events are a good way to find like-minded peeps, and follow them. I find there’re always a lot of follow-me-too exchanges during these events.

And at 9.05am the voice starts up at Eugene Goosens Hall, in Ultimo. Fran Kelly, host of the conference, introduces Andy Gregson at 9.10am – he’s a Brit!

A phone call from a friend stopped me listening to Mark Scott, the opening speaker, but I maximised the benefit of my time away by eating a banana. Scott makes lots of noises about commitment to social media, widgets, tax-payers and free access. “Getting the content out to the audience in a form they want, where they want it.”

Online viewer count: 221.

Scott takes questions, including one suggesting putting the Twitter feed at the back of the studio during the ABC’s popular talk program, Q&A.

At 10am Julie Posetti gets up and slams old media – “fiddling while Rome burns”, “bent on controlling”, “sloppy journalism that bordered on propaganda” – and says that anyone can call themselves a journalist. But “credibility will be critical ...”

‘Objectivity’ – SLAM. ‘Trench warfare’ – SLAM. ‘Hamstrung by fear’ – SLAM.

Posetti has been “formally” studying social media and journalism for eight months, and her Twitter summary here (the rising power of social media is a news “cliché”) reflects her work, establishes her credentials.

‘A lot of ignorance and arrogance’ – SLAM. ‘Isn’t Twitter just a platform for narcissism and banality?’ – SLAM.

Twitter is a publication platform, Posetti asserts. Correct.

The biggest detractors among the journalists who have interviewed Posetti in recent months are not on Twitter, she says.

Posetti says Twitter is not a replacement for long-form and investigative journalism. It’s “one of the new essential tools” in the journalist’s “kitbag”. It is a “live contact book”, too. “Journalism is a conversation” and intelligent conversations are happening on Twitter between journalists and sources.

“Journalists are making profitable connections” and are “broadening their horizons”.

All of this is true and needs to be said, but I’m thinking that I want stories. I want the colour and the texture of real activities being undertaken in this new “public space”.

“Accuracy and verification are the antidotes to an overdose on speed.”

‘Trafigura’ – SLAM. ‘Democracy’ – SLAM.

10.40am – 289 online viewers.

Julie Posetti : ‘Objectivity’ – SLAM. Fran Kelly: “Is journalism a profession or a practice?” “What is the fact-checking mechanism?”

More phone calls.

11.55am – 344 online viewers.

Paul Cutler, head of news at SBS gave an interesting talk but, as usual, I had to wait until the name appeared in the twitterstream before I knew who it was speaking. Online video stream #Fail.

FFS Twitter is not journalism, it's a circle jerk to see who gets some gossip of the latest cause célèbre. #media140 - @jonoabroad (Jonathan Ferguson; ‘geek living in Sydney’).

Dr Jason Wilson from Wollongong University speaks. Rhetoric around Twitter resembles what has greeted all new media technologies that have ever appeared. And the “Twitter user base is not as inclusive as we like to think”, so the idea of Twitter ‘democratising’ the media is not a given. Some people are excluded, poor Iranian farmers who support Ahmedinejad, for example.

Camera gets stuck on Jason Wilson, who drinks from his water bottle repeatedly. Poor guy!

Two “very quick questions” come from a New Zealand academic. Hang on, these are not quick questions!

Malcolm Turnbull joins Fran Kelly at 12.30pm (388 viewers). Does he do all his own tweeting? Tommy Tudehope, an assistant, does some of his tweeting, he says. He has 50,000 people on an email list, which he says is one of the biggest ones around. He responds to hundreds of emails each week but doesn’t do a lot of one-to-one correspondence on Twitter.

Essentially, Turnbull uses Twitter as a tool of political communication. He doesn’t tweet personal things. Turnbull has a sense of humour!

Are journalists engaging with Turnbull via Twitter? Hmm, we don’t get a very good answer to this question. Yes, Malcolm, of course all journalists live somewhere and therefore are someone’s constituent.

Politicians are the quarry, journalists are the hunters. Twitter correspondence: “An online press conference.” “Better off pre-advertising it so a lot of people can be aware.” Control the message – this is what he means.

Twitter partly about going over the heads of journalists, Turnbull admits. He says Twitter is only the medium, not the message. “The critical thing, though, is the message.” Yawn.

Anyone can be a broadcaster, he thinks. He quotes Murdoch: “The Internet will destroy more profitable businesses than it creates.” I ask a question (that doesn’t get asked): Anyone can be broadcaster, but not all have leisure (money) to investigate. Costs to be a journalist.

Would love the hear the answer to this one from – if not Turnbull, then some panellist today or tomorrow.

Consistency is vitally important, says Turnbull; you need to publish the same message on all platforms. “The message has to be consistent.” Controlling the message, again.

Turnbull doesn’t follow Kevin Rudd on Twitter. Surprise!

He says ‘discipline” again in the context of politics. Is politics, then, like the armed forces or a sports team? More control of messge.

1.10pm – 371 online viewers.

“I’m in the communication business.” “I’m a bit ambivalent about” Joe Hockey tweeting in Parliament. “I won’t cast judgement on others.” “It’s important for me to be very much focused on what’s happening in the House.” “We’re only limited by our technological imagination.” So many ‘killer apps’ “just died”.

His guiding star for what works on the Internet? OK, he thinks, time to control the message. “People want freedom, they want more choice.” 17,000 people following Turnbull on Twitter. He went over the friend limit in Facebook, so moved to a fan page.

As Fran Kelly says, it’s pretty decent of Turnbull to turn up to a social media gabfest. But nothing really stretched him. It’s not that he looked too ‘at-ease’, just that he managed to easily sidestep the (very) few curly questions coming from the audience.

Lunch – one hour.

What do I remember most about this morning?

Someone – one of the panellists – said something like ‘We can’t have a journalist sitting out in the back room working on a story for three months – and failing.” Translation: we can’t afford to do a lot of investigative journalism, because it’s expensive and doesn’t pay its way.

This implies that newspapers routinely ‘fill’ space with ‘easy’ journalism that ‘does the job’ or is ‘good enough’ but which doesn’t ask tough questions. Are newspapers afraid of making enemies or are they just too concerned – for our good – about the cost of copy. Fewer journalists = overworked as they try to fill the ‘hole’= less time spent researching stories.

Back from lunch – Julian Morrow, ex-Chaser lead, announced prizewinners.

More phone calls.

Caroline Overington: Fairfax is “in a shocking state”. Overington works for Fairfax competitor, News Ltd.

More phone calls.

Chris Warren @mediaalliance: ethical journalism has always been a fundamental struggle. #media140 (@pinglo Thinking social media for Aunty ABC. These ramblings are mine & not those of the ABC.)

Future of journalists as curators, sifters and researchers, rather than creators of content...? #media140 (via @acatinatree) @burntsugar (tweet from @RSColley; IT Trainer. IT student.; Melbourne)

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