Social Media and the News

Social networking media websites like FacebookYoutubeTwitter and eve Flickr are great tools for news outlets to connect to their readers and viewers, but have they been relying too heavily on them?

I never really questioned the use of these websites until I stumbled upon this parody newscast by a Dallas-Fort Worth Fox Station.

The parody also reminded me of a conversation I had with Jake McCormick – professional blogger for, former Editor in Chief of The Spectator and graduate of the UW-Eau Claire Journalism program – a couple of months ago. McCormick argued against a reliance on social media sites.

To paraphrase his argument, he said that constantly plugging articles and videos will desensitize followers and that news outlets should use other means to draw in fans. The occasional  breaking news story on Twitter or Facebook worthy, but posting page-3 and page-4 type stories will bore readers/viewers.

The Spectator, for example, has it’s own youtube channel, a facebook page and multiple twitter accounts (newssports, and arts). They used to post links to articles as often as possible, but, as of recently, no longer do so. Perhaps they realized they weren’t gaining any additional readers with their posts, or perhaps they no longer have time. Either way, their lack of posts hasn’t changed how often I visit their website.

Social network sites shouldn’t be written off, though. As McCormick said, breaking news is something that should be posted. I remember learning about last winter’s house fire on Lake Street through The Spectator’s Facebook post.

I feel news outlets should post only the most relevant and important articles through social media sites – otherwise they run the risk of being overlooked.

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