Using Social Media in the Newsroom

    by JD Lasica
    March 4, 2009

    I’m working with the Poynter Institute to put together an online class for senior newspaper executives on how to use social media in the newsroom. From what I can discern, it’s one of the least understood concepts in traditional media.

    For the Knight Digital Media Center program conducted through the Poynter, I’ll likely be giving a webinar and taking part in online instruction around how journalists are already using the tools of social media. So I’d love to see some specific examples of how you’re using social media (aside from blogs), or examples of how other sites are using it in a way that could be applied to news sites.

    I know that more than 800 journalists are using Twitter now. But how valuable are they finding it, and what other tools are they using. So here are some questions:


    • Do you use Twitter to interact with your readers? How? Do your readers offer story ideas, tips, interview questions?

    • Any examples of how Facebook is being used by journalists?

    • What about Google Maps mashups, like you see on Everyblock (and formerly chicagocrime.org)?


    • What about interacting with users on video hosting sites like YouTube, Vimeo or other online communities outside of your own?

    NewWest.net uses Flickr photo galleries on their site. Anyone else?

    • Any innovative examples of user-created content, especially video or podcasts? How do you generate content from social networks?

    • Would love to hear examples of interesting news widgets that spotlight news feeds.

    • Have any journalists had success with using social news sites like Digg, NowPublic, Reddit?

    • Anything else you use: LinkedIn? wikis? delicious? Creative Commons? online petitions or campaigns?

    • What social networks or groups do you use to interact with other journalists about social media?

    • And finally, do you use any online resources for your social media needs?

    If you offer some suggestions in the comments below, I’ll contact the journalists or organizations using these tools and incorporate the examples into the webinar (scheduled for May 12) and let you know how to see it. Social media consultant Paul Gillin, Michele McLellan and Vikki Porter, director of the Knight Digital Media Center at USC Annenberg, are some of the others involved in this project.

    Tagged: facebook social media social networks twitter
    • Tom Shess

      As a Boomer working journalist, I was among the last to embrace tech like the selectric typewriter, early PCs and now I find social networking an annoying noise. But, responsible blogs have much to offer this world. Please take a look at the blog of a young woman who left a teaching position in San Diego to work the AIDS orphan clinics in South Africa. Please read her blog entitled “I fell in love today” about the children who came into her clinic. Point being a excellent and selfless blog gives one hope that we can make something worthy out of social networking. Case in point: http://www.jenndepoyinsouthafrica.blogspot.com

    • Kathryn

      The one thing I am thinking that must be considered in this issue is the fact of reliability in social networking, especially on the web. Social Networks are nowhere reliable and there is no way of verifying their validity. Blogs can be written by someone to talk about an “experience,” but they may really be nothing more than a creation of one’s imagination. Another thing to consider is the audience presented in these social networks. Most these networks consist of the same people who belong to three or four different ones and most consist of the same “type” of people nonetheless. The audience presented in social networks may limit validity as it only considers a narrow audience in the whole perspective of opinions in the world.

      Now, with validity put aside, I think you are completely correct that social networks should be more deeply investigated by newspaper executives and are a good way of receiving interesting “local” stories as well as alternating perspectives on issues. Although I, myself, am not a journalist, I know many campus journalists who work for the school newspaper use social networks such as facebook to conduct surveys and polls in order to receive feedback to use in news stories. This is one way that journalist can use a social network in their research for stories. I also think sites like NowPublic are great because they present a factual news story then offer opportunity for members to leave comments and opinions. This way viewers can read the stories then give their side of things and offer alternative beliefs. Networks like this are helpful because they allow a wide array of opinions to be voices about many matters and they promote healthy and constructive debate.

      Social networking is a great way for journalist to retrieve information from everyday people from all over the globe, and they are not limited by only those reachable in their local area.

    • Daniel Eaton

      I know from personal experience that literally hours of time can be wasted in front of the computer every week on Twitter and Facebook. I have found that, for the most part, if you can get through all of the clutter, both social networks can be used effectively in order to gauge trends and public points of interest. I myself have followed numerous interesting news stories that I stumbled upon in the ‘Twitter Search’ category that I would have not otherwise known about.

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