A couple of weeks ago, right after the bin Laden story broke, I wrote a short post about the ways in which social media is changing news gathering and reporting. The gist:
Today, there’s an important interplay between social media and traditional news media. Social media is where I go to learn, in real time, what’s important to those I trust–my contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But then most of us go to the traditional news media to find out more. Then we may go back to social media to share what we find and communicate what aspects are important to us–and the cycle begins again.
Inherent in this, of course, is a tremendous opportunity for traditional media outlets to treat social media like a conduit by encouraging reporters to participate in social networks, making content easy to share, and providing a unique perspective that gives readers what they really want–content they can’t find anywhere else.
Well, this story on lostremote.com shows that some in the traditional media don’t quite see it that way. As lostremote reports:
The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) has issued a social media guide for newspapers…[that includes] this [recommendation]: “Break news on your website, not on Twitter.”
The stated reason for this stance is, as lostremote notes, “to drive traffic and increase the reach of high-quality journalism.” The real story, though, likely has more to do with the former and a lot less to do with the latter. Instead of trying to leverage the speed and scale of social media to drive traffic, the traditional media seems bent upon doing things the way it’s always done them in hopes of preserving website hits–and the ad revenue it hopes will follow. Well, here’s a news flash: people won’t wait to learn about breaking news. They’re already hearing about it as it happens. By ignoring that, and by standing on the sidelines, it’s only going to make it more likely that the traditional media will hasten its own irrelevance.
I think we’re at a turning point much when news moved from print and broadcast to online. The traditional media had a chance to lead the way. Most stood back and hoped the problem would go away. Now, as social media changes the way we gather the news, there’s a closing window of opportunity for the traditional media to change the way it reports and disseminates the news. Journalists who believe in their profession, and who want it to have a bright future, should go to battle with the ASNE on this issue.
I’m especially interested in hearing from journalists on this one. Are you encouraged to use social media as a tool to connect with readers and to tell the story? Also, do you view social media as a potential help, or just a hindrance?