Social media platforms are great tools for journalists to reach their audiences instantaneously from the scene of breaking news. But social media can also put news scoops at risk for the traditional platforms of a news organization. The editor-in-chief of inVocus, Katrina Mendolera, interviewed me on the “catch-22” of social media use by traditional news organizations.
The following is an excerpt from Mendolera’s article “Breaking tweets”:
The media’s use of social media is something of a catch-22. Take Occupy Wall Street for example, noted Marcus Messner, a professor of social media and multimedia communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. Although journalists are doing a great job reporting from the scene via social media, they are also giving scoops away not yet officially published or broadcast. “If the journalist is not scooping it on Twitter, then someone else is going to do it so they have do it [report] right from the scene,” he said. “You don’t have to be a paid journalist to break news these days … You just have to use the right hash tag and you automatically get a huge following.” These factors make it so that journalists almost have to break news on Twitter and Facebook, he noted. Of course, if a journalist has a really exclusive scoop, then that can be saved for the main newscast or paper.
But deciding whether it’s worth it to tweet news or publish it first isn’t the only issue journalists should look out for. Messner noted that other unfavorable social media practices include unverified tweets, flooding your followers with news postings at the end of the day, and reporters not involved with the social media process. “With social media you are taking the audience into the reporting process. I think reporters need to be trained that it’s just a snapshot of the moment,” he said. “On social media, especially in Twitter, it’s hard to have this gate-keeping process. It’s all about training the reporters on exactly what they need to do in breaking news situations or breaking rumors or news that turns out to be false.”
Please also read the entire article on the inVocus Media Blog.