Knight Center
Knight Center


Exploring the possibilities and headaches of using social media in journalism

The social media onslaught has meant all kinds of new opportunities and challenges for journalists.

For example, Twitter has been used to break news stories, but it also has broken reporters' careers, leading to their dismissal for tweeting something management deemed inappropriate. Similarly, even as reporters use Facebook to source stories, what they "like" or post on the social network site can raise doubts about bias and ethics. (For more information about social media and freedom of expression, see this Twitter feed from the Knight Center.)

As such, in a new occasional series for Poynter, Roy Peter Clark writes about his experiences experimenting with using Twitter and Facebook to hone the craft of journalism.

In the first installment, Clark offers a simple strategy for writing for social media: "Short is good. Concise is better." In part two, he discusses the importance of revising and crafting what you write, instead of just "dumping" information.

The latest installment explores the potential of Facebook and Twitter for writing mini-serial narratives. For example, he cited a series of tweets by Toronto Star reporter Joanna Smith writing about the earthquake in Haiti.

Social media and its importance to the future of journalism was evident not just in coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, but even the recent Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. News of the shooting was tweeted, re-tweeted, posted and re-posted before it was even clear was actually had happened, according to Claudette Artwick, a journalism professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, said the "increasing impact of social media on how breaking news is collected and disseminated" resulted in a "blend of facts, misinformation and opinion that moved quickly along the Internet."

Finding the right formula for incorporating social media into journalism is so important because the Internet is rapidly overtaking television as the main source for news in the United States. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center for People & the Press, 41 percent of respondents said they get most of their national and international news online, and 66 percent from the television. That's changed from 2007, when just 24 percent said they got most of their news from the Internet.

Other Related Headlines:
» Knight Center (Finding a place for Twitter in journalism)


Simon wrote 6 years 17 weeks ago

Trends in Google Alerts

David, how do you search for trends in google alerts?

Novoline wrote 7 years 8 weeks ago

Top researched!

Very nice, without pushing it to far. Social Media is still in its child shoes and will stay there for a while I guess. Twitter, Facebook etc. will become definitely the Web 3.0 but I think its gonna take at least a few years until they might overcome the "webmaster created web".

Ray wrote 7 years 9 weeks ago

Various types of journalism

If we are talkin about plain news journalism then probably in a couple of years Internet will take the first place for primary news source. But if some other types of journalism are concerned like some live discussions, talk shows, reportages showing other people thoughts, I think the television will hold the lead for quite more time.

David Aimi wrote 7 years 12 weeks ago

Leveraging Social Trends and Monitoring tools can help too

There are many cool tools out there you can use to filter social media for "key phrases" to assist journalism. When I write for blogs I search for trends in Google Alerts(neat feature), and on Twitter discussions. You can hear the "chatter", most of which is probably not relevant to your research or desired topic, but often I find inspiration in unlikely places!

Chris wrote 7 years 13 weeks ago

Social Media Journalism

A good example of when I used social media over the regular media on a store, was the earthquake that happened off the coast of South America, and they were expecting a Tsunami in Hawaii. I was watching Twitter and online video sources during the time the wave was expected. Thankfully it never materialized and no one was hurt. But it was quite eye opening at how much quicker you could cover that story than waiting on national media.

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