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)


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