Social & new media tactics: Generating and curating provincial news

As part of my lecture series for mid-career journalists at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism, I held a class today on leveraging new and social media for news managers dealing with provincial news in Sri Lanka. Noting that the basis of this presentation was the generation of news from the provinces in a manner that also used new media (most provincial journalists still file their reports either through voice calls or by faxing hand written copies), I said that separate from this, those in Colombo in charge of news curation needed to be aware of the information already generated from the provinces through citizen journalism, as well as train themselves on how they can manage this growing range of information better.

I concentrated therefore on both news generation as well as news management using tools like Google Reader, Seesmic Look for Twitter and Google’s own updated news feeds.

See my earlier lecture on Social media: An introduction to practical uses during elections here.

What is interesting about the class composition is that the SLCJ mid-career course is that it brings together journalists from both State as well as Private media. It is a great mix of journalists both well versed with new media, or at least aware of its potential, and those very keen to learn, but without institutional support to do so. As was noted today by a journalist from State media, media and journalism in Sri Lanka is heading into a new paradigm based on new media, and journalists from both State and Private media will be left behind if they don’t have the means to access this media. Another provincial journalist, who for decades had filed reports to a well known private newspaper group, said that what he learnt today would help him create his own media from reports that were rejected for publication, yet dealing with issues vital to provincial communities / audiences.

I brought up the example of Saru Praja Radio in Nissankamallapura, where last year I spent a few days spent developing media capacities for community radio online. It was an eye-opener as to how advanced some rural communities were in adapting and adopting new technologies to meet their information needs.

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