Social Media Has Revolutionized “The News”

By Professor Weber

Social Media has revolutionized “The News” industry. In some ways it has made everyone with a cell phone a journalist and in other ways it has made gathering the news much faster and more complete. Traditional journalist will say something is lost in the era of instant gratification of the news. This article is about how 3 roles in the news agency can benefit by using social media.

Foreign News Correspondent

Photo Credit:

Imagine a foreign news correspondent sent to a country to cover a massive earthquake. The earthquake has closed down roads, bridges, schools, and stores. The correspondent has never been to this country before. The usual network for collecting information is not set up the same as in the home country and the correspondent knows to gather photos, video, and information on how the earthquake impacted the people.

On the way to the country, the correspondent can start by becoming a Twitter follower of local news agencies, government, schools, volunteers, shelters, and police. By reading the short micro-blogs on Twitter the correspondent can get a feel of how severe was the earthquake. The correspondent can even see the most devastated locations.

Once landed, the journalist can use Periscope or Meerkat on Twitter to conduct a live streaming presentation as they drive down the road. This means the news is instant and straight from the source.

Pictures and videos only tell part of the story. The correspondent will also want to share how the earthquake impacted the citizens. Because the roads, bridges, and businesses are closed it is difficult to find enough people to interview. However, having a Twitter link with local establishments the correspondent can get a general feel of how people are surviving. By paying attention to the Twitter feeds, the correspondent can identify leads to some of the most interesting stories without having to drive around everywhere.

Local Beat Editor

Interesting news stories just don’t run out in front of the news van as it drives down the road. And most people will not call the news channel when something tragic has happen to their family. So a local reporter must seek out material that is news worthy. Some of the best stories are what is happening behind the scenes. But how is a local beat editor supposed to hear about these leads? Answer, by listening to what people are tweeting.

Photo Credit: ABC News

Local beat editors are very good at digging deep and finding a good story. By listening to what the police department is tweeting, what the chamber of commerce is tweeting, what other news agencies are tweeting, a local beat editor can piece enough information to ask deep probing questions. Imagine the police department on one end of town tweeting out a missing child alert and someone on the other end of town tweeting out that saw a child with that description. This local beat editor could be one of the first on the scenes. Thus scoop the rest of the competition.

The same goes for all kinds of leads. If the local news editor is listening, they will learn by listening that traffic on I-4 is backed up, a street brawl broke out after the Yankees won the World Series, or huge sink hole enveloped a man while playing basketball with his kids.

Twitter can be the eye and ears on the streets when the local beat editor cannot be there.

Camera Man

If a picture is worth a thousand words imagine what a piece of video is worth. The video that is captured can be worth much more than the journalist’s own words. A video of a volcano bursting is much more valuable than a person describing it. A police officer’s count of seeing a UFO is not as good as seeing the object on his dash-cam.

Not all pictures and videos need written words. Remember all of the humorous videos of people slipping into the water, unusual wildlife playing together, and tornadoes. Sometimes a journalist words get in the way.

How can a camera man benefit from using social media?

The answer again is listening and observing.

A camera man can learn what type of videos people like to view the most by looking at how many times a video gets shared, tweeted, liked, and hearted. Social media analytics and eye tracking can measure exactly what people are watching.

Photo credit: Go Pro

The recent Go Pro cameras have created quite a buzz in social media. Go Pro cameras can be attached to a person’s helmet or shoulder and capture the view of the person actually taking the video.


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