Social media is not the "universal scoring system" for journalism

A highly conflicted pundit says "social shares" are all that counts

By Alex Halperin

Published June 25, 2013 3:36PM (EDT)

A man whose livelihood depends on journalism being shared on social media has declared that social media is the only way journalists have to assess their work's value. Writing on Fortune's website Gregory Galant asks you to imagine, "Thousands of hyper-competitive [journalists] competing furiously with each other, but only able to keep score by chatter at cocktail parties and compliments from their colleagues." Apparently Galant has never heard of paychecks, jobs, party invitations, speaking gigs, prizes, television appearances and book deals to mention only a few of the earthly, though rapidly vanishing, delights of a media career.

Galant is thinking of something even better, or at least more quantifiable: social media pickup.

It's hard to understate [Ed.: Um, overstate?] how much this is changing the game of online content. Publishers no longer control some of the most important analytic data. Writers know how well their work is performing in realtime. Competitors can analyze which articles are successful or duds in rival publications. As I wrote in a prior column, public relations executives can gauge the impact of a story about their clients. Even governments can monitor (without a FISA request) the resonance a muckraking story has.

This might have more resonance coming from a man with a different bio:

Gregory Galant's the CEO of Muck Rack, the social network for journalists and companies in the news. He's also the cocreator of the Shorty Awards which honors the best of social media. Galant advises several startups and is a mentor in the TechStars startup accelerator. Follow him on Twitter.

Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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