Social and Mainstream Media Must Learn to Live Together

Business Wire/Phoenix account executive Malcolm Atherton recently attended Blog World, and had some observations about the interaction between mainstream and social media:

After spending three days at the 2009 Blog World & New Media Expo, I got the feeling that social media and mainstream media have some issues to work out.

 This was clearly illustrated when Don Lemon of CNN took part in a keynote panel titled “The Death & Rebirth of Social Media”.

 Don noted his positive and negative social media experiences, how he thinks social media and mainstream media can help one another and how social media “made me up my game [at CNN] – I have to be more accurate.” However, as JD Lasica wrote on SocialMedia.biz, when Don was asked “’Why should bloggers want to work with CNN?’ Lemon should have more artfully worded his reply — ‘The plain truth is that my platform is bigger than your platform.’”

 Perhaps that statement is part of the problem – mainstream media likes social media but doesn’t give it equal billing.

 On the flip side, during the same Q&A, one feisty blogger angrily stated that he would never share an information source with CNN or any other mainstream media outlet because “mainstream media is not interesting to me anymore.”

 Sigh.

Later that day, during a panel titled “How Social Media is Changing the Definition of News,” social media maven, journalism degree-holder, and panelist Robert Scoble stated that old school journalism doesn’t like that they have to publish in real time and do all fact checking later to stay competitive. Animated discussion ensued between panelists and the audience.  (And with good reason – mainstream media were slow to break the news earlier this year of Michael Jackson’s death, which had already broken on Twitter and various entertainment blogs; while other recent events have shown that with running with a story before fact checking comes the possibility of getting your fingers burned.)

As legacy media find themselves increasingly dependent on and successful with blogs, Twitter and other real-time publishing outlets, they’re going to have to learn to live with some different standards and protocols; social media, on the other hand, needs to account for the reputation, reach and impact of large corporate media outlets.  Bulldog Reporter shows how more journalists are dipping into the social media pool; while Search Engine Watch discusses how big players can earn respect in social media.

Follow Malcolm on Twitter at @MalcolmAtherton.

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