What are social reporters, and what do they do?
Do you see yourself as one?
A London Net Tuesday event earlier this week gave me confidence that those are questions worth asking, even if the answers are ones we still have to choose for ourselves.
The term socialreporter was one I came up with a few years back, when I got tired to saying I was a sort of old journalist, turned consultant in partnerships and facilitation, who got excited about social technologies some years back.
I haven’t promoted it strongly, because it isn’t meant to be a personal brand or very well-defined, so I’ve been delighted when other think it has some use.
William Wardlaw Rogers thought it interesting enough to make it the theme of this month’s Net Tuesday, so I dug out a Mindmap I started last year, added another, and used that to spark some lively conversation with a group including John Popham, Fiona McElroy, and Mark Barratt. I think we agreed that social reporters should be sociable – as in socially useful.
The Mindmap extended my idea that social reporting may be seen as a mix of making sense, joining up and helping out. (Both Mindmaps available here).
The making sense bit is what journalists and many other knowledge workers do … although quite what angle they take on the sense-making differs widely, depending whether they are selling tabloids, interpreting research data, spotting market trends or supporting local activists.
I see joining up as sharing ideas, connecting conversations, making introductions, and helping build networks … not just make more connections for your own purpose. I think that’s a bit different from the journalism I knew, where contacts were the last thing you shared. These days hyperlocal bloggers and the new breed of online journalists are more open. They recognise that more comes to those who share.
Helping out involves sharing your skills and helping others develop theirs, together with the confidence to have a go. That’s very much the territory of social media surgeons. Speaking of which, John Popham, digital surgeon and much else, turned the reporting tables on me and shot some video as I talked through the slides. Embarrassing. I realise that in future I must be much more thankful and kinder to those I pursuade to be interviewed.
If I needed more encouragement to stick with “social reporting”, it came with news that doyen online reporter, surgeon and innovator Nick Booth (aka Podnosh) was running special social reporter training later this month in Birmingham. Details here and here (pdf).
In writing this post I wondered about naming other people I thought were social reporters … but it’s really up to them. So if you like the term for the work you do, please drop a comment, or contact me here. I could then practice a bit of joining up, to follow what I hope has been some sense making. If you want helping out, we’ll have to see if Nick will spread the SR Brummie goodness further, or make up our own help system. Meanwhile I wrote here about reporting at events, which helps answer one of the most important questions – how to get paid.