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Here is the e-mail I’ve got several times this month here in Forbes from social media department. They are rolling several balls at once including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Windows Live and so on. How many accounts do you have among these? How many accounts should I have not to feel lazy as a journalist? Yes, we are getting even busier than ever.
In early 2000s, Korean social network service Cyworld hit a home run with 19 million users. Practically every South Korea in their 20s and 25 percent of the total population had Cyworld accounts. Members cultivate relationship by forming Ilchon or “friendships” with each other through their minihompy. Avartars and “mini-rooms”, small, decorate-able, apartment-like spaces in an isometric projection, also feature.
However, the number of its user had dropped and most minihompy is not active any more. Normally people who already knew each other became Ilchon and shared private messages, photos and music. You could have deepened your personal acquaintances but it was rare to get engaged to strangers in Cyworld. It was a kind of broadened private arena but you seldom give and take professional opinions each other because normally your Ilchon is your school friends, families and coworkers.
As users want more professional cyber place to share their opinion and information, Cyworld lost its frequent users surprisingly fast. People moved to blogs. Just a few years later, Facebook and Twitter became dominant social network service in Korea. Users transferred to more open-minded and fast-sharing ground. If Milton were still alive, he would call Facebook and Google modern-day Areopagitica.
Arthur Miller, the American playwright said a good newspaper was like “a nation talking to itself.” It was editors and reporters who had all the say in the past. The media is finally letting the audience join, too. Journalists decided what to report in the past but everyone can make a public issue now. People report and distribute it by themselves via social network service. We journalists are pretty much busy following people. We are not in the front row any more. This makes me bethink what differently I have to find a story and write it.
To quote Paul Ford in New York Magazine, social Media have no understanding of anything aside from the connections between individuals and the ceaseless flow of time: No beginnings, and no endings. These disparate threads of human existence alternately fascinate and horrify that part of the media world that grew up on topic sentences and strong conclusions. This world of old media is like a giant steam punk machine that organizes time into stories.
Obsessed with Facebook or not, it makes us think about how journalism is in danger of being reduced to soulless, disjointed nuggets as blogging platforms and reporting, too. How much time do I have to spare for social network service for searching and sharing? How frequently do need to update my Facebook homepage?
It seems that I have no choice but to being a social media myself.
Since enabling consumers visiting Forbes.com to use IDs and passwords from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social accounts to sign up and comments, its registrations and comments have doubled. My home publication Money Today—Korean daily business newspaper—is also operating social media team but it’s not that successful so far.
Korean media companies are struggling to increase visitors using social network service, but most Korean reporters are not really active to do. Sometimes they post their articles and comment on social issues as well, but Facebook is more oriented for reinforcing private relation just like Cyworld. Twitter is an issue-following tool. However, most Korean reporters feel pressure to check real-time issue. This is why my home publication launched social media team separately and all of its members are reporters. There’s no technical staff or social media expert.
Starting my career as a reporter 9 years ago, I’ve learnt from my senior editor that a journalist says only by his article. “Don’t speak too much. Your article should show everything you want to say.” But I guess I might be more talkative in social media world whether I want to be or not.
Things change. People change as well.