It’s hard not to think about social media. It’s so pervasive in our lives that those who use it actively probably would have a hard time imagine being without it now that they’ve had it in their hands (and if you think you can stop for a while – try it, it’s not easy). Some of this is, of course, out of design, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, etc. can have a real usefulness beyond the surreal rat race to act as a celebrity or the creation of influencer houses.

Let’s compare now to pre-social media days. Journalists are suddenly empowered with the ability to get low-barrier responses from such a wide variety of people on a question sent out, and are able to find new story ideas at the blink of an eye. They can make groups of dedicated readers and easily track the statements of public officials all on the same screen while gaining new audiences for their work besides those that already buy their paper or tune in for the 6pm news.

Reporters can bridge trust in brand new ways, sharing their personalities off the air and page in a way that people can see and even reply to.

Readers are also now able to have a front page to the news that spans outlets and topics in a way that could have been seen a utopian before aggregation made its foothold. I remember hearing on a podcast once a host flippantly refer to Twitter as ‘journalist LinkedIn’, and while a joking remark when it was made, having journalists share out information as it happens can do great things to inform the public as well as being good for the career of the reporter.

There are a plethora of examples too of how a consumer’s ability to give their own citizen journalism to the public on these platforms has been a great asset to public information and the public can have a greater say in what’s important to cover.

These benefits are real and we shouldn’t lose sight of them, but we also shouldn’t lose sight of the concerns of social media. It can be felt as overwhelming to a journalist obligated to share on these platforms that are rife with fake news and are often seen to have had a detrimental effect on the industry.

That being said, the internet is where many of us live now. We check twitter, we crowdsource opinion from and engage with our followers, and they can easily reply back. Journalists, myself heavily included in this, ought to make a plan as to how they use social media so that we use it right and don’t fall into a pit of doomscrolling. That way, we can best serve ourselves and our followers.

Source: Pixabay

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