UNESCO supports study on potential of social networks for journalism
The Colombian organization, Consejo de Redacción, in collaboration with UNESCO's Office in Quito and within the framework of the IPDC project, Strengthening Investigative Journalism through ICT, is conducting research on how social networks can be used for the dissemination of information.
The study, entitled Communication Lab on Social Networks, began in September 2010. By illustrating the most effective communication strategies using social networks, this study aims to elucidate how they can be exploited to provide alternative sources of information, and allow communities and journalists to propose their own news agendas.
It is now commonly accepted that social networks are an essential tool to reach wide audiences. Political campaigns, lobbyists or traditional media have realized that social networks provide an opportunity to increase their outreach. In addition to the showcasing features, Web 2.0 social networks allow direct interaction with members, making it possible to design communication strategies based on member profiles and permitting any individual or community to disseminate information, to have more social impact and to influence the news agenda.
Although it is a fact that social networks are excellent information platforms, it is less clear how they must be used to maximize their potential in the field of journalism. Based on this, Consejo de Redacción is developing the Communication Lab on Social Networks. This research attempts to answer the following questions: What are the communication strategies that generate audience through the use of social networks? What kind of stories are most widely shared and discussed? What is the news agenda of Internet in comparison with traditional media? What use should be made of new platforms? and What language should be used? The study has intentionally avoided any publicity with partner organizations so that its findings can be extrapolated to any journalist or entity with a limited networking and information capacity.
The study started with the setting of a journalistic blog and its dissemination through different social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Youtube, Tumblr and Podbean. The blog has already attracted a significant number of members (1,153 page views and 328 fans).