Social Media Saturday - Journalists and Social Media

Saturday, 19 February 2011


All journalists should be familiar with social media.

My former news director, Jenny Kuglin is now working at KOMO News in Seattle as the new Social Media Director. Her job is to drive social media content and also teach older journos how to use Facebook and Twitter. I can imagine some of them are kicking and screaming to hold onto the "old" way of reporting and gathering sources but the age of instant communication is here. Those who choose not to embrace it, lose out quickly.

Kuglin helped KOMO Anchor Kathi Goertzen start a Facebook page this month. In just one day, 35,000 Facebook users "liked" Goertzen's page. That is amazing. (Read an interview with Kuglin concerning social media and the impact of Facebook here.) By starting a Facebook page, Goertzen instantly connected with THOUSANDS of viewers.

Not only have I obtained news story ideas from Twitter and Facebook, I've also located story sources and connected with viewers who would interview on-camera.

Friday, I followed up on a viewer tip concerning panhandling on the University of Tennessee's campus. Our tipster said panhandling was becoming more prevelant. Without knowing if the viewer just experienced a lone incident, I turned to Twitter. I asked, "Hey tweeps. Have you noticed panhandlers on the UT strip?" Within three minutes I recieved five tweets from people saying "yes" and sharing their experiences. The information helped our news staff decide that I should pursue the story.

Facebook and Twitter are also free sources of self promotion. Every journalist should use these sites to promote their reports, co-worker's reports and the news station/publication.

Also on Friday, I posted on my WATE Facebook page, "Is panhandling a problem on the UT strip? I went to find out myself. The report tonight on 6 News at 11." I have 1,030 "friends" on my professional account and perhaps 500 of them glanced over my status during the day. Even if a 10th of them tuned in, that's an extra 50 viewers. Every viewer counts during sweeps (television news ratings period which determine advertising prices).

Do you use Twitter and Facebook in a professional aspect? Another news director I know now lists "social media use" as part of the job description for journalists. I'd like to know how it's used in other industries, please post a comment.

5 comments

Jenny said...

Thanks for including me in this post! I truly believe social media makes us all much better journalists. I love being able to connect with our viewers and readers in a more meaningful way than we've ever had access to in the past. Journalists must do their jobs WITH the public, not just from high above anymore.

Also, the support for Kathi Goertzen is absolutely breathtaking.

Denae said...

Jenny - you are one of my social media mentors! Thanks for posting here. I also found the data you shared on Twitter about demographics on FB vs. Twitter to be very interesting. I might have to Social Media Saturday post that too.

Crystal Young said...

Yeah, about that. Apparently the federal government thinks that social media is most effective at the national level and as such will not let, even public affairs specialists, use it for the greater good. So if a blog gets posted, instead of instant it takes two months to get it on the schedule, approved, edited for consistency and posted. I finally got a story about a July even last year posted in August. It was excruciating.

Political Leverage said...

it is a strong marketing tool however, i disagree with the having two accounts. I have one account ii use for business and personal and i find that my contacts trust me more because they see a more personal side to me and that makes my work more personable.I feel in this backpack journalism society with sound bites and 2 minute live feeds, journalists have lost their personality n connection with the reader/viewer. I am always looking for that connection with the public. That is why my blog and photo business thrives and yet i am an independent freelance journalist.dan

Denae said...

Crystal - Yes, the pitfals of working for the government. Things move slowly and are monitored closely. That is very frustrating, I'm sure.

Political Leverage - I want to keep a line between private and public when it comes to Facebook because I've sadly experienced how "unstable" some tv news viewers can be. While I want my good friends to see my honeymoon pictures, I don't want my 1,000+ "friends" who are viewers - and strangers - to witness all of my special moments.

I do agree with your idea that journalists need to connect with the public. I think social media is certainly helping us share nality and engage with our audience.