Seventy percent of journalists now say they use social networks to assist in reporting. Social networking sites allow journalists to find sources, gather news, connect with readers and promote their work more efficiently. Journalists can now ask and answer questions to a broad base of people all at once – even before they write their stories.
Are there some journalists that think social media is damaging other forms of communication, the amount of free time they have and their careers? Sure. But Mark Briggs, author of Journalism 2.0, put it this way: “Just like the telephone didn’t replace the face-to-face meeting over coffee, and the e-mail didn’t replace the telephone, social media doesn’t replace other forms of connecting with people. It adds to them.” In other words, the change is tactical, and should be embraced by media. Personal social networking pages do have the potential to influence a journalist’s perceived neutrality, reputation and credibility in the newsroom, so journalists need to be even more careful with what they choose to make public. But the values of good journalism should remain intact – facts should always be verified and journalists still have a responsibility to publish the unbiased truth.
As mentioned in a previous post, news has become more timely and democratic, but there is still plenty that only traditional journalism can provide. Most journalists didn’t pick their career yearning to write 140-character tweets, and people shouldn’t get used to reading all of their news in such a manner. Instead, journalists should continue to help make sense of events, dig deeper and tell stories that people will remember, but use social media to keep up with their beats, monitor citizen journalists and spread information quickly. It’s always been difficult to get the story both first and right, but journalists should be the ones leading the way in providing accurate information using these new tools.