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Meeting the mobile audience: Beyond 140 characters with @moonytweets

Andrew Moon is 24 years old, and already a social media producer at Australia’s national broadcaster. All this at a time when young journalism graduates are supposed to be worrying about their futures in a shrinking industry. He’s testament to the fact that there are still opportunities out there for a new generation of journalists, and that many of these are in a whole new realm: social media.

“My role didn’t exist when I was studying four years ago, three years ago,” he admits, but adds that “[Director of Social Media and Engagement at the Wall Street Journal] Liz Heron was saying it may not exist a few years down the track, so it’s such an interesting space to be in.”

Moon’s timing – joining  the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as an intern just months before a number of significant news events emerged and were largely reported through social media – was fortuitous. “We saw a lot of news events where reporting wasn’t easy through traditional media. Obviously the Arab Spring, but for us another one was the Queensland floods,” he recalls. “We were able to mobilize a fantastic team of domestic reporters, but we were still left in some way with communities we just couldn’t get our crews into because of the speed of that natural disaster and where it was moving.”

That’s where Moon came in, helping to search for content on social media to include in the ABC broadcasts. Events like this brought with them a whole new methodology when it came to finding stories, and people like Moon, a young journalist who had familiarised himself with the right digital platforms, found he had something new to offer. Despite his youth, he could bring new skills to an experienced team of journalists in an institution that’s been around for almost a century. Negotiating that transfer was not always easy, however. Moon says getting some established journalists on board with social media also necessitated making clear that their editorial experience was still valued.  “‘This is not something to replace your tool kit,'” he recalls telling them. “‘We want your editorial experience to jump on a new platform.’ That’s a fun conversation to have.”

Our audience is increasingly fragmented and increasingly mobile.

Moon stresses that even aficionados like himself are continually learning from and experimenting with social media, and finding ways to use existing platforms as publishing tools and routes to an audience. “Previously you had your masthead, your newspaper, your website or your television channel, and that’s where viewers came,” he says. “I think we’re realising now that our audience is increasingly fragmented and they’re increasingly mobile, so instead of saying ‘Come to our app!’ the new conversation should be ‘We’ll meet you where you are.'”

Yet Moon makes clear that there’s more to social media than a publishing tool. “It presents a really new way to get content,” he says. He also sees it as a way of bringing journalist and audience closer together, something he calls “democratizing” the conversation. “It means that audiences are more informed, they know what’s going on in the newsroom, what we do as journalists is more transparent, and we are held to account in many ways.”

And the goalposts are constantly moving. Moon says the latest shift is into learning how content goes viral, and finding ways to help make that happen and make sure to reach the biggest audience possible.  “We’re having active conversations about how social media content goes viral,” he says. “We’ve moved the yard stick from ‘How many followers do we have?’ to ‘How many times did that get retweeted and why did that get retweeted?'”

It has never been so easy to go from authorship to publication.

The opportunities for journalists on social media are manifold, but there are pitfalls. “It has never been so easy to go from authorship to publication,” cautions Moon, who advises journalists to apply the same principles to Twitter or Facebook as they would to traditional publishing tools.

Though we’re all still figuring it out, particularly when it comes to the ethical issues that arise around these new platforms, there will always be dissension.  “We are having conversations globally in social media circles about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and I feel it’s the same discussion that newsrooms have had for years,” he points out. “Paper A will say ‘We will publish that photo based on these principles that guide our publication,’ and Publication B will say ‘We’re not touching that.'”

It’s that word – conversations – that keeps coming up, a word that has come to permeate so much news talk in this changing world.  For Moon, it’s a word that points up the social nature of this new media.  “We are, as news organizations, as journalists, as producers  on these platforms, jumping into a stream of conversations,” he says. “So we need to be conversing there.” Why? Because it’s a way of leveraging the one thing technology can’t replace: your humanity. “Just as in the real world, people respond really well to human interaction and human communication.”

Such interactions – responding to Twitter messages or Facebook comments – bring major benefits to those who engage. “Through those interactions comes loyalty, comes news tips, comes content. They’re three incredibly valuable things for a news organization to have and it’s really easy to get that, just by responding to queries,” says Moon.

From his perspective, this much decried revolution in news has brought some positive changes.  “We’re not weighed down by a printing press any more. We’re not weighed down by the infrastructure. We’re much more mobile in the sense of where our content is going and how we can adapt,” he says. And news organizations need to be flexible to make the most of that.

You are journalist 2.0 – know that language.

But what of young journalists in this brave new world? Moon is walking proof that there are still jobs out there, though he does acknowledge that the industry is shrinking. “I don’t think it’s ever been so easy to be a young journalist and build a brand before you’ve even stepped in the door of a news organization,” he says. Be digital and social savvy, says Moon, and learn how the individual platforms work.  “You are journalist 2.0 – know that language.”  And start using it to tell news stories.”Wherever you are, you are in a community, there are issues, so get amongst them and get reporting.”

What does the future of journalism look like? While nobody has a definitive answer to that question, for Moon the important thing right now is the dialogue around it, and making sure that you’re part of it.  “What I do love about social media is that in some way news organizations are having this conversation about the future of journalism interactively, across the globe,” he points out. “That is one of the great things about the online world. We’re not having this conversation alone.”


2 comments on “Meeting the mobile audience: Beyond 140 characters with @moonytweets

  1. jdisaookjdaoi4334
    December 20, 2012

     Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday morning in the Andy Dalton Black Jersey AFC East:
         New England Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski (ankle) will be ready for training camp.
         Morning take: The Patriots have let Gronkowski sit during offseason workouts. But now it’s time for work during the “Summer of Gronk. ”
         New york Jets safety LaRon Landry (Achilles) will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
         Morning take: This A.J. Green Orange Jersey is not a surprise. Landry never had corrective surgery and chose to manage the situation. That includes a lighter workload in training camp.
         Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams says he has no pressure to live up to his $100 million contract.
         Morning take: A double-digit sack season and more wins should make Bills fans happy. But the most important A.J. Green Camo Jersey thing is Williams must stay healthy and productive.
         Is the Miami Dolphins’ secondary ready to take the next step?
         Morning take: I like their young corners in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. But I don’t feel nearly as good about Miami’s safeties. It could be a mixed bag this season.

  2. Pingback: Beware Starting A Blog | An American Housewife

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This entry was posted on December 18, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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