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News is no longer a one-way communication. Start to get social.

7 March 2008 Ken Yeung One Comment

As a consequence of attending Wednesday’s soiree at Ogilvy’s office in downtown DC for MashMeet DC Remix, I ran into Kimberly from Searchles who’s company apparently did a demo of their product for the folks in attendance (I didn’t watch all the PowerPoint presentations sadly). She was there to film the presentations for posting on Searchles for people to stream and watch at their leisure. In case you haven’t come across Searchles, I recommend you check it out. It’s basically Digg/Techorati/Del.i.cious mixed up with the social web to make something good and allow people to search different sites and make their own site – or at least that’s the way I understand it…

But anyways, I was talking to Kimberly and we came across this discussion about how some traditional media outlets are updating their websites and whether or not they’re just paying lip-service to the masses by “saying” they have social media integrated. I say that some of them very well are…and I point to CNN as the prime example. What’s with their iReport feature? It’s just basically a way for people to use already existing social media tools to make the network’s stories more “interactive”. That’s rather lazy. Of course the common thing is to allow comments on their stories to allow people to have conversations and agree to disagree, but there has got to be some more stuff. Where’s the social personalization?

And sure enough, someone decided to blog about the media and their “socializing”. Jim Long, excellent cameraman from NBC has traveled the world extensively and I follow him and am absolutely fascinated as how he uses Twitter, Qik, and Seesmic to communicate with the masses and let’s them know about what happens behind the scenes of his adventures. The public surely wants to become more involved in what’s happening in the world and any opportunity they have should be welcome by the media. But are media folks taking advantage of this social explosion? I know that CNN, the Washington Post, and some other outlets are on Twitter, but do they have reporters out on the field filing reports on Utterz, Twitter, Qik, or placing the news on their Facebook pages or blogs to have people subscribe to their RSS feeds? I’m guessing not because networks and other media probably have standards and practices that dictate how the things are done. What ever happened about getting the message across to the people in as many channels as it takes? You’re already sending out breaking news alerts by e-mail and sometimes by mobile technology!

But going back to my earlier rant about social media. Sites like Searchles, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Digg, Del.i.cious, iGoogle, and Mashable are pretty good for making news more relevant to people. Just log into one of your “start” pages when your browser opens up and it pulls the news from a variety of sources. You can have what you think is important to you on this page. You want to find out all the news about Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer? You’ll get news from the tabloid sites, entertainment magazines, and maybe even from mainstream media. What about videos about the horrible marines who tossed the puppy over a cliff? You can get a mashup of videos from different sites like Google and YouTube. Need more presidential politics? You’ll get that. Start pages can be a great resource for all your daily news and allows you some benefit by being customized for your needs. Compare this to the other news sites that just branch out into social for a brief bit by throwing in something they think will make them more interactive like the iReport and it’s no wonder why people turn to the Internet for more of their news.

Are media going to change their ways anytime soon?

Ken Yeung is a interactive strategist, project manager, and tech journalist. He's currently a Strategy and Research Content Lead at Orange Silicon Valley. Previously, he was the Bay Area Reporter for The Next Web, the Editor-in-Chief of Bub.blicio.us and a correspondent for Network Solutions' small business blog. These words are his own and not of his employer.