Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Journalism and Social Media Working Together

As of right now, I have been blogging and tweeting for less than a fortnight. I wouldn't have started it to begin with if it wasn't for social media guru Joe Shartzer encouraging me to get my act into gear with his blog post, Personal Social Media Strategy.

Shartzer's post explains how social medias such as FaceBook, Twitter, Delicious and others can help you in general. It's a persuasive post basically saying that the more you put yourself out there using the various social medias, the more you matter.

Blogs
When it comes to blogging, I have enjoyed using this social media to get my voice out there. In the many articles I've written, my journalism skills are published but not my voice (rightfully so).

So the blog posts have allowed me to do just that: I've enjoyed expressing my opinions on the industry and writing with a larger sense of freedom.

Twitter
When it comes to Twitter, I am embarrassed to say that I was not 100% sure why I signed up for it. For two weeks I have been using it mainly to let whatever "followers" I have know what stories I'm working on, when a new story gets published and when I write a new blog post--simple, yet satisfying.

However, Shartzer (once again) stepped in to fill in the details. He directed me to this helpful explanation, How Journalist are Using Social Media.

The first couple paragraphs already answered my questions and put into simple language why it is necessary for journalist to use Twitter:

"Tools such as Facebook and Twitter serve as excellent filters for the masses of information circulating on the web."

According to Brian Dresher, a manager of social media and digital partnership at USA Today, Twitter is an excellent source for journalist looking for leads and trends. This can simply be done by observing the hash tag (#) on the side of a Twitter page. The most talked about topic will be listed and updated by the minute.

After reading this, I realized how valuable Twitter can be. This is an excellent tool journalists should use if you ever find yourself searching for news stories. Stop asking, "what are people talking about?" and start asking "what are people tweeting about?"

With that simple explanation I have realized how valuable Twitter is and I am now 100% happy that I joined in the first place.

Facebook
I'm sure most journalist have already figured out that Facebook is becoming an essential tool in our world; however, I would still like to reiterate what "How Journalist are Using Social Media" had to say about it.

1) Facebook is great for finding sources. Well this I can confidently say I already knew and agree with. I thank the journalism gods every day Facebook became popular at the same time I started reporting.

Why?

Simple....

Not every one's phone number is in the phonebook, but almost everyone is listed on Facebook :: Not everyone checks their emails, but almost everyone checks Facebook on an hourly basis.

Facebook has made my life so much easier when it comes to finding and tracking down sources--especially teenagers.

"With more than 400 million people searchable by name, occupation, network etc., Facebook is like a modern day phonebook--just with more photos and biographical details."

2) I have also seen how influential Facebook can be in generating the news.

For example, one of the Beverly reporters at the Salem News wrote a short story about Beverly High School changing their mascot from a panther to a boat. This story was less than 12 inches but caught the attention of hundreds of angry teenagers--all on Facebook.

In less than an hour from when the story was published, there was already a Facebook group attacking the school for making the decision without the students' approval.

Journalism and Social Media never worked so well together.

The reporter simply went to the group, picked a handful of students to interview and had a follow-up story published the next day. What started as a 12 inch story turned into a front page story for the rest of February; only ending with the final report that Beverly High decided not to change the mascot.

Five years ago I was against Facebook; I thought it was creepy. Now I use it to keep in touch with my friends who are states and countries away.
A year ago I was against blogging; I thought it was dumb. Now I love it to voice my opinion.
A month ago I was against Twitter; I thought it was the same as a Facebook 'status.' Now I use it all the time.

Social medias are becoming more popular every day, and with it, something everyone needs to know about.

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