War and Peace and Social Media

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts: war and peace and Israel.

I just read a blog post positing that social media could have the power to interrupt aggressions between Iran and Israel. Read it here.

As has been in the news lately, the leaders of those two countries are ramping up their rhetoric as they point figurative warheads at each other. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, added some perhaps unintentional comic relief by drawing a rough sketch of a bomb during his talk at the United Nations last week. This, after Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, delivered a fiery speech against the “Zionists.”

While leaders have political clout, we the people have social media clout.Israel Loves Iran

The Israel Loves Iran campaign, started by a group called the Peace Factory, is a Facebook page that has more than 87,000 likes as of this posting. Its message has appeared on buses, on flyers, on videos. It brands itself as “A bridge in the Middle East between the people.We are not enemies. We love each other.”

If the power is with the people and not with power-hungry, nuclear-warhead-toting heads of state, then all will be right with the world. People who have seen war do not want war. Iranians and Israelis have lived through their fair share of bloodshed, heartache and international criticism. Their collective voice rings loud and clear through this campaign. Now, the only catch will be if their plight can be loud enough for their leaders to heed.

The power of social media is tested again.


On Media and Twitter

Posted by Shoshana

Here is an excerpt from a chat between BTW, WTF?!?! co-creators Shoshana and Aleza about Twitter and the changing face of journalism. Shoshana (who will receive a master’s degree in journalism from Iowa State this summer) interviewed Aleza (a web writer/editor) about her experiences using Twitter on the job, and some of her thoughts about it:

Shoshana: Ok, so tell me about how you use twitter in your job.

Aleza: Primarily I use it to promote our blog and the stories I write for the site. If I want to try and drive traffic to a particular blog or story I will post a tweet with some sort of tease and a link to the article. I also tweet about interesting events or tidbits I receive information on via a press release or through an interview. This helps to increase the visibility of my company’s brand while also promoting our clients.

Twitter is still so new, I am still trying to find ways to use it. Its an ever evolving process.

S: Does it work in helping to drive traffic?

A: Yes, we get a lot of retweets. Also, the company uses different applications to track how many clicks our links get, and the numbers are high.

S: Do you feel like twittering has transformed how you do your job?

A: Transform it, no. But it is another way for me to reach out to contacts.

A lot of times if I tweet about something I wrote, it will be retweeted by some of my “followers” which provides an even bigger opportunity to reach readers. If my contacts for the article are “followers” they will usually retweet it as well.

S: Do you feel like there is an “art” to tweeting?

A: I think there is a certain art to it. You want to post a tweet that will interest people and not inundate them with useless information or spam.

S: Do you have any thoughts about the growing interconnection between traditional journalism and new media?

A: Well, as we all know, highly respectable newspapers practicing traditional journalism are unfortunately fading fast. Change is never easy, but I think it’s important for journalists to be adaptable and willing to try new things like twitter and social networking in order to expand their networks, stay relevant and reach audiences.

Twitter could be a passing fad, but the fact is it is getting a lot of attention right now, so why not take your journalistic skills and apply them to this vehicle? I was very resistant to Twitter at first. I just didn’t get it. But I am starting to see the value.

So many young people have or will not ever even pick up a traditional newspaper. It seems as if new media is becoming their main source of news.

Pretty much anyone can start a blog and call themselves a journalist. But hopefully the well-trained, credible writers and news sources will prevail.

S: Describe in your point of view how you think the media landscape is changing

A: Well like I was saying before: Anyone with internet access can start a blog and call themselves a journalist these days, which means the responsibility more and more is on the reader to discern credible coverage from random ramblings.

But even credible news outlets like CNN are starting to see value in this. CNN has its iReport, which allows the general public to submit photos and blogs on that which they deem worthy. And just about all credible news outlets seem to reference blogs and twitter posts all the time. Twitter is also quite often the topic of news stories.

Right now one of the hottest news stories out there centers around Neda Agha Soltan’s death during protests in Iran and amateur footage taken of her death. “Neda” was even a Twitter “Trending Topic” the other day.

I suppose bringing the general public into the mix of news coverage allows for a more comprehensive view of the world and the internet makes that possible. People always blame the media for dictating how the public thinks. Now, in some ways, the public is becoming the media.

S: Do you think this will change the way people think about journalism and media?

A: I think it will provide people with more venues for hiding behind the kind of news they want to read. For instance, Conservatives have the Drudge Report. Liberals have Huffington Post. It’s great that the internet is so comprehensive, and offers so many points of view. But in some ways, by providing so many more points of view it also makes it easy for people to stick to only their own point of view.  It’s sort of a Catch-22.

Ultimately the choice is in the hand of the reader.

You can follow Aleza on twitter at www.twitter.com/alezafree

You can follow Shoshana on twitter at www.twitter.com/shoshanahebshi