Social media has revolutionized how people receive and share news and information. Because of this change with how people around the world consume news, journalists – and the media landscape – have had to quickly adapt. While these platforms are not replacing the industry, they are adding another layer of information and providing access to a wider range of voices.
We recently interviewed journalists on how they use social media in their day-to-day and highlighted these key takeaways:
Over the past decade, digital tools and mobile platforms have had a significant impact on journalistic practices and these platforms are providing value as a media tool that can help reporters research and discover story ideas.
Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski said she uses Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to find her ideas. “I’ve read about so many amazing people and things going on in the world that I’ve found out about more quickly because I read about them on social media. Often I read about ideas that spur other ideas for me to write about.”
Photojournalist Max Whittaker primarily uses Facebook to research and discover his story ideas. “I see a wide array of news and social issues through my Facebook feed. More importantly, I get little glimpses into the daily lives of ordinary people. Important stories need to be told through the prism of ordinary people. Facebook is one way I can see their struggles and the issues that personally affect them, which can inform my coverage and even instigate a story idea. I can also reach out to those same people and tell their story or enlist them in helping me find subjects that more clearly illustrate a topic.”
While story creation might be the most popular reason that journalists use social media, it also allows you to keep a pulse on what is happening in your local community. Jen Picard, Senior Producer, Insight Capital Radio, primarily covers the Sacramento/Northern California regions and she pays attention to “local artists, newsmakers, reporters and other journalists, just to see what they’re doing, talking about, sharing and promoting.”
Picard further commented, “I do hit a lot of links that people share if it crosses my interest levels (professional and personal) and that’s probably tied with trying to get sources or find people to talk with about specific topics. We’re always looking for the expert and the everyman. The expert is easy – they’re banging down our doors. But the everyman is far more elusive. Social media can help us find/reach out to those people.”
If you are journalist that covers a regular beat, chances are you’ll find yourself talking to the same people on a fairly regular basis. Actively participating in conversations on various platforms can help to forge relationships with sources that wouldn’t have otherwise come to be.
Wojciechowski stated, “Sometimes I use social media to find sources – but usually only if my standbys like ProfNet haven’t turned up the specific type of source I need. This especially helps when I need a source at the last minute. There’s always someone on social media.”
Aly Walansky believes she is using social media extensively in her role as a journalist: “Sources for stories almost always share the stories, and their audiences will often comment and lead to new story ideas (or just new followers for both of us!).”
Social media platforms provide journalists with an additional vehicle of self-promotion. Individual journalists are now able to actively publicize their work, develop their own online presence and engage with readers at a level previously unseen in the industry.
Walansky stated, “First and foremost, I share all my articles on Twitter and Facebook – this is great for self-promotion, of course, but also great for expanding ideas and sources.”
Whittaker concluded with, “I’ll be honest, the most important way I use social media is for self-promotion. I’m a freelance photojournalist and getting, and keeping, the attention of photo editors is the only way I can pay the bills while getting the stories I care about in front of readers. Instagram has quickly become the premiere social media platform for photographers, and photo editors love the constant stream of images from photographers in the field.”
Stay up to date on media trends, best practices and how social media is impacting the media industry. Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to receive posts by email.
Amanda Eldridge is the director of strategic channels at PR Newswire where she educates small business owners and nonprofits on affordable PR & marketing solutions. She has 15 years of experience in both communications and journalism. While not working with clients to revamp their PR & marketing efforts she is busy being a mother to two young children and enjoys the Colorado outdoors, no matter what season. Amanda also tweets about small business marketing trends @prnsmallbiz.