Reflecting on social reporting or enabling social reporters

Picture 25.png[Summary: A personal learning reflection on digital reporting from events – enable people to report, don’t report on their behalf…]

I’ve facilitated young people as ‘roving reporter‘ and ‘digital journalists’, or even, in the terminology David Wilcox is developing, ‘social reporters‘, at events before – and I’ve acted directly as the digital reporter at a few events in the past.

However, trying to blog and digitally report from the annual conference of the Association of Principal Youth and Community Officers on Monday I found it surprisingly challenging to tap into the buzz of the event and build up a coherent blog record of what was going on. That’s not to say we haven’t managed to provide a good foundation for online discussion and networking between APYCO members in the future – but it did get me reflecting on the difference between being the reporter and facilitating the reporting process.

Supporting young people to be the digital reporters at events about young people has always made sense. Given the skills to operate video cameras and update the blog – young people are then able to go out into a conference or event and use their insights into the issues that affect them to ask the right questions. Holding the camera or the Dictaphone, and being in control of the blog, alters the usual balance of power between young people and adults in the conference setting – and generally produces great results.

So why didn’t I work with APYCO to equip a number of the youth service managers there to be the social reporters – to go out an interview their colleagues and to talk about the issues that affect them? Time & resources perhaps. And also not having yet had the experience of digital reporting from a managers event to reflect on. But I’ll certainly make sure I take the enabling others to report approach in the future rather than taking on the reporting role directly.

4 thoughts on “Reflecting on social reporting or enabling social reporters”

  1. I’m with you, aspirationally at least, in helping others report at events – though of course it does depend a lot on the skills and inclination of those involved. Young people go for it, senior managers probably don’t … though it would make a lot of difference to the feel of events if they did!
    What interests me (like you I think) is how far it is possible to introduce social media into an event in way that makes the whole thing more creative and conversational.
    Sorry I couldn’t get to the Barcamp. May be time for a get-together of social reporters, or whatever we choose to call ourselves.

  2. Interestingly, I don’t think it is because you were reporting on senior managers – more likely that you were “social” reporting on, possibly for the first time ever, an event that had a range of people who didn’t understand the importance and power of digital media. Being one of those senior managers” who were present, and also being the one who had made the commitment for a “social” reporter to be present, I felt I let the process down by concentrating on the (and I hope I make this understandable) “real” now – the interaction of the participants in the “here and now” – who were providing “realtime” feedback! I need to move my thinking to understand that “realtime” doesn’t have to mean what I may be able to physically touch. Having you there, Tim, as a social reporter, has helped me in that. I don’t think we’ll ever have another conference (gathering) where “social” reporting doesn’t take place!

  3. I think its been really interesting seeing more & more of this approach over the past year – I think theres a next stage though which is to start working towards more interactions from those that are viewing the ‘social reporting’ in real time.

    For an event like this I think it would be most relevant for those ‘reporters’ to be the people who would most like to ask questions of that audience – in this case for example a team of reporters made up of say a full time youth worker, a part time youth worker and a youth club member would have been interesting in terms of what questions they ask etc. Obviously easier said than done but maybe in the future there could be a role for recruiting relevant volunteers in advance of the event to act in that social reporter role and supported by expert guidance

  4. To take David Wilcox’s comment first – I’m definitely interested in how the use of social media / social reporting at an event makes it more dynamic and conversation – and how to bring the crossing over and weaving of conversations that the web enables into physical space – without disrupting the conversation that good physical ‘real’ space encourages by interjecting lots of screens and phones and digital gadgets.

    I was struck with the digital reporting Steve Lawson and others were running at Greenbelt Festival (e.g.)this summer that that event at least is somewhere I see as a place to be away and freed from gadgets and technologies to think – and the digital reporting risks disrupting that… although in the case of Greenbelt (and I think in the sort of example Mike is describing) the reporting is more for those not at the event than for those at the event.

    That is – social reporting is there as a bridge – not necessarily to make the event itself more conversational (social reporting may help that – but that perhaps needs facilitation more than social reporting) – but to build a brige between those at the event and those not present but with a stake in the topics being discussed.

    As a quick reply to David Whewell – I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that because it was senior managers that the social reporting was trickier. Most groups are unfamiliar with the idea. I was reflecting more than I would instinctively think with a young people’s event of getting young delegates involved in the reporting – but the thought of getting delegates involved in reporting at the APYCO event didn’t occur to me till afterwards. A personal learning reflection for me on the need to treat adults and young people equally… 😛

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