When journalists use Twitter’s powers for good, it can all at once be an engine for story ideas and source generation. It houses widespread reaction to all things. In the spirit of news gathering, tweets about Shaun White’s snowboarding gold medal and Parkland, Florida, students’ rebuttal to President Trump’s tweets are embedded to make stories.
Type “twitter reacts to” into any search engine and see how far it takes you.
Storify, which will cease to exist in May, in fact existed as a tool news organizations used to organize a prettier display of gathered tweets.
It’s part of modern reporting to use Twitter as a resource like this. That’s all The Boston Globe thought it was doing in 2016 when embedding a photo from Twitter, posted by an unaffiliated photographer, that appeared to show the Boston Celtics brass using star quarterback Tom Brady to help woo NBA free agent Kevin Durant. But the photographer sued several publications that shared it, and Durant didn’t pick the Celtics either.
This week, he won that case, with the judge concluding the publications violated his exclusive display rights — a result you should be surprised by, and one that could set a precedent for similar litigation in the future.
Now, get your notebook ready. Here’s how other news organizations could avoid the same trouble: a) ask social media users for permission to use the photo or video in a tweet, or b) embed tweets without the media attached (already an option Twitter gives you). For all the rest, embedding simple tweets from people congratulating Shaun White or rejecting the president’s prayers is still “overwhelmingly” protected by the law.
Cover your bases
It will always be better to have been proactive than reactive about your editorial policies, especially when a tragedy happens, like the one in Parkland, Florida, last week, and you suddenly find yourself covering it and trying to decide what should and shouldn’t be published. As Poynter outlines, there are a few standards you should be discussing early and often in preparation for any kind of jarring news event… because your audience may want answers.
Why are we or aren’t we showing graphic images? (This is the biggie.)
Then, specifically as it relates to a shooting, why are we or aren’t we using the name(s) of the suspect or suspects? And why are we or aren’t we describing the weapon?
Plus: Acting unintentionally as a companion piece, this by The Atlantic reflects on seemingly level-headed readers’ comments on coverage from past tragedies.
Two of my best friends from working on the college paper were photographers, so I picked up a little second-hand planning and strategy here and there. That’s essentially all the insight this Slate reporter wanted from a photographer capturing the Winter Olympics. How do you get these great photos? It’s a good, close study for any photogs, though the one interviewed makes it sound easier than it is. A few of the lessons here: Scout your location, plan for the shots you’re picturing in your head, arrive early, move around for more variety, and (duh!) know how to work a camera.
An eye for this
Rachel is single again. Before Jennifer Aniston and her husband announced their separation last week, Slate reporter Ruth Graham smelled something fishy. She’s followed celebrity relationships — studied their outcomes — and the Architectural Digest story about the couple’s Bel Air home, published a couple weeks earlier, was when she sensed something was going on. Such an article in that specific magazine has prefaced breakups before. I guess the best Hollywood gossip reporters know all the warning signs.
This also happened last week: The Winter Olympics. This piece by The Ringer’s Katie Baker, on Tara Lipinski, is as good a story about a television commentator as I’ve read. I saw The Post. It’s, for one, a really accurate representation of the tug-o-war between the corporate and editorial sides of many newsrooms across the country.