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Students do social media better than publishers, says Guardian chief

martin-belamA national digital chief says journalism students are using social media better than many of their potential future employers.

Guardian social and new formats editor Martin Belam made the comments during a panel discussion on new strategies and skills for 24 hour journalism at the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ Journalism Skills Conference this morning.

The panel was quizzed on how lecturers could prepare students for the world they were entering into.

Martin, pictured, joined the Guardian in February having previously worked as editor responsible for new formats at Trinity Mirror.

He said: “The thing that’s quite difficult is if you want to try to prepare people on how to do social media, most media organisations aren’t doing it brilliantly and most students will be doing it brilliantly as part of their own lives.”

He added: “Last year Facebook Live didn’t exist, now it’s one of my best digital tools.”

He was joined on the panel by Sky Sports journalist Brogan Kay-Jessop.

Brogan graduated from the University of Portsmouth’s journalism programme two years ago and won the NCTJ’s student sports journalist of the year award in 2014.

She said: “Social media is something definitely I could have benefited from doing at university.

“When I first graduated I would start with work experience placements and freelancing, so a bit more of good advice on freelancing too.”

jaffaMeanwhile a leading media lawyer has urged journalism lecturers to warn their students about the risks of lifting photographs from social media for stories.

Tony Jaffa, who leads law firm Foot Anstey’s editorial & regulatory media team, told delegates there was no “safety in numbers” in doing so – even when many publishers use a photo taken from Facebook or Twitter.

Tony, left, was speaking at a session on digital court reporting and copyright at the conference in Portsmouth this morning.

He was joined by The News, Portsmouth’s court reporter Ben Fishwick who related his experience of digital reporting from hearings.

Discussing issues around copyright, Tony told delegates: “This new age of digital publishing has a real effect on the way these businesses are running.

“Every time a journalist lifts a photo from Facebook or Twitter inevitably there is a risk of a copright infringement claim.

“There is no safety in numbers just because everybody else is doing it. As a matter of practicality it may mean you’re OK, but there’s no guarantee.”


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  • November 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    How will companies such as those who’ve dumped their photographic teams manage without the Twitter filled lazy approach of ‘ hi this is xxx we’ve quoted you in our story in today’s xxxx”
    Or ” hi this is xxxxx can we use your photo in the xxxx we will give you a mention”

    Social media is littered with stock messages such as these whenever a local story breaks and someone with a camera phone has snapped a few pix and posted on twitter or Facebook
    Maybe if they had to pay to use this lazy ‘ content gathering’ approach would stop

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  • November 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Meanwhile a leading media lawyer has urged journalism lecturers to warn their students about the risks of lifting photographs from social media for stories.
    Not just copyright. A lot of social media ( actually anti-social media) stuff is downright libel.

    What will the poor reporters do? They have got into the habit of lifting tributes etc off social media. Poor souls.

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