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'Old' and 'new' media chiefs meeting in Seoul

Representatives of Al Jazeera, BBC, Youtube and Twitter meet to tackle the changing face of global media.

Last Modified: 05 Sep 2013 02:31
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Journalists at the conference are discussing the "revolution in communications technology" [Al Jazeera]

A forum is underway in the South Korean capital that brings together television broadcasters, news agencies, representatives of Twitter and Youtube and even a 'social media news agency' to discuss the tough question of how to break news in a time of quickly-changing technologies.

The meeting is happening shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry invoked social networks when presenting what his government said was evidence the Syrian authorities were behind a Damascus chemical attack. He spoke of watching the aftermath on social media and of proof gathered from online videos.

The statement caused some - on Twitter, of course - to quip this may be the first war prompted by social media.

The value of good journalism increases the more social noise is out there.

Mark Little, Founder and CEO, Storyful.

Many commentators, though, have already made the sometimes disputed claim, that social media has, if not prompted, then at least contibuted to some of the bigggest news stories of the last few years.

"The revolution in communications technology allows journalists in the field to disseminate text, photos, audio and video on in a flurry of real time updates," organisers of the Global News Forum said on its website.

"Adapting to these changes has proven to be a critical component in the work of news media professionals."

When the protests that came to be known as the 'Arab Spring' uprisings started in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, though Internet penetration was arguably relatively small, some used it to organise demonstrations, to boost their numbers by calling people to join and, crucially, to report what was happening. 

Major news organisations also began to use social media more to tell stories during this period.

"I think of it as a giant speech bubble for what's happening in the world," Riyaad Minty, head of social media at Al Jazeera, said in an interview at the time.

The reporting uses of social media have become even more vital during Syria's war with so many media organisations finding it difficult to report one of the most dangerous conflicts in history for journalists.

To discuss these issues and others in Seoul, the Global News Forum has invited organisations including Al Jazeera English, BBC, CNN and the Associated Press to meet with the top social media firms.

The event will also be attended by an organisation that straddles both worlds, as a "social media news agency". Storyful, headquartered in Ireland, rakes through the masses of information on social networks related to breaking news and then verifies videos, information and photographs for use by news organisations.

"Storyful wanted to be part of the forum because the conversation about innovation in journalism is too often dominated by a European and US mindset," Mark Little, Storyful's founder, told Al Jazeera from Seoul.

"Social media does not pose a threat to journalistic standards, as long as journalists stick by the eternal values that define their profession. The value of good journalism increases the more social noise is out there."

The forum is being streamed live at the following link: http://aje.me/17FkXmd. The schedule is here. And you can follow, and join, the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag .

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Al Jazeera
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