Editors Needed

Hacks for hacks.
Yesterday’s post was part recounting, part judgement, and part therapy. But today, as reality sinks in for everyone, the role of social media is being discussed with as much vigor as the types of bombs used and the stories of people helping each other in Boston.

There are a couple of these social media discussions I want to point you to before we get into their validity.

First, take a look at this piece from Slate’s Social Media Editor, Jeremy Stahl

“Twitter is the first rough draft of journalism.”
Jeremy Stahl— Slate Social Media Editor, 15 April 2013

Mr. Stahl was also a guest Tuesday on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” which you can listen to below. Go ’head; I’ll wait.

Lastly, Tuesday’s PBS Newshour featured a conversation between their Political Editor Christina Bellantoni and “Digital Download” hosts Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn. I’ll give you a few moments for it, as well.

All of these discussions bolster some of what I was trying to say in part of yesterday’s post: The world needs editors. 

Yes, I love that anyone and everyone has access to publishing tools. Yes, we can all be citizen journalists. Yes, more information is better than less. But how on earth are we supposed to assimilate it all unless there are people to weed out fact from fiction?

Whether we call them editors or curators or producers, these functions are vital to our proper understanding of breaking news events. They cull the wheat from the chaff. Follow up on unconfirmed leads. Ignore the trolls. Yet, today’s profit-driven news organizations are eliminating these roles. So now, we need to know how to do it ourselves.

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools we can use, but I think it lacks the ease-of-use needed for most users to quickly and easily find the right information at the moment they need it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in love with Twitter. And they’ve come a long way. But I want more tools which can group relevant Tweets on a given topic.

I hear you now, “What about hashtags?” Sure, they’re great. But while I was watching the news out of Boston yesterday, there was no consistently used term for updates about what was actually going on at the site. Which should I have chosen, #Boston? #BostonMarathon? #BostonBombing

When a story like this develops, there is no official hashtag. Nor should there be. But we should be able to find updates relative to what we’re looking for without having to comb through all of the chaos. 

So, let’s build something better with news gathering in mind. If you have ideas on what other features should be included, let me know when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.