Is There a Tug-o-War Between Mainstream and Social Media?



Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

This is a reposting of Asha Phillips’ article on Storyful.


What happens when the creators, contributors, collaborators and curators of the online world meet in the physical world? Social Media Week (SMW) hopes to find out when it kicks off this month in 13 cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Sao Paulo and Vancouver. During September 24-28 hundreds of events will happen simultaneously across the 13 cities and Storyful is excited to be a part of it.

I spoke with the founder of SMW Toby Daniels from Crowdcentric and asked him why he launched the program back in 2009:

The (US) election had just happened, social media had played an important role, however most conferences were still obsessing about shiny tools and the latest buzzworthy platforms.  I wanted to bring people together around a more meaningful dialogue. So we conceived of SMW as an open, inclusive event focusing on the pressing issues related to social media and its role in society.

During the first year of SMW, the conference attracted around 3,000 people across New York City. A few years on and SMW now sees over 60,000 people physically attending events and close to half a million connecting with events via technology and social media, according to Daniels. This year, Storyful is taking part in events in Hong Kong and Germany.  Gavin Sheridan will be speaking on the topic of Storyful – Journalism and Social Media in Berlin on September 24 and I’ll be a panelist at one of the featured events in Hong Kong, Tug-O-War: Mainstream Media vs Social Media, on September 27.

I’m really honored to be on the panel with Angie Lau from Bloomberg TV and the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong, Mariko Sanchanta, Senior Editor, Asia for the Wall Street Journal, David Bandurski, Researcher at China Media Project and Roy Sekoff, founding editor of Huffington Post (who’ll join from the US via Skype). The panel will be moderated by Walter Jennings from Kreab Gavin Anderson Hong Kong who focuses on social media for financial and corporate clients in HK. Walter also blogs on Hong Kong and China.

The panel will explore how social media can be used as a newsgathering tool, how content can be found and verified online, and pose questions around the future role of traditional media and social media.

But don’t be misled. The title of the event may suggest a battle between mainstream media and ‘new’ media, but the reality, from my experience, is that they can – and often do – work in close tandem. As someone working in social media news gathering, it’s my dream that the topic of what’s being shared on social media sites will be raised at every editorial meeting in newsrooms around the world – in TV, radio, online and print. Storyful is here to help support news organisations and their journalists report the news –  we’re not replacing them.

The panel will also look at discovering, validating and verifying content on social media. Finding the news in the noise is what we do at Storyful,  and I’ll talk about how you can sift through the 48 hours of videos uploaded every minute on YouTube or the over 340 million tweets sent every day on Twitter to find the newsworthy chunks of content that newsrooms and audiences want.

I’m sure there’ll be some lively debate about how we can trust these sources – after all,  the majority of people who upload content on these platforms are not trained journalists, and much of our interaction with them takes place online. But rest assured: journalists are by nature cynics, and that hasn’t changed. In fact, I think we’re more critical of content and sources now than ever before because we know how quickly the wrong information can spread on social media platforms. Don’t believe me or flat out disagree? Come to the  Tug-O-War event in Hong Kong, which hopes to tackle some of these issues with the help of journalists representing both mainstream and social media, and let us know in person.

If you’re in Hong Kong or Berlin and interested in attending, check out the registration sites. If you can’t make it to the events in person, just go online! The Tug-O-War event in Hong Kong is going to be live streamed so you can watch it from anywhere with a decent internet connection, and you can follow it on Twitter using the hashtag #3Shots and #SMWHK, or at the @SMWHK account. The @smwberlin will be providing updates on the Berlin event.

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