How the business media became social

We were kindly asked by PR consultancy Maitland to contribute to a report about the impact on social media on the reporting of business and financial news in the UK.

The report was written by Dr Andrew Currah, who is a lecturer and research fellow at Oxford University, specialising in the digital economy and the future of the internet.

ItsOpen was the only social media strategy consultancy in the UK to participate in the report. Other participants included representatives from The Financial Times, The Guardian, ITV, the BBC and The Times.

A big thank you to Philip Gawith at Maitland and his team for involving us and to our clients who suggested that we be approached to make contributions.

You can download the report (it is chunky but highly interesting) from

Here are some of the points from the report which I found interesting:

The ecology of news and comment is becoming more participatory.

There are cultural, generational and operational barriers to change in the boardrooms of many UK companies.

The interactivity of social media challenges the exclusivity of business journalism. The social dynamic of the blogosphere, for example, requires journalists to view their work as a contribution to an unfolding conversation, as opposed to a finished tablet of stone that is channelled to a passive audience.

What we have traditionally celebrated as the ‘Fourth Estate’ will morph into a ‘Fifth Estate’, a network of networks in which news and comment are shaped by a wider spectrum of voices.

It would be a mistake to restrict our definition of journalism to the institutions that we currently associate with it.

Professional journalists have little interest in using web technology to artifically extend the natural life of any given story.

Publishing is being led by the crowd rather than underlying editorial judgements about what is important enough to deserve  coverage.

A growing number of newsrooms are looking to social media channels for tips, leads and assistance in shaping their coverage. That is forcing newsrooms to follow stories,sometimes without sufficient verification of the source or facts.

The linked structure of social media means that anything from a simple error to an outright hoax can rapidly permeate both the blogosphere and the traditional news media.

With more people engaged in the production and dissemination of news, there is a growing realisation among communicators that they can no longer aspire to control the news or protect stories from being contested. Instead, their best hope is to shape coverage and fix errors as fast as possible.

There is an irrational attachment to old forms of media in the boardrooms of today

The profile and value of a company is now influenced by a much broader array of news-making participants.

Social media tools help to enrich shareholder relations at a time when investors increasingly expect a higher quality of communication, irrespective of their investment, location or even language.

Corporate communicators still rely upon their relationships with established journalists when dealing with news flow and there is still a huge cultural bias when it comes to social media: the general and trade press are still seen as the real opinion formers.

For further information regarding any issues raised in this report, please contact:
Justin Hunt


or Philip Gawith

or Anthony Silverman

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  1. Social media: a stroll in the park?
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  3. The Independent on business and social media

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