#bbcsms - Technology and Innovation

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Nic Newman

Social media is your friend, not your competitor. Visits to news sites is growing at about the same rate as social media visits.

So who is losing?

Search is starting to fall as a source of information – being replaced by social discovery. Mainstream media seeing huge increases in referrals from social media. Daily Mail doing best. Times suffering.

Who is originating news?

Yes, sometimes social media breaks stories, and that is amplified by traditional media. But generally, it’s the other way around. However, individual journalists and bloggers are becoming as influential as news brands. But Twitter and social media acts generally as an amplifier of mainstream news.

New ecology of news production and consumption
Race for influence
Social discovery is a core traffic driving strategy
Social needs to be built into new business models

We’re telling better stories
Now we need to increase engagement and distribute content.

Liz Heron, NYT

Building a strong social media-centric team. They have been focusing on socmed as a way of reaching new audiences. This year, we’ve taken it to a new level. if you’re only thinking of it as a distribution channel, your missing out on the opportunities for engagement. “Source up” on social media – before you need them. Reply, and join in conversations. Twitter is so natural for journalists hat sometimes we forget about Facebook.

We don’t have social media guidelines – use common sense and don’t be stupid. We have to trust them to use it well.

Trying to get involved with high impact projects in the newsroom to ensure a social media element.

Facebook gives you a lot of information on people who sign in through them – almost too much. You can learn a lot about who is interested in what.
The NYT has an R&D department, looking at how social stuff might look on the site in five years…

They’re planning on focusing more on Facebook now, as they’ve “cracked” Twitter. Cyborg Twitter accounts – half automated links, half human interaction. Next week they’re going to go all human on the main account, turning off the feed.

She’s not threatened by people developing personal brands – people tend to stay at the NYT, and strongly identify themselves as belonging to the title. They’re less convinced about personal pages on Facebook, though. But they’re still just experimenting.

Facebook Connect has been very important for things like their Oscars web app. Has driven subs, but not a lot. More important in promoting content.

Mark Little, Storyful

Started as a journo, remember covering prison riot with a mobile the size of a brick. The dirty secret was that being a foreign correspond ant was it was mostly about the logistics of big equipment.
We’re living through a disruption – there’s so much information now; how do we filter and integrate that. Tried to do it in RTE. Hit cultural issues.

People confuse Technology and innovation. Tech is a shiny box, innovation is changing the way we report. Most news organisations are not comfortable with risk and failure, which is necessary for innovation. Bit disappointed by some things he’s heard today. It should be about collaboration, not competition – which is not how newsrooms work.

Social media people in newsrooms are like insurgents…

Holy grail of integration is trust indexes. Every news event creates a community.

Mark Rock, AudioBoo

Media organisations are stuck in the electric age, not the digital one. You’ll lose people if you don’t change. They don’t think about bits and iteration. They build R&D factories, when there are factories out there (startups).


Interesting debate about innovation in big companies. Illico from Reuters argued that it does happen, on an individual basis. Mark Rock replied that he wasn’t saying that innovation doesn’t happen, it’s just that they won’t take risks in the same way as startups.

Esra from Al Jazeera thinks that partnerships with startups is a win, win. you can experiment, and if you fail, fail fast and then replace. A lady from the Huffington Post said she’s given complete freedom to use what she wants – no directives from the top. Mark Rock pointed out that most big media companies ignore new tech, then try to build itself, then fail, then try to partner.

Discussion around failure – we’re so ashamed of it in the UK. We haven’t seen the same large startup online journalism business we have in the US. Mark Little thinks we expect innovation to spring forth full-formed, rather than changing and experimenting.

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.