Interview with Casper Vestereng, Danmarks Radio (DR)
- Jochen Spangenberg
- On July 7, 2014
How do journalists deal with content they find in Social Networks? What are current challenges and requirements? Which solutions are already deployed? We talked to Casper Vestereng of Danish public service broadcaster DR to find out!
In order to get deeper insights into how journalists work with Social Media, we talked to Casper Vestereng who works for Danish public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR). Casper’s main task at DR is the monitoring of Social Media activities and feeding issues of possible interest to the DR news departments and platforms that provide services on radio, TV and online. Here’s an extract of the interview we conducted with Casper earlier in the year (Note: Casper left DR in late May 2014 and is now working as Social Media Manager for TV3 Sport).
Jochen Spangenberg: Which Social Networks do you use professionally on a more or less regular basis?
Casper Vestereng: I use Twitter and Facebook almost daily, YouTube and Google + several times a week.
Dealing with Social Media
J.S.: Can you tell us about your professional usage of Social Networks, especially what you do as part of your job working with Social Media content?
C.V.: I don’t publish much myself, maybe one article per day. I spend most of my work day monitoring content that is posted on Social Networks, checking which profiles are mentioned most, which hashtags are being used most frequently and so on. I use Tweetdeck for doing that. Also, I have created lists of topics, journalists and politicians whom I follow. Depending on the news of the day, I add to existing lists or create new ones. When I find interesting content I communicate that to the news teams of the different DR programmes and platform teams (radio news, TV news, online news) who then use some of the stuff I provide them with. Or they follow up on stories I researched. Basically, I work as a kind of “filter” for editors of the various news teams.
J.S.: In which cases is Social Media content really beneficial to you and your job tasks?
C.V.: For finding stories and cases. To find and talk to eyewitnesses or people who have experienced something first-hand, or to illustrate a particular situation. To give you an example: if social benefits are on the news agenda, I use Social Media to find someone who receives these benefits, talk to them and, if they are suitable, pass this on to the news teams for possible follow-ups.
J.S.: Once you found information of interest, what do you do?
C.V.: If I have a contributor in one of the lists I created, and I assume he or she is a trustworthy source, I do not cross-check again. I primarily verify contributors I do not know. I do not contact contributors directly very often. Before I publish a photo from a contributor though, I always try to contact them and ask for permission.
J.S.: Whom do you follow on Social Networks?
C.V.: I follow primarily other journalists, other media organizations, experts on specific topics, politicians and opinion leaders.
J.S.: How do you engage with the audience on Social Networks?
C.V.: I ask the audience questions on Facebook, Twitter and our website. I drag in comments from Facebook to our website and use it there. Mostly, I use Social Networks for starting a debate or discussion there.
The relevance of verification
J.S.: Let us now move to aspects of verification. How do you verify content from Social Network?
C.V.: Verification is the biggest issue in news. I mainly take tweets or posts from the lists I created manually to pass on and use. These are my trusted sources. If I find content elsewhere, for example tweets from unknown sources, I
- check if they have profiles on other Social Networks,
- check if they have a website, blog or appear elsewhere to check their credibility,
- check if links lead elsewhere, or to that person, and reveal something about that person’s credibility,
- check if the content was used or shared by other trusted sources, for example other media organisations.
If it is a Danish person – in other words someone from my language or national audience – I often contact them directly to verify what they posted. If it is someone from elsewhere or with a different linguistic background I currently do it with Storyful, which I am using on a trial basis at present.
Use of verification tools
J.S.: Do you use any verification tools? What do you find most useful?
C.V.: For image verification I use TinEye. For the verification of videos and contributors I use Storyful – currently on a trial basis, as stated beforehand. For text verification I use Google. These three I consider most useful when it comes to verification. A tool that would aid in the verification of Social Media accounts and contributors would be very useful.
J.S.: If you had a wish concerning Social Media verification and dealing with related content, what would that be?
C.V.: There are two wishes I have. I’d really like some easy way to contact people and check profiles for verification. A way to contact them directly, for example via phone, mail and so on to talk to them in person would be very helpful. Getting in touch with contributors for verification is the biggest issue here. Also, I’d like to get as much metadata as possible about content items in Social Networks. By that I mean information such as when and where a photo or video was supposedly taken and so on. All this would aid in determining whether something is true and accurate or not.
J.S.: Anything else you would like to share with us regarding the dealing with Social Media content, in particular verification?
C.V.: At my organization we are at an early stage regarding verification of Social Media content. There are limits as to what we can do or publish. We don’t want to publish anything wrong or inaccurate – that’s why we are rather cautious in general. Also, there are no internal guidelines regarding verification of Social media content. Such things are being worked on. Having these in place would be useful and very important to have. Up until now, a lot is passed on by means of “internal crash courses” on Social Media usage. So in the past, it has often been up to me and my personal judgment what to do and how to deal with certain situations. This also shows that guidelines are important to have.
J.S.: Casper, thank you very much for this interview.
Photo credits: Danmarks Radio and Casper Vestereng
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