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Transforming The News: Entering A Digital Culture
June 17, 2015

Some may argue that if things are not broke then they do not need to be fixed. But, let us consider the analogy of an old car: Parts may start to go bad so do you wait to make the fixes until it stops working or do you slowly make repairs one at a time?

Change can be a good thing.

Newsrooms are no different–some individuals are fully embracive of using digital while others do not feel it is necessary. As we had discussed in class this week, some news organizations are even providing training to employees to bring them up to speed on what is turning into being new standards in journalism with the rise of social media. For example, the New York Times keeps an open line of communication with their journalists so they are able to ask for help. This allows journalists to receive training on different digital platforms while also being shown the best practices for incorporating them into their stories. The Financial Times also believes in shaping training to the needs of their journalists and even go a step further with providing introductory HTML classes.

Our assignment this week is to consider how the following roles should be using social media and the benefits to utilizing the digital tools.

Foreign News Correspondent: Last week I was introduced to Alex Thomson and how he used Twitter to reunite a family after a natural disaster. Thomson also uses platforms like Vine to showcase short videos about the stories he is working on. One particular story featured a man who carried his sick wife miles to a hospital, only to be turned away. His video showed the woman laying on the ground while her husband stood staring at the camera. This example of Thomson’s Vine shows that a story can still be told from different angles.

Additionally, a foreign news correspondent has the ability to use social media to break news stories, communicate with their audience and promote their work. Viewers also have the ability to sometimes see “behind the scenes”, or what the television news is not showing.

Local Beat Editor: One important aspect that an editor may want to look at is how well a story is performing through analytics on the different digital platforms. While they are able to track the virality of stories from their organization, they are also able to see what is going on with their competition (of course there are tools for this!). This is as easy as monitoring keywords through Google Alerts and keeping tabs on the rival’s mentions.

Being present on social media affords the editor the opportunity to work quickly and more efficiently with trending news topics so they can pitch them to their team. The digital aspect for an editor is an important piece in supporting their journalists who may be present on social media.

Two particularly popular social networking platforms that support trending news topics are Twitter and Facebook. I would presume that a local beat editor would want to have a presence at least on those two networks.

Photojournalist: A lens can arguably be one of the strongest aspects of a story. So how can a cameraman benefit from the use social media? Like a foreign news correspondent and local beat editor, a photojournalist has the opportunity to connect with the viewing audience and promote their work in the digital world by being in attendance. To take this a step further and have a better understanding I asked Manny Campa, a photojournalist in Orlando, FL, about how social media has been incorporated into his role and if he believed the shift to the digital culture is necessary for success.

“It has become imperative to incorporate social media into photojournalism. The broadcast business is always changing, in order for me to be valued as a photojournalist, I feel it’s very important for future photojournalists to keep in mind the social media aspect of their story. While shooting, whether it be breaking news or a prescheduled press conference, you’ll always see me shooting with my everyday camera and also my phone to engage viewers and also encourage them to watch the full story on our newscast.”

The benefit to using social media for all of these titles is that it allows the journalist to build a strong relationship with the digital crowd. Typically, users are quick to provide feedback on things that they enjoy and things that they do not. Having a presence on social media can provide journalists with the platform of disseminating information quick to the audience too because we are living in an age where audiences want things now (or as soon as the journalist has the information).

My question to you becomes, do you believe there are any valid reasons for a journalist to refrain from using social media?

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Tags: beat, correspondent, digital, editors, foreign, journalism, news, photojournalist, social, social media