The objective of this half day seminar was to exchange views between journalists and public communicators on how social media is impacting journalism, and in particular media coverage of EU news. It took place on 7 October in the press centre of the EU Council in Brussels and gathered 200 participants (and 300 people following live).
IABC Belgium’s board member, Aurelie VALTAT, was one of the organizers.
The Council’s Press Room was packed like if there was an important EU summit. However, this was not about EU leaders and one or another EU crisis. It was about how the EU Council’s Press Team, headed by Nicolas Kerleroux, should deal with social media and especially in their every day contact with the accredited press.
Participants were journalists as well as public communicators, academics and EU staff.
After an opening speech of the Council’s Chief Communicator Reijo Kemppinen, the meeting started a bit slowly and the first presentations were dry and academic. Consequently, the debate on Twitter (by participants from inside the room and elsewhere) was a lot livelier. See it on Twitter using the hashtag #eusmj.
However, once Jean Quatremer took the floor the show really started! His comments on whether or not Twitter is a new form of people’s journalism where razor sharp. It’s not that you are able to blog or tweet that makes you a journalist! The man on the street can never replace journalists. Journalism is still very much a ‘métier’! But he clearly uses his blog and twitter as a powerful weapon, next to the regular articles he writes for Libération. A journalist’s job, however, is not to announce the death of the neighbours’ dog (on social media) as he said smiling. It is to analyse, interpret and add value.
During the discussion it became clear that journalists present in the room said they felt uncomfortable with certain characteristics of social media. “@yollivier For journalists there is often too much noise on Twitter.”
Holmgaard said that journalists, however, should do “crowdnursing”. Media should still be about leading the conversation on social media – so curating, editing and asking people to contribute to a story are some of the tricks used.
Others pointed out that while journalists want to lead the conversation, with social media they have to follow the conversation.
From the Council’s point of view, as Nicolas Kerleroux said, it is about embracing the “tweetosphere”. He talked about an experiment to invite bloggers to follow a summit live, e.g. with @ronpatz and @europasionaria.
The second part of the seminar was more practical and focused on helping EU institutions offer better content to journalists. Speakers and the audience shared tips on how to improve the presence of the EU on social media.
The seminar showed for me that both the media as well as the EU institutions struggle to find the right way to make social media part of their daily “bread and butter”. Good to know and good to find ways to explore these challenges together, I would say.
Archived live stream and more info at http://consilium.europa.eu/eusmj
Aurelie Valtat wrote a nice Storify about the event, see http://storify.com/avaltat/seminar-on-social-media-and-journalism-at-the-eu-c