Andy Carvin, (@acarvin) National Public Radio's senior product manager for online communities, is already being talked about for a Pulitzer Prize.
First of all, let me confess, I'm a complete, total, 16-hour a day NPR addict, so it wasn't entirely surprising that when NPR's social media guy showed up on Twitter, I'd start following him. To the best of my recollection it was sometime in the midst of the 2008 political campaign that we traded some tweets about the NH primary and social media. So I was thrilled and delighted when he came up and introduced himself to me at SWSX a few months later.
Back to the Pulitzer. The reason Andy is being mentioned in the same sentence with journalism's most coverted award is his amazing curation of tweets from Tunisia and Egypt in the last month. As a result of this activity, Andy may be to journalism, what those folks in Tahir square are to the Middle East. In a word, he may have changed our very vision of the landscape. In short, he has forced alot of people to redefine "covering a story" and the nature of "journalism" itself. We always new that social media could change the world, and especially the world of journalism, but now we are seeing it in action.
When I first saw Carvin's tweets from Egypt, I immediately set up an @acarvin column in Tweetdeck to keep myself up to date. At first, his tweets were so immediate, I thought he was actually in the thick of things, and worried about his safety. Then I realized that he was actually in his office, which actually gave him a much better vantage point to collect, filter and retweet news from Tahir square.
At one point he was posting about 400 tweets a day, giving his readers an incredible perspective, with pictures, video and translations coming in real time. Being the news junkie that I am, I found him to be many minutes, and occasionally an hour or so ahead of the major news outlets like CNN and the New York Times. Anderson Cooper's punch to the face notwithstanding, only Al Jazeera English had anything close to Andy's level of coverage.
Lets think about this. One guy, from a radio network who's funding is constantly under threat, has better coverage than most major news conglomerates.
This is not entirely new news. We've seen over and over in this new social media age, that one twitterer (@OxfordGirl in Iran, @sandmonkey in Egypt) can quickly become the goto source for a story. But Andy's curation approach is what is really new. The idea that one smart individual with wicked fast fingers and a whole bunch of connections, can "cover" one of the biggest stories of the year using hundreds of feet that are actually on the street, in the square and at the front. He didn't need cameras and microphones and a crew. He has dozens of trusted sources with cell phones and their own sources.I don't know what Andy gets paid, but even if NPR paid him triple-time hazard pay, it's still alot cheaper than the half a million or so Rupert Murdoch spends to put out The Daily each week.
Even more amazing, he may have ended up finding his own new financial model for journalism. By the time Mubarak was gone, Andy had amassed close to 21,000 followers on Twitter and then he tweeted this:
His gentle plea generated several thousand dollars from his faithful followers, includig some from me, showing that incresaing engagement does in fact have direct revenue implications.