Social Media: A gift or curse to Journalists?

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As the Canadian Press Social Media Policy states, “social media is an ever-evolving world and we’re all still figuring it out.”  With that being said, the debate over newsroom policies on social media may also be one that is on-going. Where does one draw the line regarding policies made for or against the use of social media within a newsroom?

To begin, Katherine Lewis’ article, Social media ethics for journalists: Part 1, the dilemma, brings an interesting viewpoint to this particular topic. The article states that clearly, social media should not be ignored for some of its strengths such as being a crucial tool for reporting and allowing journalists to connect with their readers. It is obvious that in the past, when social media did not exist, journalists were not able to connect to as many people in their surroundings. One of the biggest strengths of social media is its ability to connect journalists to as broad of an audience as they desire.  They are able to reach this audience on various different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, etc.

Leah Betancourt brings up the interesting view point in her article How Social Media is Radically Changing the Newsroom that journalists should always keep in mind that they are constantly representing their news organization when they use social networking tools-even on their personal account. The article mentions that anything a journalist may state through social media will have a direct impact on their reputation as well as the credibility of the associated newsroom. Therefore, it is no wonder why social media should not be ignored, especially in this day and age.

All in all, it is important to take note that the use of social media is one that keeps growing and evolving. For this reason, many newspapers such as The Gazette and The Globe and Mail have all been very active with regards to using social media outlets to promote their organization. For example, many individuals will refer to Twitter to gain access to latest news updates from The Gazette instead of picking up a copy of the newspaper in print.

Kevin Bakhurst highlights the three most important components social media has to BBC News in his article: How has social media changed the way newsrooms work?. The first advantage is its ability to give journalists access to larger amounts of news and sometimes better material. Another advantage of social media according to Bakhurst’s article is its ability to engage more audiences as well as different audiences when it comes time to sharing news content. The third positive component of it, according to Bakhurst, is that social media enables journalism to get out there by enabling people to gain access to it through websites, television, radio, etc.

It is without a doubt that social media also has its negative side. Like Victoria Harres points out in her article Not Yesturday’s News: Social Media in the Newsroom, one of the concerns of social media in the newsroom is the possibility of misinformation and lies going viral via social media outlets. Yet, it allows newsrooms to listen to their audience when such an event occurs.

In sum, social media in the newsroom is needed. With technology constantly advancing and the field of journalism becoming more and more digital, it is vital to include social media within a news organization. Without it, a news organization would lose its audience to other organizations that are linked to all forms of social media.

As digital analyst Brian Solis put it:  “Social media sparks a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.”

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One thought on “Social Media: A gift or curse to Journalists?

  1. 4.75/5. Great post: good authorial voice, very strong use of links, good narrative. The only flaw I’d point to is where you tell us how Gazette readers get their news — how do you know this? An informal poll of your peers? Something you’ve read. That is the one place I pause and wonder about the authority of your argument.

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