March 4, 2015

Curate Don’t Automate

James Neufeld by James Neufeld

The internet is making a stir about TSN’s blunder. They put an inappropriate Tweet on-air and legal teams are up in arms. The gist of it; they put, what has now become a libellous Tweet, on live Television during a major broadcast event.

So far the online reaction has been wondering how that Tweet ended up on-air in the first place. While I can’t tell you exactly how, I’ve got a pretty good idea. As someone who’s been behind many of these types of setups and workflows – I’ve witnessed some very poorly executed workflows that are asking for exactly these types of mistakes.

First: The biggest mistake I’ve witnessed too many times is the trust that broadcasters and media companies put in automated solutions. Yes, your fancy social media aggregator can filter out anything on the FCC naughty list – but, case in point, nothing on this Tweet would be caught by any filters.

Second: Social media responsibilities are all too often put in the hands of the least qualified staff. I myself have pushed Tweets to live television on some of the worlds largest networks – without any qualifications, restrictions, or approval processes. Just someone sitting in a production gallery sending Tweets to air for millions of viewers. This is pretty common.

Unfortunately, this happens with some frequency. Remember the male anatomy lesson on  KVDR Denver? Or Rex Harrington speaking his mind on religion on CTV’s Amazing Race social media hub?

This isn’t a matter of tech failure. It’s a failure of process. We have strong editorial guidelines and practices for every other aspect of broadcast – but there is a large neglect for social media processes and standards.

One of the biggest requests we get at SAM is to automate processes. These examples above are a large reason why we don’t automate. What should be hand crafted, diligently selected and produced with the same care as any other part of broadcast storytelling should not be automated.

Happy Curating Everyone!