In today’s fast-paced 24-hour news cycle, social media is playing a significant role in the way journalists source and deliver the news.
The Newsroom spoke to journalists currently working in the media for their opinions on the affects of social media and online journalism.
ABC journalist Fiona Ellis-Jones said reporters used social media on a daily basis to “help cultivate contacts, stay abreast of developing stories, and keep a pulse on our audience.”
“Twitter is especially useful when it comes to breaking news, journalists will often use hashtags to track and connect with correspondents or witnesses on the ground, with the view of getting their account to air quickly via phone or satellite link,” Ellis-Jones said.
“Social media is not only becoming a place to express yourself but also a really competitive way of selling news.
“It is pivotal that journalists coming through the ranks have a thorough understanding of social media. This can give them the crucial edge when trying to crack an otherwise competitive market.”
However the immediacy of social media also carries a number of risks for journalists.
“Social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook provide an immediacy when it comes to sharing information and breaking news,” said The Daily Telegraph‘s editor and columnist Sarrah Le Marquand.
“These tools also enable journalists to communicate with both the general public and public figures in a direct fashion. There is always a risk that accuracy can be undermined by the rush to break or report a story. All those working in the media need to be mindful of observing the usual practices of fact-checking and verifying the accuracy of the source before publishing as these are standards that distinguish professionals in the mainstream media from amateur bloggers and social media users.”
Le Marquand said she expected social media to continue to grow and evolve: “Its influence is likely to only increase over the coming years. That said, I do believe there will be a rekindled appetite for the substance and credibility as supplied by the traditional media. There is only so much nuance that can be conveyed in 140 characters.”
Author, Channel 7 Commentator and Fairfax columnist Kerri Sackville, said social media moved incredibly quickly and people now expected information immediately.
“They expect court cases to be tweeted live, they expect breaking news to appear in minutes on their Twitter stream,” Sackville said.
“The upside is quicker access to news and a wider range of opinions, the downside is that journos no longer have a monopoly on news.
“A further downside is that this new expectation of immediate gratification means that journalists don’t always have the time to write in depth.”
Channel 9 social media producer Elizabeth Little said print journalism needed to embrace social media rather than fear it.
“I have no doubt that print journalism will still exist for its key market in 10 years time, however the media world is constantly changing to keep up with the audience’s demand,” Little said.
“Both online and print media need to work together to achieve the overall goal, which is to report facts on the world to the public. They both need each other.” – Memu Conteh
Top photo by Mohummad Rassawala.