Earlier today I attended (i.e. streamed) a webinar exploring how journalists are using social media to identify stories, research, build audience, and distribute their reporting. Hosted by Reuters PR, the “How Reuters Journalists Use Social Media to Uncover Today’s Stories” featured an impressive panel: Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor at Reuters; Lauren Young, Wealth Editor at Thomson Reuters; and Corey Fiedler, VP of Product Management at Thomson Reuters.
I will admit that I was already a huge fan of Mr. De Rosa, but found all contributors to be informative and generous with their offerings.
WEBINAR: How Reuters Journalists Use Social Media to Uncover Today’s Stories
Below are some of the more potent appreciations I gained.
Social media and journalists
Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa), states his responsibility at Reuters is to train journalists to effectively use social media for reporting and broadcasting. Given the nature of the technology and field, this means continuous innovation and skill development. He orchestrates semi-monthly workshops, along with “show and tell” sessions for journalists to share tools and strategies. As the
Lauren Young (@LaurenYoung), Confessed that being amongst young and forward thinking professionals helps to keep abreast of new media developments.
@LaurenYoung: Social media has changed the pace, tenor, and veracity of journalism.
@antderosa likes the pace of real-time news. There is more emphasis on getting it right. In the fight to be first, some sacrifice validity. But he strives to maintain the balance between timeliness and veracity.
Social media as a reporting tool
To manage the fire-hose effect of Twitter, @AntDeRosa curates lists for beats, contacts, and competitors. I highly recommend following his lists, as they are among the most comprehensive and useful I have encountered.
@AntDeRosa mentioned that he used Geofeeder (I have yet to track this down, perhaps it is related to this research?), which permits you to spotlight social media activity for geographic locations. Muckrack was recommended as another tool to make sense of the flood of journalistic activity on Twitter.
@AntDeRosa shared that he was particularly fond of using Twitter to monitor events inaccessible to reporters (e.g. civilian videos in Syria).
Social media best practices
@LaurenYoung argued that the most well received tweets are those that contain salient data points. Twitter’s 140 character format is perfect for that succinct powerful facts.
Ms. Young holds different social media platforms to be for different types of interaction. Twitter is well suited for, monitoring information. Facebook, she asserted, is better for conversation. On this subject, @antderosa added that Facebook (and potentially Google+) can be used to crowdsource. Accommodating more robust conversation, these environments encourage audiences to interact with journalists, and for journalists to get to know who it is they serve.
@LaurenYoung sees Twitter as a channel for community building, not story ideas. She finds out what the competition is up to, and what her audience is talking about. Good old fashioned reporting is still the best way to find a story, and that involves talking to a person. Big stories comes from being on the front lines, not Twitter streams. Social media is another place to spread the gospel, but a reporter can not solely work in that arena.
@AntDeRosa said he does not focus too much on generating traffic with his social media activity. He instead strives to provide valuable information as it reported and verified. Strategic timing of posts distracts from the content being useful and informative. Developing audience trust that information is timely and valuable will be traffic.
@LaurenYoung does believe in strategic posting.
On veracity in social media
@AntDeRosa argues that digital footprints do much to verify sources. Who a source is following, who they are followed by, where they are, how old the account is, etc. all can be telling. But he does not see this as a replacement for in person exchanges, which will remain an integral component to reporting.
On the future of social media and journalism
@AntDeRosa: “More passive customization of news.”
@AntDeRosa predicts more passive customization, or news that is tailored to the audience. Facebook’s social graph knows a lot about us, and pushes specific information to us. News will likely go the same way. However, people often don’t know what they should do. Audience must be open to new stuff. Passive customization should not usurp editorial direction.
@LaurenYoung emphasized that her goal is to beat the competition. And when she can’t beat the competition, she insists on being a part of the conversation. Her work should be as newsworthy and timely as possible, “News you can use.”
Also, Collen Maleski created a Storify chronicle of the discussion.