People no longer seek out news. Instead, it often comes to them through social networks. Journalism and information in general is all becoming more social, and this trend will only continue. So, it’s important for people in the media to think about how to make their content social and how to use their social networks to their advantage.
Social media is speedy and empowering, yet journalists are still needed to help make sense of it all. Here are 15 ways journalists and media publications have used social media, including examples using Facebook, Twitter, Storify, Foursquare and Google Plus.
1. Wall Street Journal uses Foursquare during Hurricane IreneCrisis brings opportunity.
When Hurricane Irene took over the U.S. east coast in 2011, the Wall Street Journal used Foursquare’s lists feature to provide details of the New York City’s evacuation centers. The tip lists were also used in a breaking news story. The number of people who followed the centers on Foursquare was not high—130 people—but this idea demonstrates a way news publications can interact with and help readers.
2. New York Times Group Uses Instagram Used to Cover Hurricane Irene
Another creative idea inspired by a natural disaster. Users of the social, photo-sharing service Instagram took many photos of all things Hurricane Irene. A New York Times Research and Development Labs group built a website to gather the best content called Instacane. They curated the #instacane hashtag and looked for photos on Twitter to include on the website. The results are simple and tell an interesting story. The website continues to curate images from events, such as Sept. 11.
3. Reuters Covers the London Riots on Storify
By their nature, riots are confusing occurrences. Storify is a wonderful, social tool that can help journalists cover events and more by pulling in social and web content and providing commentary and information to help readers make sense of what’s going on. Anthony Derosa of Reuters used Storify to cover the London riots. Many other excellent examples of Storify being used by the media exist. Poynter talks about a few ways to use Storify as a reporting tool.
4. KX News Moniot Uses Facebook During A Flood
Creating value through Facebook. A TV station in a town of 40,000 people used their Facebook page as a one-stop resource during a record-breaking flood and jumped to over 27,000 fans on the social network. They ran 24-7 coverage and referenced Facebook every couple of minutes as a forum to bring people together. They also had a liveblog via Ustream on its Facebook page.
5. Alabama Meterologist Uses Social Media During Tornadoes
Alabama meteorologist James Spann attracted a huge following on Facebook and Twitter during and after tornadoes hit Alabama in 2011. He did so by being approachable, available and helpful. Thousands of people sent him questions and reports through these accounts. He created three hashtags: #WeAreAlabama, #ALNeeds, and #ALHaves so that Twitter users could help in the recovery efforts.
He said: “Work hard. I mean really hard [...] You are always on. [...] those that are willing to work long, hard hours pushing products and services across a wide variety of platforms, and carve out a new business model at the same time, will be very successful.”
6. Postmedia Uses Twitter As A Reporting Tool
Social media brings new ways to report stories. This Canadian publishing chain had reporters filing Twitter reports live from the campaign trail during the Canadian election, while writers and editors pulled the tweets together into stories.
7. Philadelphia NBC Station Uses Foursquare to Report News
A way to make local news more interactive. NBC 10, a local station, has one of its reporters check-in on Foursquare from relevant locations and leave text and photo news updates. They also provide tips at locations around the city. Eventually, they plan for reporters to have individual accounts and to get more of them involved.
8. Rockville Central Moves its Community News Website to Facebook
Using Facebook in innovative and useful ways. Rockville Central made the news for switching its news website entirely over to Facebook. Even though they recently announced that they will be ceasing publication, they call their experiment a success. And they offer tips for other media organizations to consider: eight lessons on Facebook news publishing.
In a Washington Post article about the move, journalist Jeff Jarvis said, “My dream would be that news sites looked at Facebook not simply to put content on there but so they can be a better platform for their community.”
9. New York Times Reporter Uses Twitter and Blogs to Improve His Work
Crowd-sourcing opinions to improve journalism stories. Brian Stelter, a journalist with The New York Times, uses both Twitter and his blog to get the word out about his stories. He posts a rough draft of a story on a blog, tweets about it, and then asks people for feedback before publishes the story in print. He does say that journos should be careful doing this, that one should try to get facts right before presenting them to readers.
10. NPR’s Andy Carvin and Twitter
Event coverage and newsgathering using social media, especially Twitter. If you’ve heard anything about social media and journalism, you’ve undoubtedly heard something about Andy Carvin. He’s attracted tons of coverage for his curation and crowd-sourcing. He tweets hundreds of times per day and uses his community to verify and debunk information. He’s also used Storify to pull together information. On October 17, 2011, he announced that he’s taking a Twitter break to work on a book about covering the Arab Spring via social media.
11. New York Times Reporter Using Twitter During the Aftermath of a Tornado
Another use of Twitter to report on a natural disaster. Brian Stelter used Twitter to report on the aftermath of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. His account of how he used the tool is a fascinating read. He couldn’t get a reliable Internet connection, so he had to use his iPhone for his reporting. He did an excellent job showing people the newsgathering process and not only promoting his work and his publication.
12. New York Times Columnist Uses Facebook to Report from Egypt
The personal, positive potential of Facebook for news organizations. Nick Kristof used Facebook to chronicle his time in Egypt. His status updates received hundreds of comments. People are often more willing to comment on Facebook, rather than on a news website. While news stories tell what happened, social media feeds report on the present. He used Twitter as a reporting tool as well.
13. Washington Post Tells A Facebook Story
The Washington Post published a story about a woman who posted the story of her pregnancy on her personal Facebook. She had medical complications and eventually died in childbirth. The publication edited and annotated her Facebook page. It’s interesting especially because something like this wouldn’t happen without social media. Right now, journalists often pull together things people post on public social media networks, but at some point more people may not appreciate publishers using their content freely.
14. The Trentonian Used Social Media, including Google Plus, to Cover an Apartment Shooting
The possibility of Google Plus for journalists. A local newspaper in Trenton, NJ used Twitter, Facebook, community bloggers and Google+ to cover a shooting at an apartment building. The editor said Google+ provided them with the information that no one else had. The story was also being reported on Reddit.
This excellent post by journalist JD Lasica also presents nine fundamental assumptions about journalism and how they are being challenged by social media.