Chad Blair: Aloha everybody and welcome to another installment of the Pod Squad. We’re back after a bit of a hiatus. I was taking a lot of vacation time, thank you.
As always, Chad Blair with Honolulu Civil Beat. Joining me today is our latest hire, it’s Anthony Quintano, who is going to be our “social media wiz,” that’s the word I’m going to use, you’re the wiz, if ever there was a wizard that was … it’s probably another title for that, I’m guessing coordinator, something like that …
Anthony Quintano: Well my title here is engagement editor.
Blair: Oh boy, blew it already. So I have to call our engagement editor.
Blair: Okay, I prefer wiz, but I guess I’ll work on that. And Bob Ortega, our managing editor. Bob, your second appearance on this show, and a fairly recent hire as well at Civil Beat.
Bob Ortega: Yes that’s right, and I’m very happy to be here.
Blair: Well we’re going to talk about social media because we want to get Civil Beat out there in the world, more than we’re doing now, but to start off, can you set the scene a little bit Anthony, of what the status is of social media in journalism. Don’t go into too much detail, but give me a sense of how it’s evolving and what we’re looking at right now in the industry.
Quintano: Well, we’re seeing a flood right now. Everyone’s finally taking it seriously and a lot of people are jumping into the market, and now you’re seeing there’s so much news out there and you can get it so much faster than your traditional format. So, that’s good and bad. The good part is you can actually get news from the source, and that can be a bad thing because you don’t know if that source is real, legitimate, what-not …
Ortega: Reliable …
Quintano: Correct. And people don’t know who to take seriously, who’s a journalist, who’s a citizen journalist, who’s Joe Schmoe taking a picture on the side of the street.
Blair: I was thinking about the famous example during the Boston Marathon bombing in which they sent out, I believe the wrong photograph even, of the suspects, and of course they quickly corrected that. Do you remember that example happening? I don’t know if that was social media or if that was actually an AP or something else that did that but …
Quintano: There was a mix of both. There was a Reddit community that was quickly trying to identify before authorities, and with media watching everything, quickly seemed to jump on Reddit and share that information before actually verifying.
Blair: Well let me ask you this, how quickly are these things getting corrected? Is there a danger that they will not be corrected soon enough and it can go on, the misperception, the miscommunication? Or do you find that the Internet world folks are pretty quickly sorting those out and correcting the record?
Quintano: It used to be, at least a year or two ago, where it was a slow process. A lot of this stuff will still make the rounds. Nowadays, the internet is very quick to shut down or verify. You’re seeing it improve. The thing is, journalism on social media is still, believe it or not, very young and growing. There’s no static moment in growth of any of these platforms. They’re still growing and changing on a weekly basis. So, we’re just catching up and playing it by ear.
Blair: Well, tell me, what is working? What has been successful when it comes to social media in journalism? Twitter, for example, is that turning out to be a pretty successful tool to get out the message of what’s happening? I’m thinking about the Arab Spring, also what’s going on in Paris, and then San Bernardino and so forth.
Quintano: We’re getting information from the source so quickly now. I think we’re seeing the evolution of Snapchat in such a fast growth compared to the beginnings of Twitter. Twitter is actually kind of in a weird place right now, where they’re not gaining a lot of new users, and the users that are on there now are very hardcore users. The average audience isn’t on Twitter. The struggle is finding where that average audience is, and most of it is on Facebook. Facebook is still the player in the game. Snapchat is climbing faster and faster because of that younger generation.
Blair: Well okay, that’s appealing, but if I recall correctly, and I probably have this wrong, but doesn’t it disappear? Isn’t it ephemeral what goes on Snapchat?
Quintano: Yes and no. People can screenshot things and tweet them and share them on other platforms. The concept originally of Snapchat was private messaging, where you would send somebody a video or photo and it would disappear as soon as you saw it. Now there’s something called stories, which is the public version, meaning I can now follow somebody on Snapchat and watch them build a story, and that story lives for 24 hours.
Ortega: It seems though that’s kind of the trend though doesn’t it? I mean, initially Facebook started out as something just for college students at particular schools, and obviously it expanded massively. Twitter started out as something very specialized and has expanded, and we’re seeing the same thing with Instagram, with Snapchat, with Periscope. All of these things seem to start out designed for a very particular purpose or audience, and then very quickly, people find new uses and other ways of using them and they expand very rapidly.
Quintano: Very true.
Blair: Well, so you mentioned Snapchat, you mentioned Facebook, still the old standby, Twitter, somewhere in the middle, what’s not been working, or what has not been successful in terms of social media and journalism?
Quintano: Well the weird thing about live video right now is, it’s always had a hard time in the Internet space. It kind of blows up in the beginning because everyone wants to play with the new toy, but then it kind of loses interests because it’s live video, you don’t always have something live interesting to broadcast. Again it’s this hardcore audience, the journalism media audience that are using it right now, but it’s still not getting a mass audience … yet.
Blair: You know this Pod Squad is going to run next week, but just happening today, something that Bob actually pointed out to me this morning, what happened in California with the media. I believe it’s MSNBC, being allowed into the home of the alleged suspects in the San Bernardino shooting, and then putting that on live video, is that correct, going to these people’s houses, looking into their personal effects, that was shocking to me, ’cause that immediately went out on the Internet.
Ortega: Oh yeah, and of course people were taking stills to criticize it, but reproducing the same images, for example, of the mother of one of the suspect’s ID cards, which showed her address and her social security number, really a pretty egregious invasion of privacy I would say in that case.
Quintano: Yeah, and these days, once something is shown, it doesn’t die. It lives on forever, ever, ever on the Internet.
Ortega: And that’s why you always want to think twice before you push that button.
Blair: It is something to think about. It does become permanent and it’s up there instantly. Well I wanna ask you a little bit about what your plans are for Civil Beat. You just joined us, formally of NBC in New York, is that correct?
Quintano: Yeah, that’s correct. I was the NBC news social media manager for three years, and for the last year, “The Today Show” social media manager. And now, I’ve been here for about a week now.
Blair: What’s Matt Lauer really like?
Quintano: A great person. They’re all great people, very friendly, smartest people you’ll every meet … sorry. Now that I’ve met you guys, totally different story.
Blair: We will soon be the smartest people you have ever met. Without giving away the store, tell me about something that you’d like to see change at Civil Beat, that you’re hoping to implement regarding our journalism and social media, and Bob, you can chime in on what you think about that.
Quintano: I really wanna see us start utilizing more platforms and reaching our audience across multiple platforms instead of just relying on say, Facebook and Twitter. And start using more multimedia, more video. And I really want the people to get to know our reporters and our editors, the people behind the scenes putting these together, so that’s a lot of my plain in using social media …
Blair: People, consumers want to know the people that are producing the news, is that correct? They don’t want that wall that traditionally has been up there?
Quintano: Yeah, people have a tendency to get more comfortable following reporters or journalists directly, and not necessarily directly from the main source. This is why you see journalists with large followings on social media, because people like to choose where they get their news from and that’s why some people like to follow certain beats.
Blair: So Bob what does this mean, we’re all going to become Matt Drudges or Glenn Greenwalds or something like that …
Ortega: Oh God forbid we would all become Matt Drudges, but Glenn Greenwald, okay, I could deal with that. I think the point here, and it’s a very good one that Anthony is making, is that for us to be able interact with our readers, with the people that are coming on to the Civil Beat site on a regular basis, it’s helpful for them to see who we are, it’s helpful for us to be able to interact with them more directly, and it’s helpful for us to be able to present information in a variety of formats depending on what the best way to communicate may be in one particular case.
It may be some particular way of showing data, it may be that there are cases we really can tell the story most effectively through video. So those are the kinds of things we want to do. It’s all about effective storytelling.
Blair: Okay. Any final points you want to add, Anthony or Bob, regarding social media, Civil Beat and journalism.
Quintano: Just really, really expect more from Civil Beat across multiple platforms.
Ortega: I’ll echo that and I’ll just say that I’m very glad to have Anthony onboard.
Blair: Oh good, I think we all are. Anthony Quintano and Bob Ortega, it’s a pleasure to work with both of you. One other thing I just have to quickly ask Anthony. Having just started following you on Twitter, and also Facebook, what is it with you and sunrises? I mean in Hawaii they’re particularly beautiful, but you must have 20 of ’em up right now, and what is it … what are you doing up at that hour first of all?
Quintano: My body’s still slightly adjusting to the time change…
Blair: East Coast time right?
Quintano: Yeah exactly. I’ve been shooting sunrises and sunsets long before I even came here. It’s just kind of my time. And I also use it as my own quality life time, where I get to just kind of take it all in before getting into work.
Blair: You know you can see from the photos themselves, you do have a certain calmness. Guess what, we’ll try and put one of those photos up for this Pod Squad rather than another shot of me sitting around a microphone with a bunch of people.
For another installment of Honolulu Civil Beat’s Pod Squad, I’m Chad Blair, take care and aloha.