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In our Throwback Thursday series, we take a look at what the key figures in media were thinking in the past, based on the Journalism.co.uk archive, and how those issues can be related to the current challenges and opportunities that dominate the conversation about the digital media landscape.

Read the rest of the series here. Today, we take a look back at one of our newsrewired digital journalism conferences from May 2011, where we explored the latest trends and techniques in media, at the time with the theme "noise to signal".

This post takes a look at live blogs, emerging then as a regular fixture among some controversy; audience engagement, which is still an important part of conversations today and even a buzzword, some would say; Twitter as a useful tool for journalists but full of pitfalls; and access to public data in the UK.

‘It’s about creating a party and making it rock’

As part of the social media track at newsrewired on 27 May 2011, audience engagement was the central topic of a panel discussing the changing relationship between journalists and audiences.

Delegates heard that understanding and recognising your audience’s needs was far more important than racking up numbers of likes, followers and retweets on social media.

One of the best ways for publishers to create a buzz on social media was to collaborate with each other on initiatives.

Mark Jones, then global communities editor for Reuters and currently head of digital content at the World Economic Forum, said: “It’s not about being the centre of attention any more, it’s about creating a party and making it rock.”

‘Twitter is Reuters on acid, crack and cocaine’

A session called “Sorting the social media chaos” (a task still on our to-do lists today), looked at journalists’ ability to find and verify social media sources.

Newsrewired regulars and Journalism.co.uk readers will know that this topic has often been addressed in features, podcasts, and sessions by our editorial team, so a look back at one of the first times we debated this can shed some light about progress since.

In 2011, Twitter was a favourite for tracking down information and leads in breaking news situations.

“If Reuters is the best definition of a solid news wire service, then Twitter is Reuters on acid, crack and cocaine,” said Neal Mann, now director of content strategy at Anomaly.

He pointed to Twitter lists as an effective way to filter through the noise.

Nowadays, as Twitter’s algorithm continues to change and no longer simply displays tweets in chronological order, digital journalists should refresh their knowledge of TweetDeck and advanced search.

Related reading for any journalist looking for sources on social media:

Live blogs were the new homepage

Live blogs are permanent fixtures of most news websites today, providing an interesting and engaging format to cover developing news stories.

But in 2011, they created some controversy as the live blog way of telling the story was challenging the familiar inverted pyramid of the traditional news story.

At newsrewired, Matt Wells, then blogs editor of the Guardian, now senior editor, programming at CNN Internationa Digital, said the live blog was “the only format that has developed specifically for the digital media.”

He added that, rather than causing the ‘death of journalism’, the live blog was almost a new homepage.

‘How do any journalists in the UK do their job?’

Gaining access to meaningful data was the central topic of the keynote on the day, delivered by Heather Brooke, the journalist and FOI campaigner known for shining a light on MPs expenses, among other work.

Brooke compared the UK system for requesting public data to the US one, and found great differences.

Public bodies in the UK, she said, control the data and thus control the public perception of the story.

“We need to change an unhelpful attitude,” she said.

See you next week for more Throwback Thursday! Do you remember any predictions that never came to pass, or any quotes that were spot on from 'back in the day'? Tweet us at @journalismnews.

The next newsrewired event takes place on 22 November at Reuters in London. Key themes include storytelling for mobile, collaboration, experimenting in the newsroom and graphic novel journalism. Find out more here.

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