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NPR's Andy Carvin Talks Revolutions: Journalism, Social Media And The Arab Spring

(via NPR)

NPR's senior social media strategist Andy Carvin was our sole guest today on "St. Louis on the Air." 

Carvin touched on his beginnings, his role as a "information DJ" and how he pieces together truth in real time.

How does he describe his job?

Carvin said one of the best ways he can think of to describe what he does is a "journalistic test pilot."

"I use the word storytelling because...not everything I do could be considered journalism."

"Someone once referred to what I do as 'information DJ-ing.'"

On the state of journalism now and opportunity:

"I think the door is wide open not only for non traditional news startups but also for traditional news as well."

On weather there's a 'dividing line' between older and younger people about social media and journalism that uses it:

"I don't think the divide is generational...I think the divide tends to exist based upon how people feel about being open about how journalism is produced."

How did he get started?

Carvin said that originally, his primary role was to experiment with new tools at NPR. In turn, he spent a lot of time on Twitter and he began to develop relationships on that platform in its early days.

He also said that before his work at NPR, he worked on internet access issues. From the relationships he developed working on the access issues, the same people in North Africa started tweeting about uprisings later. He was able to use that built-in network to start understanding what was happening there and other places during the Arab Spring.

"What started as a little bit of curiosity on my part ended up as a full-time job."

On determining credibility:

"When you have lots of people participating on the ground rather than just one, you can piece together the truth and sort through it."

On media literacy and his role:

"I think it's really important in the news business to inform people about tricks people use."

"I view my Twitter feed as an ongoing media literacy class."

  • Come meet Andy Carvin at St. Louis Public Radio on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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