Facebook 4 Journalists

I asked a question online last week during the BBC Social Media Summit, but Neiman Lab beat me to answering it. The question was, “what would it mean to use Facebook as a professional journalist?” I also attempted an answer, that the journalist can attain this feat by being as personal as possible without breaching his/her privacy boundaries, as well as keeping the functions of journalism in mind.

The highlight of  the event for me however, was when Paul Bradshaw, a professor at Birmingham City University, tweeted at me that my question on the BBC Social Media Summit, inspired him to set up a Facebook page  (an online journalism blog on Fb for 1 month) in order to experiment on how a journalist can engage with Facebook professionally. I am a follower of the page.

The BBC Social Summit raised a lot of critical questions, and I learnt a great deal. However, I spent a huge part of the learning process trying to constructively apply the arguments and discussions to the African situation. The fact that discussions on this summit were stirred towards application within the context of their developed society, made it tough to relate the proposed solutions/strategies to the African journalism situation.

This could only mean that African media experts also need to form a round table to discuss ways in which social media can be effectively applied to journalism within the context of our own situation. Social media is changing the face of how journalism is being practiced globally.

By virtue of high technology adoption rates, developed nations were not quite prepared for what hit them when the internet and social media began to spread like wild fire. I attended a conference in 2009, that expressed how perplexed practitioners and academics were at the change of events- it was dubbed ‘Is World Journalism is Crisis?’ @ Coventry University, UK.

Despite being caught somewhat unawares, the United Kingdom (media) is still trying to make sense of the situation even as they go along by encouraging more journalists to adopt the platform and proffer solutions to where there are crises.

Africa has the following advantages:

1. of gradually slipping into the social media age through gradual adoption of communication technologies, thereby having the opportunity for better preparation

2. of not having to re-invent the wheel because developed societies have and are still facing the challenges the African sphere would most likely face as the adoption rates increase e.g newspapers huge loss of the advertising man’s dollar to online contemporaries

The essence of education is to seek knowledge and apply it.

I think its high time practicing journalists and media academics in African universities organised a summit to tackle social media & journalism just like the BBCSMS, only that this time, we would be a step ahead by planning for the future and not trying to cope with the ‘now’.

I am making this call. Let him that has an ear, hear 😀

The Media Junkie

P.S. CP-Africa today, features an interview with Tolu Ogunlesi, a Nigerian journalist, on Journalism in the Age of Social Media <—- that is what I am talking about!

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5 thoughts on “Facebook 4 Journalists

  1. So I think the basic or foundational challenge is that the wave of developments, particularly in social media was not initiated by the Media World. It was brought about without any regard to the ethos of the media. So journalism is dealt the wrong hand of working through a parameter it did not define from the outset. That’s a tough call!

    However, since you are interested in Africa-specific adoption of new media technologies, the issue I will like to raise is on Academic Pro-activeness in Social Media adoption for Journalism. I was at Syracuse University sometime in January 2010, speaking with a German Professor of Policy whose focus was on how Social Media Affects public Policy. I was surprised the extent to which the department was invested in understanding the phenomenon of social media and were trying to project the trajectories of its future applications.

    Sadly, we in Africa are merely reactive to such major developments. It is necessary that our academia takes a hold of things and start building courses out of the concept and ensure that they are training competent minds to be be active in the continuous development of global media technologies. Sigh!

    • Tomi Ola says:

      I could not agree less with you The Calabarboy. Mapping Africa’s future in social media application has a lot to do with us first of all revamping our universities’ course content. There is need for an upgrade.

  2. 1960standard says:

    I like your perspective and comment on the need to revamp the universities,like your other arguments,the idea of trying to fix a unit of our society to restore dignity is a white wash in my view.
    The African society is shouldered with a deeper issue that threatens our existence,the seeming inability of the media to take necessary steps to consolidate on the gains of new technology is not any less a surprise for some of us.
    A society that has lost its sense of direction hence misplaces its priorities,we have not been able to justify the reason for poverty in our nations,we cannot explain why the laws don’t work,we cannot give closure to the contentious attempt to force development in a society so corrupt;it defy every known political definition. Africa has failed in leadership hence the inability to function in media etel is a reflection of that failure. From health to education,transport,power,jobs,economy etc,african countries and leaders fail to put the nation first. You do no expect results other than what we see. The fundamentals of leadership and administration are wrong in Africa,we need to use the little life left via social media to fight and re awaken the dying mind of the youths and call for a stampede of corruption. The arab world discovered a new way,it was not the presumed dialogue driven by the corruption and manipulative tendencies of their leaders,its was street kings.
    Until Africans realize that corruption is systemic and there can be no development amidst corruption,we would continue to wallow in the trail and error stage of development. I am optimistic however that the social media would play a vital role in the coming change in africa. It just did by this expression I made.
    God help us all.

  3. kassim abdulwahab says:

    which countre there u come from?

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