Open Journalism: the Benefits of Collaboration

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Guest Post by: Richard Dalke

Sky and the BBC have recently been in the news for restricting their journalists’ use of social media. The BBC released guidelines encouraging employees not to break news stories on Twitter while Sky’s new social media guidelines advise against sharing stories from anyone other than their own employees.

Both have been criticised for such policies. Cutting such an important communications tool out of the news gathering process is surely to miss a trick. There’s a wealth of timely and rich content shared on social media. Using social in the media can be contentious – and should be handled with care to avoid disseminating inaccurate or unverified information, from a legal perspective and also to protect the news brand. However, such restrictive practices have caused some people to question whether news content that doesn’t embrace social will become boring and outdated.

The Guardian has taken a very different approach and recently kicked off its ‘Open Journalism’ campaign. The campaign which aims make journalism more collaborative, kicked off with a punchy video. This highlights nicely, how we expect to consume information from different sources and the benefits of a more collaborative multi-channel approach. The video entitled ‘Guardian open journalism: Three Little Pigs advert‘ has been released on YouTube and illustrates the efforts that The Guardian is making to integrate social media in order to present a structured, reliable and more comprehensive source of information.

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The Three Little Pigs is a great demonstration of how user generated content can enhance news stories. It just goes to show what organisations will miss out on if they are over-cautious approach. Some industries operate in such a strictly regulated environment that they have to be cautious. However those that see restricting social media as an easier option may find that view short sighted. If time is taken to manage potential risks social media could provide increased benefit for both the organisation and its audience.

The Guardian has a reputation for digital innovation. It’s too early to say how successful its Open Journalism initiative will be, but, The Guardian certainly seems to be working to embrace and adapt to the change social media represents rather than trying to ignore it.

And they do say that fortune favours the brave.

Image via: flickr

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