Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to be influential on Twitter

According to new research, an average Joe or Josephine can gain influence in Twitter by limiting his or her tweets to a particular topic and being engaged in that topic.

The authors of this study analyzed about 2 billion public tweets and looked at followers, retweets, and mentions to see who moves information on Twitter. They found that while news organizations, such as CNN, can hold significant influence on a variety of topics, average people can gain influence "through concerted effort such as limiting tweets to a single topic." Apparently, influence on Twitter is not all about the number of followers that you have.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Polling Websites

Since this is an election year, we will undoubtedly see political news coverage turn again to poll numbers to help fill the news hole. If you want to see the data for yourself or want to learn more about public opinion in other areas, check out these sites:
  • Real Clear Politics: This site compiles the latest numbers from all the major poling firms for the 2010 political races and Obama job approval.
  • Gallup: Sometimes you want to know what the public thinks about an issue and this website contains publicly available polling data on the latest hot-button issues
  • Pew Research Center: This non-profit research center's website often contains their polling data for issues that are in the news.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Guidelines for Reporters

Sometimes reporters need to cover sensitive topics, such as a suicide, and there may be some confusion about how that topic should be covered. Once again, research can come to rescue, if you know where to look.

Chances are, if you are faced with an ethical dilemma about how to cover a story, another reporter has faced a similar situation. Other newspapers' standards and policies for reporting can be a guide and journalism organizations, such as the Society for Professional Journalists, may also have ethical guidelines.

Also, foundations or research institutes may have guidelines as well. In a previous life I worked for Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania on a project that focused on improving news coverage of suicides. Previous research had indicated that many news reporters didn't realize (or didn't want to believe) that how they covered suicides (the wording that they used and the pictures that they showed) could impact whether or not "copycat" suicides would later be attempted. We worked with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to create and disseminate media guidelines for suicide coverage that reflected the research. One thing to keep in mind when turning to interest groups for guidelines is to make sure that they are grounded in sound research and not just a ploy to get favorable media coverage.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Newseum: A good physical and virtual resource

Last summer I visited the reopened Newseum in Washington D.C. for the first time and I was blown away. As someone who reads news religiously, I could have spent a lifetime in the building just taking in the exhibits and contemplating the impact that news has on our society.

Thus, I was thrilled when I later went back to the Newseum's website and saw all the great news resources that are available. Through this site, you can:
  • See the front pages of newspapers from around the world
  • Keep up with journalism news
  • Get information on the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution (great for that upcoming informative or persuasive COMM 131 speech!)
So if you haven't visited the Newseum in person or virtually, I recommend that you do both.