In the days since the Iranian election and the protests that followed, much has been written, broadcast, tweeted and blogged about how Iranian citizens have seized the power of social media to report what is happening to the outside world. In the United States, the mainstream media has picked up on this phenomenon, but sadly most of the reporting has been about the cool factor of Twitter, amateur video, etc.
But a few mainstream media outlets are getting the hang of new media. They’re aggregating the citizen-journalist reports, lending context, and sharing with the rest of us. Mark Jones of Reuters highlights a few of them in his blog post about running web commentary on Iran.
The challenge of providing the latest to a world hungry for the news from Iran “is to match what TV stations can do when they switch between news bulletins to rolling 24 hour coverage,” Jones writes. “Only the web ought to be able to do so much more given its scope for interactivity.”
In an ideal world you’d want to provide the fastest, most thoroughly verified reports around the clock whether they or not they are from conventional journalists. And as a user I think you’d also want to be pointed in the direction of where you can find out more. If all this was easy then it would have been done by now. But it’s a lot of work. And all news organisations have had to strike compromises on one or more of those counts.
Live blogs that attempt to document the unrest in Iran — such as The Guardian’s and the New York Times lede blog — help to meet some of that need for information and blend the accounts of citizens on the ground with journalists’ analysis and annotation. Jones also discusses (briefly) reporters logs, which rely on the news organization’s staffers instead of citizen journalists, and “the most interesting approach,” aggregated information streaming in from “validated” citizen journalists, such as what Sky News is doing.
“None of these approaches has entirely nailed it,” Jones writes. In his perfect scenario, the ideal blend of mainstream and social-networking media would include:
- Direct publishing by sources validated by the news organization
- The ability for live blog anchors to republish and annotate external contributions
- A means by which participants could add to or critique particular elements of the commentary
What about you? How do you think mainstream and newstream media should converge to cover this unfolding story?