Posted by: alansylvestre | November 23, 2014

Why do we communicate?

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 3.23.35 PM

When discussing communication issues, I believe it’s of the utmost important to talk about not how we as communicators can not just inform the community, but how we can engage with the community. A high school near Ferguson is doing just that.

McCluer North High School neighbors Ferguson, Missouri, where 72% of students are white according to a recent study. When the students returned to school this year, the newspaper and yearbook staff had a choice to make. They had the option to continue to report relative stories to the community, or find a way to pay tribute to the recent protests and riots that took place in Ferguson.

They decided to create a series of stories, in collaboration with the yearbook staff, that were all relative to Ferguson. Some of them were news stories about what happened, and others were first person accounts of the events that unfolded. Each story was a different form of storytelling that contributed to a larger goal. According to the editor-in-chief in a recent report published by The Poynter Institute, the goal was to not inform the community about these events, but work to promote conversation around these topics, to find solutions.

I think it’s important as professional communicators to realize that regardless of our specializations, we must not forget that communication is a fundamental method for provoking change and reinforcing and advancing the democratic process.






Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | November 22, 2014

Vote for your favorite Week 8 post here!

Posted by: stratcommpdx | November 20, 2014

Like, tweet, share, and comment: new pathways for Journalism

A research conducted by the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation examined the characteristics of news consumers across 11 social networking sites. The results – Reddit (62%), Twitter (52%), Facebook (47%), Goggle Plus (30%), Tumblr (29%), You Tube (20%) etc. – reveal that significant part of users obtain their news from these sites.

This significant social media engagement has transformed news organizations and opened pathways for a more participatory relationship between journalists and audience. The paper Reciprocal Journalism defines this engagement and “the overall process of audiences participating with journalists and with each other in creating news and building community around news” as participatory journalism (Singer et al. 2011).

Participatory journalism is a significant progress in the news making process and helps news organizations and journalists to echo the voice of the community across media channels. Overall these studies prove that dialogue is a communication trend that will influence news organizations priorities and strategic decisions.

Posted by: Rachel Fleenor | November 20, 2014

Building trust in a good cause through social media

Currently, I have been in the midst of a series of social media/communications challenges having to do with a recent social awareness campaign my work just launched. I work for an organization dedicated to improving public education for Oregon’s students. As I read the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, I kept applying it to my situation. Edelman’s three-step approach to “establishing context” and progressing in a positive manner with stakeholders was especially pertinent to my situation.

First, Edelman says we, as the organization, must “seek input” from the community, which in my case could include the students, teachers, and administration of a school – as well as parents, politicians, business owners, my own company’s employees, etc. Essentially, my range of stakeholders is enormous.

Secondly, Edelman encourages advocacy. The campaign needs to have specific goals with tangible outcomes.

Finally, Edelman stresses the importance of continual evaluation. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point of having targets that are measurable. It is important to show progress, report on metrics/analytics, acknowledge weak areas, and recalibrate to better meet goals.

Something I have found, however, is that the public is wary of causes/challenges/campaigns, even if they are for a good cause. So, how can that change?

Thinking beyond my campaign, I looked at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. By having an ordinary person spread the word about the cause via social media, the ALS Association was able to spread the message from one person to that person’s friends, who in turn spread it on to their friends.

Posted by: chrisforde915 | November 20, 2014

Give, Receive, Repeat- Connecting Individuals and the Community

A decision by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, is due at any time. The shooting on August 9 of Michael Brown in Ferguson, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer triggers many reactions across the country. Not surprisingly, individuals continue to react differently and hold strong stances on the events that are being broadcasted throughout the country.

While completing the readings for this week, I quickly recognized the role that indirect reciprocity has played, particularly within the last few days as a decision grows closer.  Molm, Collett, and Schaefer (2007) define indirect reciprocity as the act in which the beneficiary of an act returns the favor not to the giver, but to another member of the social network. Earlier this week, as I was searching for updates online from trusted organizations such as Dream Defenders and the Urban League of Portland, I discovered a new resource being shared with the community.

Ferguson national response network has provided a list of planned responses around the country to the Darren Wilson grand jury announcement. The list which is being shared actively on SNS, such as Facebook, Twitter and even Tumbler provides the community with the location, time, and place to organize and rally the day following the verdict. This aided in providing support to Baker and Dutton (2006) position, that when individuals work together, information is shared more quickly which provides the resources to meet the needs of individuals and the community.


Posted by: reddingrob | November 20, 2014

Let’s leave the community building to the comments section.

While reciprocity is a key to building trust in a social network, it is not key to journalism. At the end of their essay, Reciprocal Journalism, the authors say that it is more of a way to understand the journalist-audience relationship in a community. The prime way an audience engages with a news story is in the comments section. The journalist finds the story, does the reporting, and writes the story. The story is the basis for discussion and the comments are where the community has their discussion.

How would reciprocal journalism work? Yes local stations do use tweeted pictures of monster snowstorms, but I see that as the extent of audience participation.  I would argue that the reciprocation is that the journalist gets a page view and the audience gets compelling information.

As a news consumer I would much rather read a story by someone who spent two hours tracking down, and getting a quote from just the right source than someone who spent those two hours answering questions from their Twitter followers.

The authors argue that the audience is less engaged when they are not active participants in news judgement and presentation. That is true, but when I take my car to the mechanic, I’m not actively involved in the repair process. I agree with the authors that there’s a transaction cost for engaging with the audience. Audience engagement shouldn’t get in the way of reporting a story.

The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer marked the biggest gap between the public’s trust in government and businesses recorded since 2001 (when Edelman first began conducting the study). One of the biggest reasons for this gap is due to the government’s reliance on a top down communication approach, particularly when it comes to receiving information from world and government leaders. Social activists, on the other hand, have adopted communication strategies that push both indirect and direct messaging with sustained reciprocity. Businesses have taken note and have begun to adopt this model – earning more trust from the public.

If, in fact, life satisfaction is a prerequisite of social trust, what does this say about the future of our jobs, friends, governments, and communities? Huge, multinational companies are taking note that new interactive media allows users to engage in and build social groups online (via our media consumption). Unilever recently encouraged 70 million consumers to sign up for its Project Sunlight campaign and pledge acts of environmental mindfulness. Microsoft’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial and Bing’s Heroic Women of 2013 ad both highlight the veins of social change present in each organization.


These are for-profit companies, gaining the trust of their consumers by motivating social change and illuminating the impact they have on the world.

Is there a sweet spot where businesses will adopt the rituals of social change in order to engage consumers? Companies can make more money by doing more good – thus setting the standard of what it looks like to truly interact with a consumer. Will it stick?

Posted by: katieaoreilly | November 19, 2014

Para-social Capital

Conan tweet

Social networks: Where we go to connect, interact, keep in touch. They are a wonderful resource, allowing people to maintain relationships across time and space without in-person interaction. Valenzuela, Park and Kee (2009) say that online interactions encourage individuals to expand and diversify their social circles, thereby increasing their social capital. It leads me to wonder though, is all social capital created equal?

Researchers remain divided on the true impact social networking sites have on users. Our course readings suggest that the impacts are largely positive but others, including author Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone, 2000), worry that decreased in-person interaction actually leads to a decrease in social capital because opting into online communities allows people to become less engaged in physical communities.

Both online and in-person communication offer reciprocity, but it is how these relationships are perceived by SNS users that interests me. When individuals are able to interact with the media they may feel a higher level of closeness to a source, but in reality the relationships formed online can be very one-sided (Hash & McCutcheon, 2001), which is where para-social relationships come into play. Following Conan O’Brien on Twitter gives me a view into his life and the sense that we are closer than we truly are, but what does Conan O’Brien know about me? By expanding my social circle online to include people I will never meet in person, am I really increasing my social capital, or is it just my perception? What am I giving up by staying online?

Posted by: Rachel B. | November 19, 2014

I Click, Therefore I Am

Gone are the days when a trusted news anchor would appear on my t.v. screen at 6pm sharp, and I in my kerchief and papa in his cap would hunker down for a long winter’s viewing of the day’s newsworthy headlines.

First of all, I don’t own a t.v. Second, according to Lewis, Holton, and Coddington’s article “Reciprocal Journalism” (2014), I don’t find as much value in a one-way stream of didactic dialogue as I would in a more reciprocal environment. AKA the comment section below a news article online.

I simply can’t read their article without constantly stopping between sentences and saying something to the effect of “man I wish that was true!” in my head.

Because I do. I do wish it was true that simply allowing for more exchange and communication between news gatherers and news consumers would lead not only to increased engagement, but also renewed respect and appreciation for the journalistic craft.

The problem is that engagement actually looks like this:


The viewer engagement sought by news agencies consists of audience clicks, likes, shares, and participation in idiotic polls about the true nature of Anderson’s candle’s aroma.

The very articles that these click-happy readers consume are crafted and distributed based on statistics and algorithms that belittle human intelligence and basic norms for what is, in fact, newsworthy.

And worst of all? The catching millennial notion that the really important news will simply bubble up to the top of my newsfeed.

What kind of lazy, entitled expectation is that? If reciprocity is reinforcing the notion that news is what my friends are talking about, then I have to step back and protest.

News is not the Holderness family and their adorable Christmas jammies.


News is not Kim Kardashian’s full moon on the cover of Paper magazine.

Yes, I have shared links to both of these examples. So any algorithm can assume that these stories are important to me. I hate that I click, and yet I do. But I don’t want these links to be interpreted as newsworthy simply because I viewed them.

To make the idealistic version of a reciprocal and community-minded news gathering and disseminating society outlined in “Reciprocal Journalism” a reality, we must find a way to overthrow the maddening and all-pervasive power of algorithms that indiscriminately prioritize our interactions on the mere basis of clicks.

Posted by: jstrieder | November 19, 2014

There May Be Less News on Twitter Than You Think

“Reciprocal journalism” is a hot buzzword these days, as exemplified by this white paper. It directs journalists’ attention to interacting with readers on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, stating that social media can disseminate news and build followings efficiently in the Age of the Smartphone.

Of course, all revenues garnered on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook go to, respectively, Twitter and Facebook. The authors of the white paper admit as much: “Nor may it be possible for every news organization to mediate indirect and sustained reciprocity around hashtags or Facebook groups, as we have described. Simply put, there are transaction costs associated with engaging audiences … “(11)

Perhaps because of that, social media is generally used to promote, not inform. On Twitter, for example, most top-trending subjects worldwide are commercial promotions or celebrity gossip. I captured this screenshot just a minute ago:

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#Rampal is an embattled sect leader in India. He’s news … but an overwhelming number of the relevant tweets were reactionary, conversational and didn’t tell me his story.

#pplsforum refers to a televised debate between candidates for Premier in Australia. That’s related to news, but it’s really just a promotion for civic engagement. I had to do a Google search to even determine what office was at stake.

The rest – all gossip and entertainment. In fact, most are sponsored promotions: Pizza Hut, the movie “Mockingjay Part 1,” People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, a talk show on Comedy Central (thus, CatVideoGames).

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