Documentally is waki

The other day social media journalist documentally was invited by Reuters to attend Gordon Brown's press conference. Being a streaming video kinda guy (to put it mildly), he streamed live via Qik:


This went around on Twitter, and I tuned in. It occurred to me that I wouldn't have bothered to watch it live on TV, so why did I watch this time?

Partly it was out of curiosity, this being one of the the first times social media type journalists have been in on a big, proper news event (ie a non-techie one). So I wanted to see what it was like.

But there was also an element of feeling more connected to the events. It seemed more like a personal invitation to tune in (I don't know Documentally, aka Christian, but a few of the OU folks do). This made me reflect that we have become rather distant from traditional journalists. Because you engage much more in a dialogue and the everyday aspects of a social media journalist, one can view them as your representative.

Creating a character that acts as the audience's representative, or a proxy for the reader in literature, is a common enough tactic. In Shakespeare, Falstaff and the Fool (in Lear) perform this function, and in Japanese theatre the secondary role of waki is often seen as the embodiment of the audience. I'm not an expert in journalism, but it seems to me that social media provides a means of increasing this relationship with the audience. This can be true even with 'conventional' journalists – for example if the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones tweets that he is appearing on the news, I'm probably more likely to tune in and watch it, because I've been following his process in creating the story.


  • Cristina Costa

    Very good account of the immediacy of instantaneous media! |Also agree with your reflection that the web has come to connect people in a way that other means of communication have never really been able to – not in the same way or depth. It’s that degree of personal communication that connects people and keep them constantly alert to what goes on in this means of communication… In a way we become part of the event…
    It a surprising world… sometimes we even surprise ourselves! 😉
    Last week I attended some of the presentations at the #hhl08 although I wasn’t physically there (they were webcast via qik) …and I thought to myself …I was never able to follow a complete open University programme, which the Portuguese Channel 2 used to broadcast on saturday mornings, but I am here eagerly listening to these guys presenting live and not giving it much attention that the image and sound quality isn’t 100% good!
    Times changes; technology advances and our practice and perceptions of how we doing/ value things evolves too…I guess! 😉

  • Glyn Mottershead

    Engaging with the audience is exactly what a lot of the new thinking in journalism is about – networked journalism, distributed content (read data portability) etc.
    A lot of the things that you have been blogging as ed tech cross over into the media world – ple becomes personal media environment (aka the me sphere. Have a look at Jeff Jarvis http://www.buzzmachine.com/ for an interesting take on this side of Web 2.0 journalism etc).
    Edupunk – UGC/citizen journalism maybe.
    The idea of a teacher/lecturer etc acting as moderator and representative in online ed – meet the journalism community manager.
    The great thing about tools like Qik, the particular livestream software used, is it allows the journalist to relay comments from the viewer to the interviewee. So an interview could be conducted by the viewer with the journalist as their proxy.
    I’m looking at this not just from an interview process but from a training process. I could sit at my laptop while my students conduct a livestreamed interview and then comment to them about approaches, things they might want to try etc.
    I think you are right, the idea of this personal relationship – the ability for us as teachers or journalists to become part of a community, to really become involved – has massive implications.
    Time (and engagement) will tell us if we are right.

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