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Social media may help beat ‘churnalism’ says editor

Twitter and Facebook could help newsrooms with dwindling reporter numbers avoid simply churning out press releases, according to the editor of a regional daily.

North Wales Daily Post editor Alison Gow is due to take part in a panel session entitled Churnalism – How to Avoid It at the Polis Journalism Conference next month.

Ahead of the appearance, she posted a blog on the same subject, arguing she believes savvy use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ and the like could be the answer.

Said Alison:  “So many reporters are now having multiple conversations on Facebook threads with multiple contacts, all at the same time about potential stories.

“I guess it’s the most open display of journalist conversation with sources – maybe most evident at a regional, local and hyperlocal independent level – that has ever existed.”

Alison cited an article by Nick Davies, called Flat Earth News, which claims that churnalism exists because reporters are spending more and more time chained to their desk, meaning they cannot possibly develop strong enough contacts.

“But that was published back in 2008, using research from 2006, when social media as a mass communication and collaboration tool had yet to explode,” she added.

“Five years on, Andy Carvin [a correspondent for the US National Public Radio] spends 95pc of his time crouched over a desk, and he is considered one of the finest journalists of his generation, curating information, repackaging content, interrogating the data it contains, and publishing with confidence.

“His network is online, his face-to-face chats are via Skype or Google+ Hangouts, he uses Twitter and Facebook to source information, make contacts, and then checks his sources.”

To hear Alison speak at the conference, which is free to attend, register here.