Social Media

5 Emerging Content Opportunities Your Newsroom Should Be Trialling Now

SOURCE: Poynter SOURCE: Poynter

Facebook has been coming under fire for how it describes itself recently along with its handling of trending topics and showing (or rather not showing) specific content.  Big questions are being asked about the future of the big blue misery machine but for many newsrooms just being seen would be a great problem to have.  All content is created equal on Facebook but that’s sadly where the truism ends once it goes into the endless content sausage factory.  After content is lovingly crafted in the status editor box and sent into the ether, numerous answers to questions are applied so that Facebook can determine where in the Newsfeed it should be “shown”.  Knowing and understanding what is working then becomes mission critical for many news outlets.  It would be unfair to say however that the various platforms aren’t offering newsrooms an array of tools to help newsrooms.  Below are five such tools that newsrooms are failing to jump on (for a wide variety of reasons).  With clear strategies I believe the following tools offer the next way outlets grow audiences, find news ones, make new revenue and reduce risk:

1) Facebook Live…as a programme
Reuters UK is doing a great job of extending the news product runway with Facebook’s live streaming platform, Facebook Live. Beyond simply entertaining a somewhat captive audience the team are smart and mention other products and areas of interest for the viewer during the broadcasts about the markets. Timed well in the morning with a good pace and level of depth the team has a great opportunity create a new audience and then push them around the Reuters ecosystem.  NPR, The Verge, The Young Turks and Digiday are also worth a look for inspiration.   Telescope.TV and Groovy Gecko offer teams a variety of set-ups should your strategy go beyond simply point and shoot.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Sponsorship, Product Placement, Branded Content, Partnerships, Ads…it all depends on what your brands is comfortable with… and that you don’t break Facebook’s community rules.

2) Instagram (and Snapchat) Stories…as a story

A huge opportunity springs from corporately owned Facebook in the guise of the shockingly copied Snapchat feature but with a few tweaks. Quartz, Cool Hunting and others all show the potential for this sort of reporting tool and reaching the audience that Snapchat and Instagram boast is important for any news organisation.  No-one is getting it right straight away but the numbers are impressive.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Terms of Service for Snapchat are different to Instagram but it’s somewhat the Wild West still out there at the moment.  So long as anything paid for is labelled ‘promo’ or ‘ad’ (however faint!) it is usually ok. Naturally partnering with either of these monsters (should they ask you) isn’t a bad strategy either.

3) Animated infographic video…as an entire news product
Different brands report different amounts but between 50-85% of videos viewed on Facebook are viewed without sound. A growing trend in the newsfeed is being based around silent video products (audio costs and people are generally using Facebook in a variety of scenarios where sound is undesirable (toilet, bus).  GOOD Magazine’s ‘Data Vizeo’ series is a good example.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: In-house or externally this can be done efficiently.  Companies like Wibbitz (FD: now working with Reuters) offer to create high-quality videos for very little extra work once the story has been created by the editorial team at the news organisation.

4) Facebook 360 Photos/Video…as an extension strategy
You don’t have to buy the $30,000 camera that Facebook have open-sourced to create beautiful and useful videos of news you are covering. Instead, a regular smartphone, Go-pro or a mid-range drone often will create a high-enough quality product. 360 Video projects need to be carefully thought out (sometimes a fly through adds little) but as the cost continues to fall, these interactive products can add new dimensions to reporting.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: From sponsorship to product placement – it’s all a question of ethics and transparency…

5) Messenger Chatbots…as a hook to other places
My experience with Chatbots has been clumsy to date but the technology is improving fast and will not always be so creepy and lackluster.  A good experiment, with the right product push strategy, could see some significant traffic pushed into downloading an app for example. Chatbots will also likely see a lot of attention now that Facebook has begun allowing payments to be taken through Messenger. Perhaps a new subscription model looms?
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Chatbots have the potential to revolutionise the way we consume news…if we let them. Instead of a ‘show us everything and let us decide’ model we could morph news consumption into something entirely new. Perhaps a more ‘choose your own adventure with some weighting’ type scenario feels right or maybe even as a way to personalise your reactive website experience.

Creating a valuable editorial product remains a hard thing to achieve at scale and speed especially for the “snack-news” world we increasingly live in.  While there remain some obvious focuses (video) and simple wins for Publishers, it is increasingly clear Facebook wants Publishers to pay to play in their sandbox.  While this may be grating, Facebook clearly owns the sand and sandbox – Publishers can get angry and be cautious but you could also choose to create exciting things which, if used correctly, could help you get your target group to want to exit the sandbox.

Paul Armstrong, guest writer for Inside Agency, runs HERE/FORTH an advisory that helps business leaders decide how to best use rapidly changing, disruptive and emerging technologies. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul__armstrong or contact him on

This article does not express the views of Thomson Reuters. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author.

Peter Bohan – Tales from the Trail: A Little Bird Told Me


In newsrooms around the country, it’s an old saying: “If your mother says she loves you – check it out.”

An age-old truth – you are only as good as your source.

Bedrock journalism. Good to remember as the social media universe floods us with rumors and becomes a playground for hackers.

Social media is rapidly becoming the channel for news consumers with mobile devices.

“Twitter wants to become your go-to source for news” says one recent article while a July 14 Pew Report “The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook” finds that “that clear majorities of Twitter (63 percent) and Facebook users (63 percent) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family.”

Mainstream traditional media already Tweet and post their own stories. But Facebook and Twitter are also becoming sources for mainstream media via Tweets and posts. Tweets are sprouting up regularly as sourcing on TV and radio.

That’s the danger zone: if your Twitter says she loves you, check it out.

A feed of Tweets should never be more than a tip wire – and a “live” wire, as in 1,000 volts.

Hoaxers are more active than ever. And hackers – from hoaxers to spoofers, from identity thieves to money launderers, from government spies to terrorist groups – are finding the water fine in the social media universe.

At the other end of a “county news release” may be the North Koreans or the Syrian Electronic Army. Or my own new favorite: Russia’s Internet Research Company.

Sept. 11, 2014. News of a toxic plume at a Columbia Chemicals plant in Louisiana began with a morning text message to a local resident and was spread quickly as “hundreds of Twitter accounts were documenting a disaster right down the road” and “dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians, from Louisiana to New York City, found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster.” Islamic State was soon being rumored as behind the attack.

All fake, according to the New York Times: the handwork of crafty Russians.

“From a nondescript office building in St Petersburg, an army of well-paid ‘trolls’ has tried to wreak havoc all around the internet – and in real-life American communities,” said the Times in its June 2 article “The Agency.”

Good lord: is it that easy to pull off another War of the Worlds, as Orson Welles did?

Well, yes. And how about one a day?

May 23, 2015: Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, an African American investigating alleged abuses by cops after the death in custody of black youth Freddie Gray, says her official work twitter account was hacked – which she announces on her private Twitter account. She does not give details. But her office later denies to Megyn Kelly of FOX News that Mosby “favorited” a racially charged tweet and another one calling the six Baltimore cops charged in the Freddie Gray case “thugs.” The local prosecutor later told Kelly that both Mosby Twitter accounts had been hacked.

The point is that hackers are drilling down more into media sources, not just into media.

Do you think you –or your Twittering sources – are protected?

“To a cyber expert, traditional antivirus protection offers the hacking equivalent of being able to repel a musket ball when today’s villains are firing AK-47’s,” notes Fortune in its fine portrait this month of the devastating attack on Sony Pictures.

It’s not just corporates or government agencies being hacked. It’s the whole expanding Twitterverse.

No one is more aware of this than Twitter. Their hacking team is at and includes their handy how-to triage for victims.

So does this mean we roll back the clock and ignore social media if we want the facts?

Nope. The genie is out of the bottle. Elvis has left the building.

But as journalists and publishers it means we must use Twitter and other social media – not let them use us.

Consider the source. Load up the salt shakers. Pinch early and often.

Be like the Homeland Security official in Louisiana called by the resident in that toxic plume scare last September: “He hadn’t heard of any chemical release that morning,” the Times said. “In fact, he hadn’t even heard of Columbia Chemical. St. Mary Parish had a Columbian Chemicals plant office.”

Saved by the “n” and the “s” — and a good dose of salt.

Twitter or no Twitter: Always let the facts stand in the way of a good story.


Peter Bohan was a Reuters journalist for 30 years before becoming Executive Director of Reuters America Service, a product aimed at U.S. newspapers, web sites and broadcasters as an alternative to The Associated Press. Peter – Midwest Bureau Chief at the time – built the service starting in 2010 in tests with Tribune Company, which  became the anchor client for RAST in 2011. Peter spends more time than anyone working with U.S. newspapers to see how Reuters can address their needs.

See it to believe it: Yann Tessier on user-generated content

Yann Tessier

Yann Tessier is Senior Editor of the Day at Reuters, responsible for the delivery of global video news coverage to broadcast and online clients. We hear from Yann on the importance of user-generated content in a smartphone world.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content has been around as long as cameras. It is the people who are standing there before something unexpected happens – like the Hungarian student who was snapping away on the roof of Charles de Gaulle airport when Concorde flies into shot with its engine on fire. He gets a clip of it and he calls Reuters.

File photo shows flames coming out of the Air France Concorde seconds before it crashed in Gonesse near Paris Roissy airportREUTERS/Andras Kisgergely (25 July 2000)

How is the world of UGC changing?

YouTube says that there is 300 hours of video uploaded every minute. There are billions of smartphones around the world and the rate of smartphone usage seems to double every year. Internet connectivity is getting better, and everywhere you go there are hundreds of cameras pointing, recording, rolling across events as they happen. Increasingly, clients are turning to us to filter content and tell them what is important.

U.S. soldiers take pictures of U.S. President Obama using their smartphones after he delivered a speech at U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison in SeoulU.S. soldiers take pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama using their smartphones after he delivered a speech at U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, April 26, 2014. REUTERS/Lee Jin-man

Imagine U.S. President John F. Kennedy being shot now. You would probably have 40-50 different versions of it rather than Abraham Zapruder’s one piece of home-film footage. The Kennedy footage took ages to emerge before it hit the eyeballs of ordinary people, but these days it would have been visible online within a matter of minutes.

Tell us about your role at Reuters?

I am responsible for the day’s coverage, making sure that the video material that we gather goes out properly on our agency video service. This goes to around 1,200 television channels and a large number of internet channels. It’s my job to ensure that we are covering the right stories, and that the material gets delivered to clients as fast as possible. The bulk of our coverage is covered  by our own video news crews, but user-generated content is gaining increasing importance on big breaking stories.

How do we verify this kind of content?

Verification is critical, and that is the bulk of the work of our social media producers, George Sargent and Eleanor Whalley. If we can’t verify it then we can put it out with that warning, but our clients expect Reuters to get it right. We are basically looking for the things that make us believe it is genuine: what was the weather like, can we look at the terrain and the landmarks and match it up to Google Maps, does it have any corroboration with Reuters sources?

We spend a long time on contentious pieces of video. If there is a plane crash we might go through the videos frame by frame to check the exact shape of the smoke against other footage. There are people out there running material from the Libyan war two years ago as yesterday’s fight in Aleppo. You have to be really careful.

How do you approach propaganda footage, where groups intend that news outlets run staged videos?

Islamic State are very proactive in making high-end productions, not only of people being killed but of general propaganda which goes everywhere online. They know how to use social media to their advantage, looking up popular hashtags of the day in different language groups and using them so their material goes into people’s feeds.

On the Jihadi John video, we had to take the decision on whether to run all of it, whether to run part of it, or run nothing at all. In the end we ran the statements but not the shot of the body.

I do strongly believe that, as an agency, it is our job to source the material and not to make the subscriber’s decision for them and so we generally put out more than any individual client might use. But there is a limit and we draw the line at extremely graphic material that few or no subscribers would use. Our users are beginning to engage with us about exactly how we flag graphic material.

Are we implicated in propaganda if we do show this footage?

I think that debate could have held true five or ten years ago, pre-YouTube. There was a time that content had to hit an agency for it to gain global leverage. All Bin Laden could think about was getting on Al Jazeera. But social media has changed that, because these groups can still reach their audiences.

The other element is that while this is propaganda, it is still a story. We have to pick what we feel are the newsworthy events. Often social media is ugly. Our social media team see a lot of distress in a short space of time – ironically, they may see uglier stuff than some in the field over the same period, but we do make sure that they take care of their minds.

Are there particular times when distributing user-generated content has made a great impact?

Sometimes there are places where it is toxic for our journalists to go, and user-generated content can give us the stories we might not always be able to get at. In the case of Syria, we have a crew in Damascus, we have crews on the border, and we have in the past gone into Syria, but the daily story of Syria is actually told by user-generated content – people and activists putting their stuff online.

There was also recently a scandal in the UK around the issue of migrants queuing up in Calais to physically bust into the ports. There was nothing professional to be had, but we went onto Twitter and a truck driver had posted material which we put out and which Sky then picked up. The kind of images we were working with had huge impact, questions were asked in the House of Commons and the British are now going to invest millions in Calais security.

Sometimes we wouldn’t have a hope of shooting the material, but we can make sure we distribute it to our clients.

Migrants from Africa, Afghanistan and Syria queue for an evening meal at the Jules Ferry day center in CalaisMigrants from Africa, Afghanistan and Syria queue for an evening meal at the Jules Ferry day center in Calais, France, April 29, 2015. African migrants, gather in this northern French port city after they travelled from the Mediterranean northwards in the hopes of crossing the English Channel and seeking asylum in Britain. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

What trends are you seeing in this space?


With the spread of smartphones and social media, viral videos – videos that make you smile because they are odd, funny or visually arousing – are gaining increasing weight in popular consciousness. In addition to covering the hard news of the day, we are devoting increasing effort to tracking down what is also making people smile on the day and what is being shared. For a proportion of our broadcast and online subscribers, the question ‘what’s going viral today?’ is becoming nearly as important as ‘what’s happening in the world today.’ Reuters is now seeking to answer that question too.


Find out more about Reuters Social Video, delivering breaking news coverage and captivating light-hearted stories,created by users of the world’s social media platforms.


Tales from the Trail: What does the future hold for small newspapers?


Peter Bohan was a Reuters journalist for 30 years before becoming Executive Director of Reuters America Service, a product aimed at U.S. newspapers, web sites and broadcasters as an alternative to The Associated Press. Peter – Midwest Bureau Chief at the time – built the service starting in 2010 in tests with Tribune Company, which  became the anchor client for RAST in 2011. Peter spends more time than anyone working with U.S. newspapers to see how Reuters can address their needs.

We asked Peter to blog from time to time to share how it’s going.

Tales from the Trail: What does the future hold for small newspapers?

There has been a lot of anguished reporting this year on whether small daily newspapers have a future in the Digital Age. What’s it all boil down to?

The most interesting parts of the debate focus on two questions: what do local readers need? How do they want to receive it?

The Pew’s annual reports last month on the state of the media and in March on “local news ecology” threw some light on both questions.

As with most newspaper industry stats, the numbers are skewed by the dominance of the top 100 with 100,000 print circulation. What the struggle is like for the 1,200 or so other smaller daily papers remains in less clear.

Nevertheless, some survive-and-thrive trends for both big and small papers are coming into focus. One is a new push toward “usefulness” – trying to win back lost local readers looking for “life easing local services,” as Nieman Labs media analyst Ken Doctor calls them. (more…)

How do digital journalists juggle the need for speed and accuracy?

How do digital journalists and editors juggle the need for speed and the need for accurate reporting and verification? In this session, our panel discuss how journalists are using social media to verify breaking news and the way that this phenomenon has changed the industry.

The event was presented by the  Online News Association UK and hosted by Reuters News Agency on February 27th, 2014.

Panelists included: (more…)

The application of social insight

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo  in Warsaw
Written by guest contributor Maz Nadjm, SoMazi

We all know how important market research is – trying to bring your product or service to the market is next to impossible if you don’t know who you’re selling to. You need to know who your customer is and what makes them tick. Market research dictates the way you position yourself in the market and how you go about promoting yourself and your business. But although it’s important, the problem with traditional market research is that it’s time consuming, laborious and often expensive. This is why many companies now look to the mass of information available on social media to provide in-depth, organic and up-to-the-minute insights into their brand, their customers and much more.

So, what are the benefits of using social media to gain marketing insights and what is the best way of turning this knowledge to your advantage? Here are a few thoughts and tips for you that hopefully will shed some light on the subject:

1.  Social media is as up-to-the-minute, and honest, as it gets. (more…)

Real Time Marketing – Striking While the Iron is Hot

A photo illustration shows a Twitter message from Clarence House announcing the birth of a baby boy by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in London

Written by guest contributor Maz Nadjm, SoMazi

As the old saying goes, timing is everything. In modern business it’s the difference between being on the cutting edge and being left behind. If you get your timing right, yours will be the name on everyone’s lips. Get it wrong and you risk becoming yesterday’s news.

This saying is especially true of corporate social media usage. Real time marketing via social media can be a fantastic way of creating business opportunities by utilising the up-to-the-minute nature of platforms like Twitter – if your timing is right.

The way people interact and engage with global events or breaking news stories has changed forever thanks to social media. Sporting events like last year’s Summer Olympics in London, or global news events like the recent birth of the royal baby are all discussed widely on social media by people from all over the world who are able to engage and interact in real time. There’s an audience of millions out there, ready and waiting for you – and if you get your marketing right, then you can’t lose.


Reuters Agency Launches on Facebook

Illustration picture of application icons of Facebook Twitter and Google on iPhone next to earphone set in Berlin

As we continue the momentum of launching the Reuters Agency brand online, we’re happy to introduce our newest exciting and dynamic asset: The Reuters News Agency Facebook pagewhich showcases our products and services, as well as our support information and Reuters Pictures special promotions.

‘Like’ our newly launched page for a chance to win a copy of Reuters Our World Now, volume 6!

Taking a Partnership Approach with Clients: meet Lauren, a Reuters Account Manager

Lauren was welcomed into the Reuters News Agency team about 2 months ago, so  we thought it was the perfect time to sit down with Lauren and get her perspective on her new job, our customers and the industry. 

Reuters Agency: What made you want to transition to a sales/account management role? Why Reuters?

Lauren Kressel: In my old roles, I was responsible for developing business plans and then identifying and growing mutually beneficial strategic licensing partnerships to deliver on such plans. At Reuters, breaking news content is licensed to third parties who leverage the strength of our brand in their publications. I thrive on using strategic thinking in a fast-paced environment, identifying partners where our product can really enhance their business and working with internal teams to continually innovate and bring compelling offerings to market.

When I was looking to make a transition, I knew I wanted to work at another best in class company that has strong brand equity and is trusted by consumers and clients. Reuters made perfect sense for my next move.

RA: What have you found similar or different to your past experiences with the culture of the news organization?

LK: I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at Reuters and see my colleagues truly immersed and passionate about taking a partnership approach with clients, rather than just closing a sale and moving on to the next opportunity. There is a real commitment here, not just to deliver on the promise of providing breaking news right when it takes place, but to communicating with our clients on an ongoing basis. This helps them plan their offering effectively and ensures they have everything they need to deliver to their own customers.


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