Social Journalism 

 Social Journalism

After attending many social media panels at a previous journalism convention I thought I had heard it all: tweets, updates, tags, uploading photos and videos, hash tagging... the whole shebang. What I didn’t know was that as an active Facebook and LinkedIn user, there were aspects of both sites that can help journalists find beats, sources and so much more if they know how to use them to their advantage.

Give Viewers a Backstage Pass

It’s not uncommon to see most public figures having their own fan page. According to Lavrusik journalists must have one too. It gives a platform to post and give more exposure to your work even if Facebook users haven’t visited your station’s site to read it/view it themselves. Another way to connect with viewers is the post extra videos, photos and content that may not have been included in your original piece. Having this exclusive content can add incentive for users to connect with the journalists’ page.

Let Viewers Participate

Lavrusik stated that engagement on Facebook increases by 64% when users let others add to their projects. It’s common for journalists to ask viewers/readers to send in their photos or videos when there is a natural disaster or another big event going on in the area… and viewers seem to enjoy being included. If journalists allow people to send in pictures or other content that could potentially be used on-air, not only does it seem that they will return to the reporters’ profile, they will probably tune into the show which they sent the content into.

LinkedIn also an extremely valuable tool when it comes to looking for sources and beats. Krista Canfield, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for LinkedIn, explained that all the tools are there, journalists just have to know how to use them.

Hundreds of Experts at Your Fingertips

Like Facebook, using the search tool can be a great way to find sources, but because LinkedIn profiles focus heavily on professions it makes it quick and easy for journalists to find experts on a story they may be working on. Canfield gave an example; if a reporter is working on a story where they would like to talk to a child psychologist they could search based on profession, if the person is currently employed as such, how many years of experience they have and where their business is located. The ‘Skills’ tab works in the same way, listing users who have posted interests or have worked with certain key terms that match what was searched.

Similarly, the Reference Search tool lets users search for all employees current or past that have affiliated themselves with a certain company. This may be useful to find a past employee who may be more willing to talk about the corruption in the company they just left or finding someone who works with another source reporters may be trying to contact.

Uses for social networks are expanding way past plain old networking. Taking advantage of the right tools and having the right intentions, these social sites can be very helpful to all journalists who could use extra help finding sources and story ideas.

-Danielle Kreutter

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