Journalists and Social Media

Mary-Louise Schumacher, art and architecture critic at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and one of the smartest reporters using social media around, is conducting training sessions for leaders and staffers at the paper and has started a broader conversation among journalists on how to use social media intelligently to report, build community, and promote our work. Check out this post and link to the Seesmic conversation here.

My contribution to the discussion, for what it is worth, is above. You can easily see why my background is in print!!



Filed under Real Live Changing Newsrooms

9 responses to “Journalists and Social Media

  1. @Professor Brown,

    Fantastic video and thoughts. I agree that journalists have to humanize themselves on social media in order to harness it properly. After all, social media is all about human interaction.

    So many news organizations have joined Twitter, only to just dump headlines onto it. These accounts, of course, aren’t picking up serious traction. The Web itself is all about interaction. Social media takes that interaction to a new level.

    The best beat bloggers that we follow at BeatBlogging.Org leave part of themselves in their work. No, they aren’t discussing politics or anything like that, but rather they each have a distinct voice. These people regularly interact with their users, by responding to their comments, holding interactive chats and so on.

    That’s how you build a community. Social media can ultimately help journalists build bigger and better communities. But that can only work if we actively become a part of those communities.

    I linked to your video and post over at BeatBlogging.Org. I asked a few questions at the end of my post. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the subject.

  2. changingnewsroom

    Thanks, Patrick. I love your blog and read it regularly. With so many folks out there talking about the future of news, it’s so nice to see you highlight the people out there who are actually DOING it.

  3. changingnewsroom

    Just wanted to note: anyone interested in this topic should read this:

    Doreen Marchionni’s paper about journalism as conversation. Many of the ideas I’ve summarized here come from this paper.

  4. Lurene Kelley

    Dr. Brown,

    I write this as I sit nextdoor to Carrie – I’m one of her colleagues in the journalism department. So I could just as easily tell her this, but, hey, it’s easier to sit on my butt and write.

    Plus, since this is social media – I want to share.

    When Carrie first came to our department, I was a little astounded at how much personal information she had on her Facebook. I had a Facebook page, too, but the reporter in me prevented me from revealing “too much.” But the first time I read Carrie’s profile… I realized that what it made me do was just like her more as a person. She showed me the power of social media. Since then, I’ve still been slow to update personal information – but I’m adding a few pictures and tidbits here and there.

    I see the value as a journalism educator – my students who have found me on Facebook see me as more than just a one-dimensional, no-life-outside-of-class professor. They see me as a whole person. I can imagine that would be invaluable to a working journalist. The public, too often, sees journalists as cold, ambitious vultures… not people with kids, dogs, or a curious love of beef jerky.

    As Carrie noted, television has benefitted from the humanizing effects of its medium for years. In fact, many news anchors (particularly morning ones) are encouraged to talk about their kids, pets or hobbies regularly, as a means to gain viewer loyalty. Television viewers often feel as if they know the anchor delivering the news, just because of the scant information they glean from such casual talk.

    There is, as Carrie mentioned, the warning about revealing too much. Even as a journalism professor… I am careful to never reveal my politics in the classroom or my Facebook. There are some lines that journalists just can’t cross… and I believe that is still one of them.

    So Carrie, thanks for showing me the value of getting personal. If we want readers or viewers to be loyal in this age of fragmented media… we must give them a reason to not only depend on us for good information, but to find something to like and trust about the sender. Social media is perfect for doing just that.

  5. changingnewsroom

    Thanks, Lurene!

    Interesting to hear that about television anchors and how being personal has long been something they’ve realized is important. Once again I see how learning things outside of our traditional media backgrounds (mine is in print) is becoming more and more helpful in the digital age. It’s not just the technological convergence, but ideas and strategies we need to be sharing.

    As for me, privacy has just never been my natural forte, I’m afraid. Not sure if that’s good or bad. Although I do tend to limit Facebook for the most part to people I’ve met in person and feel like I know, at least a little bit.

    I try to stay away from politics as well, although since I’ve stopped being a practicing journalist I admit I’ve had a few online slip ups in the heat of the election season. Trying to curb that, though.

    But despite all the possible TMI, I think that the majority of conversations and information shared on social media for me do end up being quite serious, even if not by design. Friends have similar interests and many are fellow academics and journalists, and we have lots of good conversations.

  6. Pingback: Technolo-J : The rise of social media and the demise of newspapers

  7. Mary Louise

    Carrie, I have been pushing this video to colleagues left and right and the reviews are always raves. Thanks so much for offering up such a thoughtful reply to this very real question. I find that opening ourselves up is THE hurdle for many journalists. And your reframing this as transparent journalism is the essential antidote! Thank you!

  8. Pingback: What newspapers forgot: conversation - New media at old Mizzou

  9. Pingback: Technolo-j » Blog Archive » The rise of social media and the demise of newspapers

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