How media compagnies use Facebook

Extreme reactivity. Infinite pool of employees: all of us. A new permanent community of interconnected through Iphone and BlackBerry. It’s no longer possible to ignore the strengths and weaknesses of these new information channels” Said Janic Tremblay of Radio Canada at the beginning of huis clos sur le net, an experience invented by the Radio Publiques Francophones (union of public radio in French).

Huis clos sur le net

The experiment took place from first to fifth of February 2010. The goal: to see how five journalists imprisoned for a week could produce information only with Facebook and Twitter as source. The rules: no smartphones, no additional web sites, no radios, no TV. The ultimate goal through this experience: what information will emerges from these social networks? The reading of the world, under these conditions, is it relevant? Are we aware of the same kind of information as whit traditional media? How to collect information?

The media are rethinking the way they work and this experience proves it. They ignored all other resources and a fundamental principle of journalism: overlapping information. This experience has shown that social media are interesting source of information. Their are not beeing used anough by the journalist. The utility and strength of this technology is in the way we used it. Only using Facebook or Twitter is nonsense, especially on the internet, a interconected and cross-media


There is two kind of ways to use Facebook for media companies. Use it to get information, or to diffuse information. I had a very interesting example about the use of Facebook in the regional press. The Newspaper Aargauerzeitung used Facebook in both ways. For Thomas Roethlin, chief editor for Aarau, Facebook is fantastic, especially for local information.

Interview : ThomasThomas Roethlin Roethlin.

“  We made a report about night life in Aarau. It’s a small town, but it is in the center of the region. So many young people come here to parties in pubs and clubs. We decided in the local section to speak about that. For 12 hours, 6 on Friday night at 6 on Saturday morning, a journalist equipped with a smartphone went all over town. He took pictures and wrote short comments. All that was published live on the Facebook wall of the newspaper. The work did not stop there. We wrote an article on Monday in the journal recounting the best parties, hot spots, or where the places whit most atmosphere. This experience has been good, funny and important to be aware of the value of social networking.”

Jason Huther: will you repeat this kind of investigation?

Yes of course. I am currently on a new project. I have a same kind of investigation about the station of Aarau and its dealers. Some people are afraid and explain there stories. We would like to see what is real in those stories. But shhh … it’s still a project.”

Jason Huther: Here you used Facebook to diffuse information, but do you use it to get information?

Of course! It’s a fantastic source of information. We use it  to find people, get more info about an event. We are connected with the region. That’s a very important point. Friends on Facebook are often from the same area. So, they talk about what is happening around them. This is an advantage for regional journalists.

As we can see Facebook is useful for the regional press, but as always problems exist. Some newspapers use Facebook to steal pictures of people. This raises ethical issues for example in murder cases. The protection of privacy, fair manner to obtain information are central to this debate. Everything that is posted on Facebook falls into the public domain because there are no effective filters. People are not necessarily aware of that. The journalists must be especially careful because they are in the presence of an audience that does not control all these aspects. This is the base of the spirit of journalistic ethics.

With this technology, we can have the best and the worst. The professionals and the public have an obligation to set limits and decide in which information world we want to live.

Jason Huther

Finally I propose you a video that explain how to protect your phoos on Facebook:

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