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Is the role of the traditional journalist dead? The new Guardian App asks the public “Do you have a story or a tip-off for us?”

From the past two years I have spent studying PR, I have noticed more than ever the increase of organisations using online platforms to do their jobs and speak with their friends.

The development of new technology has meant that we can practically do anything with an iPhone or Android mobile. Mobile network EE has brought us 4G and, if you are not aware, 4G is now five times faster than 3G, which means you can tweet or watch movies from practically anywhere if you want to.

Now, going hand-in-hand with the development of 4G by EE, I have noticed that The Guardian has started the new era in terms of journalism – ‘crowd sourcing’. By downloading the GuardianWitness app on your smartphone, you can now be given the role of a freelance journalist. With your account, you have the chance to contribute to live news stories and browse through other GuardianWitness users uploads. guardian app

Of course, there is a team working behind it, content is moderated before it is uploaded, which makes the platform more exclusive and perhaps a little more credible. The best stories are then selected and submitted onto the Guardian News website.

By creating “Assignments” listed on the app, it lets the user choose the subject they may be interested in and upload a picture or video, and a suitable caption. All of the assignments are focused on varied subjects; the most controversial and hard hitting at the moment has got to be “The cuts get personal” which features one or the users change jar, with the caption “Once offered to charity, now to make ends meet, the change jar is emptied to pay for groceries.”

Finally, we are on to the “Send us a story section”, which asks “Do you have a story or a tip-off for us?” The publication’s intention for this app has now become questionable. Is this just an easy option to getting to the story first? Or is it just an online community for budding journalists to share their experiences and hopefully see their name on its website? In my opinion, it is a bit of both and personally I can’t wait to upload a picture which suits to a subject I find interesting.

Since the launch in mid-April, GuardianWitness accounts are growing rapidly. Overall, it is a great new way to interact with news and growing media sources to find out what’s happening fast in a visual way.

This was a guest post from Holly Guest.

Update your status and risk being deemed a criminal…

If we have a Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or Google plus accounts, are we instantly deemed criminals?

Following a report from the Guardian.co.uk this could now be the case….

The report was recently carried out by the Government’s chief scientist and highlighted that those of the general public, who are expressing their daily lives online in many different platforms, could be deemed as suspicious individuals who could potentially be stirring up rises such as the London riots.

The report also stated that online communities are isolating and alienating the elderly societies of our country. Does this mean that we have become so involved in our online communities that the reality of real life beyond the computer and the social networks have merged to become one? It seems like the Government have deemed this to be the case. It has suggested that over the next decade our personal identities will undergo, “increasingly dynamic and volatile changes.” The revolution of social media has truly began a dictation of our lives, it seems that Governments have taken notice to the control it posses over us as individuals, more than just a marketing technique, social media has become a part of our everyday lives.

I can’t personally argue with this statement either, I can call myself a little bit of an online addict working with the Prohibition PR team. The first thing I do in the morning….. check the tweets, update a status (if I have anything interesting to say), send an email, pin something on a board on Pinterest and check the latest headlines, all from my iPhone and all with a social element.

The report even suggested that those who don’t have much of a social presence in ‘reality’ can for the first time create their individual personality and express it through social media by connecting with not just the people they actually know, but people all around the globe. It is being deemed the rise of “hyper-connectivity” in which we are all becoming more socially connected online via our Smartphones. So why are those with many different online profiles being deemed suspicious?

The report suggested that, “the idea that there is only a single identity is a fallacy now,” with so many different online social platforms, we have the opportunity to be as many different personas as we choose in order to adapt to the people we are ‘talking’ to. With this comes the opportunity to create more social uprisings in reality such as the London Riots of summer 2011. Social media has given individuals a voice to speak to millions of people on a global scale and send messages that can potentially ruin brands, ideas and people. It has also created a generation divide between the old and the young. Those brought up and into the digital age are using the online world as their key source of communication, and those of the older generation who simply don’t have a clue are being left behind.

However, in my opinion that is just how the world evolves, and this time round we are evolving with social media, it will inevitably create divides between generations. It has also become a choice that everyone has made to sign up to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and following these choices we become responsible for the information we choose to put out to the world, it is simply the way we choose to communicate with our fellow peers. The days of letter writing have died and even newspapers are disappearing as we can find all our sources online, but who says the older generation can’t use this method of communication too?

In order to prevent distancing themselves further from the ever changing world they may have to take the leap into the online revolution and adapt as we always must, because simply at the end of the day, the future won’t slow down for people to catch up. What we can’t fail to ignore is that social media has given people the opportunity to explore their identities more fully, the shy and the recluse have found a form of expression and a way to communicate with others, to me, there is something quite remarkable about that. Social media is the future, it won’t stop growing and we must embrace it, not fear it.

Elton slams Roy Hodgson live on stage in Harrogate

Yesterday, I went to the first ever open air concert staged in the Great Yorkshire Show Grounds in Harrogate. My wife and I went to see Elton John, he was brilliant, performing more than two hours of his back catalogue including the majority of his biggest hits and some of his other more select album choices. I wasn’t sure about attending the event as I like his music but I didn’t know what to expect really – I am more of a dance music fan. As it was the first concert of its size in Harrogate, I was interested to see if he and it could pull in the crowds, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, Elton had been ill the week before with a respiratory illness and he even had to cancel three gigs which was worrying but then he appeared the day before at the Queen’s Jubilee in London.

I could try and write a full music review of the gig but it seems we weren’t the only people in attendance as I came across this review from Dave Simpson of The Guardian. He is its music critic and puts it far better than I could when he describes the scene:

Away from the showbiz and flag-waving of the Mall, this 180-minute marathon is about Elton the musician, exploring his labyrinthine back catalogue. There are songs from 1970s touchstone albums Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Madman Across the Water, unexpected gems (Hey Ahab, from 2010’s critically heralded, so-so-selling album with hero Leon Russell), and classics including a perfect Tiny Dancer and a Rocket Man that now sounds wistful for his days of being “high as a kite”.

Candle in the Wind, famously performed at Princess Diana’s funeral, is played without introduction, the song returning to its original position as moving lament for Marilyn Monroe.

I really enjoyed it all, apart from the expensive sandwiches on sale at £6.80 (what’s that all about?). In my opinion Elton certainly still has the (Sorry Elton) x-factor as a musician. How he still does it so well after such a long career is beyond me but he does and he is still a musical genius. However, the real stand out moment that had me aghast was right at the end in the encore when he decided to share his very clear footballing opinion. I don’t want to misquote the great man, so I will let Dave Simpson quote him he states:

The one moment of controversy is comical, when the former Watford FC chairman debates the England team selections, branding new manager Roy Hodgson a “twat”.

It was Elton’s way of clearly demonstrating his displeasure at the fact Rio had been omitted from the England squad for Euro 2012. He also called Hodgson boring and made it clear he felt Kelly wasn’t anywwhere near as good as Rio. Now I am a Liverpool fan and so I should really side with Kelly but I have to admit, I agree with him. Rio is a far more experienced player and would be much better at a tournament of this nature – we could do with his experience. Despite the reports I don’t think this decision is down to footballing reasons at all that said we should back the guy to at least win us one game. I am not holding out much hope though.

I have to say Elton has gone up in my estimations, he is a brilliant musician and I seem to agree with him on football terms too. So I think I will have to drop him a line and join him for a beer as we both have new babies too.

Churnalism is launched to combat cutting and pasting journalism

The last couple of weeks have been interesting because there have been some fascinating developments in the world of media. One of those new developments was the creation of a new site called Churnalism. The site has been created by The Media Standards Trust to basically identify where copied press release text is being lifted from and used. On Chunalism you can do the following according to the news release (whoops I have pasted it sorry):

    • Compare a press release with more than 3 million articles published by national newspaper websites, the BBC or Sky News since 2008
    • See the percentage of a press release cut and pasted into news articles, and the number of characters that overlap
    • See a press release side-by-side with an image of the article, showing which bits have been copied
    • Search examples of “churn” saved by other people as well as collected automatically by churnalism.com
    • Share examples of churn via Twitter and Facebook

This video which accompanied a great write up in The Guardian is brilliant and shows Chris Atkins and the team on a quest to get untrue news stories into the media to show how our hacks are now lifting copy and placing it into national newspapers.

Churnalism In the older days of PR when I started out, the majority of Churnalism would be from the smaller specialist trade titles, who would often also ask us to pay for our articles by adding a colour separation fee. Sadly, those days are still here and with the evolution of the internet and shared content it seems that the newspaper industry still doesn’t appear to be keeping up with online publishing and social media.

However, that said another great revelation came out a couple of weeks ago that pointed out that the majority of Twitter news is still derived from the more traditional news sources such as BBC etc. The article stated:

An analysis of more than 16 million tweets on 3361 topics by HP Labs’ Social Computing Research Group identified just 22 users who were the source of the most retweets while a topic is trending.

And during a trending topic, 31 per cent of all tweets are retweets.

Sixteen of these ‘influencers’ were mainstream media, including Twitter accounts for CNN Breaking News, which has almost 3.9 million followers, Huffington Post, Sky News, BBC World Service and the Daily Telegraph.

I think this is good news because good journalism still thrives its just that the times we are living in means that journalists have to move forward and do more work with less colleagues. I live next door to a senior sub-editor on one of Yorkshire’s largest newspapers and she has told me how tough it is at the moment in the newspaper industry but I don’t need to tell you that.

I think the Churnalism site is a great idea and way of drawing attention to the issue. I also think that the team behind it should produce a white paper or some kind of report on the state of the industry each year, as I would find it genuinely interesting to see if there are real trends in cutting and pasting. One thing is for sure there may be more cutting and pasting but there are still some excellent journalists out there.