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!