Social media give us tools to publish news and raise important topics with the audience, but they are equally useful for creating journalism by gathering information, finding examples, and inviting the audience to participate.
This conversation and audience participation are perhaps what make social media so interesting and such important tools for journalists. Thanks to the multiple channels and networks that are available just a few keystrokes away, we can reach and listen to more voices including some that were perhaps not heard previously. Before you start to use, for example, crowdsourcing, read about digital source protection, and always be thorough in how you protect your sources.
It may be more or less difficult to find people with experience of your topic or the area you are covering. You have a range of different tools at your disposal, including:
- Search words
- Comments fields (yours and those of others)
- Article searches
DIFFERENT PLATFORMS – DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES
Different platforms are used in different ways and attract different types of people. The following search methods are specific to the most common forums and platforms.
- Twitter: feeds, hashtags, search words, trends
- Facebook: groups, public accounts, search words, geolocation
- Instagram: search words, hashtags, stories, geolocation
- Snapchat: maps, stories, search words, feeds
- Whatsapp: collect audio clips, text and photos
- Forums such as Reddit: search words, hashtags, feeds
The best approach is to combine several tools and platforms.
AREAS OF APPLICATION
- Crowdsourcing: collect material for journalism
- Get people to become involved in and spread your journalism
- Find material from specific locations and events
- Find photos that you can use on social media (remember to ask permission and always cite sources)
- Follow up on listeners’ emails, acquire context
- Information on social media and information from real life – how well do they match up?
- Gather opinions, experiences, expertise and material in comments fields
- Verify material
- Build relationships
It is sometimes easy to get stuck in one way of working, but there are many different approaches to audience participation. Using different methods in parallel is a good way of broadening perspectives and reaching more people. Remember that different platforms may have different target groups, and even if you use one account that should, in theory, cover a geographical area, the audience may not necessarily reflect the entire place. The local P4 group on Facebook may reach a large number of people, but not everyone.