Monthly Archives: April 2013

G-Force: Or, what goes up must come down

Every social network site has a life cycle. Some last longer than others but there will always be something bigger, better, faster, stronger waiting in the wings. Have a listen to this delightful song as you read my take on it all.  My delve into the brave new world of Google+.

Everyone, at some time in their lives goes through a stage when they realise they are set in their ways; stuck in a routine (comfortable). It can happen when you’re in a relationship; you can plan out the week by what you’re having for dinner, or what television programmes you’ll sit and eat it in front of (I know, but we all do it, the table has got the ironing pile on and the laptop is charging). It happens with the places you go too.

BocaDorada

“would you like your usual?”
Image courtesy of BocaDorada

When you’re young you go to every bar, cafe and club you can. You have an appetite for new experiences and a hunger to meet new and exciting people. But then something happens and you get comfortable again. You find yourself frequenting the same bars, and the same cafes (clubbing is simply out of the question; too many young people making loud noises).

What if the same thing has happened to your social media life as has to your social life? Well let me tell you, it has! We all quite happily discarded the passé charms of MySpace without a second thought when we realised the ‘in’ crowd were hanging out on Facebook in their droves, and we were quite happy, after a few complimentary words from our most cutting edge of friends, to spend a little of our time in that new place where everyone was twitting or tweeting or something like that. Yes, we all give it a go and learned how to fit in and order what we wanted, but that’s when it started to go a bit stale.

Sure, your networking friends started to dabble with LinkedIn, and you go to show you’re face every now and then, just to make sure you’re not missing out on anything. But we’ve been hanging around the same places for so long we seem to have settled. Have we really though? Are we prepared to accept that this is it for us now? (Why not, I hear you say; we haven’t listened to any new music produced after 2002!) If we open our eyes, and remember our bygone wanderlust we may get a pleasant surprise.

googleplus

Does Google+ have the potential to overtake Facebook?

Ok, the new place looks pretty good. It seems to have all the best bits of the regular places with a few really cool new bits, but is it worth the hassle of signing up for something new? Is Google+ really worth all the stress of learning how to get around somewhere new and signing up to be a member of yet another new club? Well, that’s up to you to decide. I for one am prepared to be one of the first to give it a go. Yes I know, it’s full of young people and strange men who know the difference between a cloud and a klout, but that’s what we thought about Twitter back in 2007. I’m prepared to uproot and rebuild my life in a new place, safe in the knowledge that you will all join me in a couple of years (if that!).

Google+ faces an impossible task trying to convince people to leave the people and places they have grown to love (if only through familiarity). They must rely on the early adopters, and the advocates to spread the word. Admittedly so, I left it too long to be able to call myself an early adopter, but I’m doing it now and I implore you all to follow suit.

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If you’re not part of the conversation, at least be privy to it!

Monitoring the conversations that are taking place about you is a must-do. There is no excuse for not listening and it could help save your reputation.

I was driving into work on 14th March wondering if  Spring was ever going to spring, when BBC Newcastle radio station announced in a report that TT2, the company that operate the Tyne Tunnel linking South Tyneside with Newcastle and Northumberland, had not installed speed cameras in their tunnels despite substantial rumours.

TT2

“You have about 20 minutes northbound and 15 minutes heading south.” I was always going North!

The Tyne Tunnel was once a frequent utterance on local radio breakfast shows; mainly in the traffic reports. But since the construction and opening of the second tunnel it faded into memory; especially for me now that I had moved my place of work from Ashington to the much more conveniently situated Walbottle.

The Tyne Tunnel was great now. They opened it up on time, in an era when construction company deadlines held as much weight as your wallet after you’ve bought a season ticket to Wembley Stadium, and they had received  generally good press coverage.

However, all this was to end one cold day in March when rumours started on Twitter that they had secretly installed speed cameras. Furthermore, the tweets seemed to indicate they had not publicly announced this as it had been their intention to use it as a profiteering tool.

All of a sudden TT2 had a PR crisis on their hands, and what’s more it was not even true!

This spread of information was contained to Twitter, but had already spread to a huge reach, and damage to TT2’s reputation was at the heart of the discourse. There was a conversation happening that they were not part of.

I don’t know exactly how they found out about the rumours on the electronic grapevine; they should have had someone monitoring there name, but I fear they were probably contacted by a journalist, or someone else who monitors social media as part of their everyday tasks.

All organisations need to monitor social media

Interestingly, even though they have a Twitter account they chose not to use it in their efforts to get their side of the story out. They used local breakfast radio as their medium. This optimised their potential to reach their key public – motorists in the area of the tunnel.

So even though you are not communicating through social media platforms, don’t forget the importance of using them as a monitoring device. There is no excuse for ignoring it.

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When sports journalists get political: the sensational case of Paolo Di Canio

Why let a proper news story get in the way of a good headline? Sensationalism in the press has long been a significant journalistic technique and recognised as a tried and tested tactic to sell copies of a newspaper. But does this compulsion to sensationalise reporting of events compromise the integrity of journalism?

The case of Paolo Di Canio

Unveiled as Sunderland manager

Unveiled as Sunderland manager

Paulo Di Canio was announced as the successor to the recently sacked Martin O’Neill on Easter Monday, which, in a show of calendaric rarity, also happened to be the 1st April; April Fools day. The position as Sunderland Head Coach was not Di Canio’s first managerial post; in fact it is his second in English football, following a spell in charge of Swindon Town FC.

However, unlike in 2011, this appointment has caused the media to hit the panic button on an epic scale. Where one would usually expect tributes to the former manager, mild outrage against foreign owners wielding swords of power, and questions over the tactical nuances of a top-flight rookie; all the press have concerned themselves with is alleged comments the man made 8 years ago, which he explained in his first press conference, and an official club statement as misrepresentative and out of context.

Asking the right questions

In the hours and days following the initial press conference the newspapers filled their websites, twitter feeds and front and back pages with speculation regarding the truth about the comments; the primary sources beginning and ending with Mr. Di Canio’s organised press conferences (which are standard fare at such embryonic stages of a new managers reign). The original source remains to my knowledge, un-translated and as such, unsubstantiated. The press have, however, published images of Di Canio saluting his own fans during his playing career, while at Lazio.

Di Canio celebrating with fans.

Di Canio celebrating with fans.

These pictures have become the basis for a campaign of hate, in the absence of any real investigation, and have been misrepresented as having connections to the Nazis. This is in conjunction with a dreadfully crass typecasting of several socio-political, historical parties, and a blind ignorance of the associated terminology and socio-political context.

The far right or far off the mark?

I would like to make clear that I am not condoning the actions carried out under the name of fascism in the past, but nor do I condone the actions of the press as they fail to differentiate between fascism and racially fueled hate crimes. Fascism is an ideology which is understood to mean a myriad of things to different people in various social and historical contexts.

We are talking about the comments of an elite sportsman, not a politician or academic. Why is it assumed Di Canio understands the connotations of his alleged comments, especially in a foreign cultural setting? He has clearly been instructed by the club’s press office to refuse to comment on any political issue – after all, he is a former footballer, not a political historian. How do we know for sure that everything he has read or heard outside of football isn’t understood in the paradigm of football discourse (probably the only thing he has ever known)? Refusing to deny outrageous accusations is being reported as if it were an admission of sympathising with the actions of evil by the press, and I expect more. It’s simply not good enough.

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