Speaking Out Of Turn – from Citizen Journalists to Whistleblowers

Some notes and pictures from the Chat Republic event at the American Center, on 13 June.

Organizations are going beyond the ‘blabbing’ phase of using social media, to craft more thoughtful, business-focused strategies for customer / audience engagement.

Dipnote – the State Department – and Dell are good examples of using ‘media’ to different ends. In the book, I feature Dipnote, as one of the pioneering government blogs that dared to use a format and a platform that was not exactly popular in tight-lipped institutions.

Dell, uses a Social Media Listening Command Post to be closer to its customers. It runs a virtual war room, with full-time employees who listen to the chatter.

Many people question social media as if it is some sort of object that comes in a box –and ought to also include a set of instructions. If you like to give it a tangible quality, think of it not as an amplifier, but an antenna. en, Even then, no box will contain it.

I then opened up the topic of podcasting, and how it was different from its old media cousin, broadcasting.

As this was a seminar-style discussion, there were good examples of how print media is using print and digital to create ‘breadcrumbs’ back to the readers. Also in the audience was a member from a grassroots organization I had featured in the book (in one of the Bonus Chapters at the end of the book, and he updated us on the programs involving teaching English and blogging.

And finally, we addressed Citizen Journalism. From Abraham Zapruder, one of the most remember ‘accidental’ or citizen journalists – he caught on tape the Kennedy Assassination. To the brave amateurs who risk their lives to tell a story no one else is privy to.

Oddly enough, even as we were speaking, a larger story was unfolding of someone who has dared speak out of ┬áturn – the Edward Snowden affair. I can see this topic come up in the next two weeks, even though phone tapping is not a social media problem per se. It is, after all, related to the ancillary, hairy issues social media skeptics bring up: too much transparency, and how vulnerable it might make any institution. But that’s not what my book is about. But, hey, I’d be happy to discuss in another forum.

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