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Using Social Media to Find Sources, Break News and Attract Attention David Sheets President, St. Louis Chapter Society of Professional Journalists.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Social Media to Find Sources, Break News and Attract Attention David Sheets President, St. Louis Chapter Society of Professional Journalists."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Social Media to Find Sources, Break News and Attract Attention David Sheets President, St. Louis Chapter Society of Professional Journalists

2 First, a clarification: Journalism is not dead It’s just very, very badly injured

3 There is no better time to become a journalist But do not fear.

4 Now, perhaps more than ever, journalists are crucial to the future of this republic

5 Journalists must: Find facts Recognize bias Distinguish news from opinion Do all of this ‘without fear or favor’

6 Seek facts without personal gain Question authority, respectfully Ignore personal, emotional criticism Look past the obvious Understand that your first obligation is to inform the public What does that mean?

7 Commit yourself to these facts and readers, listeners, viewers become better citizens. And you become a better journalist

8 So, how do you do that?

9 These used to be a reporter’s primary tools:

10 Today, we use...

11 But how do you use these tools for gathering news? Here are five ways...

12 1) Watching for trends

13 Example: DJ Aaron Lazenby was scanning Twitter one night last year and saw #iranelection trending. He stayed up all night discussing the subject and connected with sources he used for a broadcast via Skype.

14 The interviews he compiled were picked up by CNN’s iReport, a Web venue for citizen journalism, and went viral. Lazenby said his interactions on Twitter made the sources comfortable in dealing with him. ‘Reading through tweet histories really can give you a good idea if the person is for real or not,’ he said

15 Example: USA Today Correspondent Kitty Yancey wrote about price gouging at some hotels and also used Twitter as a resource. She noticed complaints following a snow storm in the Northeast. She typed ‘snow’ and ‘hotel’ into search. Numerous tweets revealed hotels doubling their prices for snowbound guests

16 Example: Student reporting Elliot Volkman learned through Facebook that a student had fallen partially through the floor of her living room in an apartment building near campus. He made connections with people who lived in the building and learned it had been cited several times for being run down

17 Residents and employees sent Volkman photos and information — information he used for a story that won him a Georgia College Press Association Award. The building’s owners were forced to make tens of thousands of dollars in improvements

18 ‘I did a lot of my information-gathering via social networking sites,’ Volkman said. ‘I would not have been able to (get the story) without them.’

19 Keep in mind, you can’t do all of your reporting this way. One old-fashioned tool remains the best available for gathering information:

20 That’s right...... your shoes

21 2) Establishing sources

22 The Yellow Pages of today: Contains more than 900 million members searchable by name, occupation and network, among other topics

23 Example: RedEye Tracy Swartz, transit writer for the pop culture tabloid, used Facebook to keep in contact with bus drivers so they can communicate without leaving an email trail from work.

24 Example: The Associated Press Lauren McCullough, social networking manager, said Facebook was key in learning about the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. ‘Since then, it has been an important part of our news-gathering process,’ she said.

25 3) Crowdsourcing It’s the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee to an undefined, large group of people or community (a ‘crowd’), through an open call

26 Many news events were not photographed by professional photographers but bystanders. The AP’s McCullough refers to the crash of US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River.

27 The image was attached to this tweet:

28 ‘I very quickly was on Twitter and Facebook and Flickr and YouTube and... stumbled on Janis Krum’s iconic photo and began a process to get in touch with him and to find out where he was and where he had taken the photo and whether it was something that we could distribute,’ she said. McCullough first noticed rumblings about the crash on social media.

29 Crowdsourcing for journalists: Help a Reporter Out: Where reporters and sources can connect. You ask a question, HARO tries to find answers from reporters as well as sources. At last check there were about 103,000 sources and 30,000 journalists listed on the site

30 4) Sharing and vetting stories

31 Brian Stelter, who did the Media Decoder blog: ‘The best way for me... is to write a rough draft of a story, put it on one of our blogs, tweet about that rough draft, ask people for feedback... questions and comments, and then improve my story based on what they say before it gets into print.’

32 Stelter broke the story in 2011that ‘The Daily Show’ and the ‘Colbert Report’ were leaving Hulu. He posted a draft of his story online and was able to gather enough reader opinion to include a couple paragraphs at the end about what people thought.

33 ‘It would be hard to survey random readers about that information in the hour that I had to improve the story,’ Stelter said. ‘But thanks to Twitter and Facebook and other websites, I was able to tap into reader opinions and I was able to... improve the story.’ ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Colbert Report’ have since returned to Hulu.

34 Sharing expands your reach: About 200,000 print readers daily About 2 million online readers daily (not including mobile readers)

35 5) Branding Social media is a great way to connect with communities and establish yourself as an expert.

36 Evan Benn The St. Louis Post-Dispatch feature editor has become the go-to guy for news about brews in the region. In just two years, he has made the ‘Hip Hops’ blog at one of the most read on the site.

37 From that last year, Benn produced ‘Brew in The Lou,’ a guide to making and drinking beer in the St. Louis area. It is one of the best-selling local books on the market. And why?

38 Benn studied the market and realized that nobody was writing about beer in St. Louis — one of the nation’s beer capitals. Instead of writing about everything and anything, as most people do, he identified a need and became a specialist. Now he’s considered an expert

39 Debra Bass Another Post-Dispatch feature writer, she realized the St. Louis area’s distinguished history in fashion and textiles wasn’t getting its due. The city has long ties to the big fashion industries in New York and Europe.

40 Now, Bass is a regular at fashion shows around the nation and she does TV and webcast reports regularly for national media.

41 Derrick Goold Writer of all things Cardinals, Goold tweets, writes two blogs, posts on Facebook, writes newspaper stories, does TV and radio interviews and podcasts on St. Louis’ favorite topic — all on deadline. The job is big, broad and consumes much of his time.

42 Despite everything on his plate, he found time to write a book, too. It’s also one of the most popular titles in the region.You’ll find it at just about any grocery, as well as local bookstores. Goold proves another key point: Finding a niche means making a commitment, one that could take up a lot of your time

43 To summarize, journalists are using social media to: Watch for trends Establish sources Crowdsource Share their stories Establish a ‘brand’ that calls attention to their expertise

44 So, how do you get started? Create an online portfolio. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should represent your skills. It serves as a destination for people who find you on search engines

45 Blog … if you haven’t started already. It shows you can write or produce consistently and demonstrates your commitment to journalism. And it doesn’t have to be just writing — include whatever medium is your specialty

46 Hand out business cards. These help remind people who you are. Then you can shoot them an email to set up a meeting later, ask if they’re hiring, or just chat over coffee. Re-create the card electronically, too.

47 Get a new wardrobe. T-shirts and flip- flops won’t cut it. You’ll need a makeover that says, ‘I'm a professional journalist.’ Clean up your social networking sites. Blue language and photos from drinking parties are no help when it comes to making a good first impression on your potential audience, or potential employer

48 Chat up your professors, instructors. They may know where jobs are and give you ideas on blogging topics. At least they could serve as references. Collaborate. Work with peers on a project that brings together individual talents and maybe create a blog, social media network or marketing plan that gets you started

49 Using Social Media to Find Sources, Break News and Attract Attention David Sheets President, St. Louis Chapter Society of Professional Journalists

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