The future of media – Mashable boss gives an insider's view
Mashable associate managing editor Emily Banks is heading for Auckland for the Project Revolution conference at AUT University Aug 30-31.
Focussing on technology and social media news, Mashable, is one of the hottest new media outfits on the net. It was founded in 2005, making it ancient in internet years.
And Ms Banks, while still young, has endured her share of old media pain.
After gaining a journalism degree, she joined the Star Tribune, a large circulation (335,000) paper covering the "twin cities" area (Minneapolis-Saint Paul).
She was laid off six months later and re-booted her career with a switch to public television before landing in New York where she joined Mashable, getting her foot in the door as a copy editor.
Where the Star Tribune had layers of bureaucracy, Mashable "is more like a college newspaper", Ms Banks told NBR ONLINE in a phone interview from New York.
"The pace is different, the age is different, it's more open to new things."
Many old media sites have now caught up with the likes of Mashable in terms in areas like the immediacy of the online news cycle, and use of multimedia.
But in other areas, attitudes have been slower to change.
Comments is one. Mashable writers will often mix it up in exchanges with readers.
But journalists on traditional sites tend to think, "Don’t comment on your own stories. They think it's beneath them, like journalists are up in some ivory tower" (not an issue at NBR, incidentally).
Another key area of focus for Ms Banks is the influence of mobile devices on Mashable.
The rise of smartphones and tablets has changed the way stories are present – especially from the standpoint of graphics, which now have a new emphasis on big and simple.
She is also interested in using social media to boost brand presence and drive traffic, an area where Mashable has been a pioneer through Twitter (where its main account has just under three million followers), Facebook (where it has just under one million) and now through emerging channels like Pinterest and Google+.
At the Project Revolution conference, Ms Banks will talk about how news breaks and who breaks it. As we remove the layer of authority provided by news organisations, by placing the news directly in the hands of journalists on social media, how do -- or should -- our readers approach the news? Ms Banks will discuss tools for verifying news through social media, cases of misinformation caused by the rapid nature of breaking news on social and the ethical questions involved in reporting in this new age.
The conference will also feature Alec Ross, the strategist behind US President Barack Obama's social media election campaign and now senior adviser for innovation to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Other speakers will include Google global ambassador Michael T Jones, plus ReadWriteWeb founder Richard McManus, Professor Jim Macnamara (University of Sydney, former company founder/director), Professor Graham Murdock (Loughborough University, renowned media analyst), Christopher Barger of Voce (formerly with GM and IBM) and Dan Neely (Wellington Emergency Management Office).
Well-known local Twitterati on the speaker list include The Science Media Centre's Peter Griffin, Clemenger's Thomas Scovell, .99's Mike Wilson, Lowndes Jordan partner Rick Shera, MediaWorks' Cate Owen, Xero's Courtney Lambert and Stuff's Greer McDonald.
Partnering AUT University in the conference is the US Embassy, Wellington, and Social Media NZ.
The conference will be held at AUT University on August 30 and 31 this year.