Evaluating Facebook’s effectiveness as journalistic tool

The way in which journalists spread information has been consistently evolving to fit the public’s needs. This trend has lead to the exploration of Facebook, one of the most popular social media websites used today.

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But can journalists use Facebook as an effective tool for distributing information?

How Facebook contributes to journalism:

Vadim Lavrusik, author of the article “Facebook’s Growing Role in Social Journalism,” said reporters have access to numerous sources for stories through Facebook’s vast membership. Eyder Peralta of National Public Radio, as quoted by Lavrusik, said that posing queries on Facebook statuses has been very successful for the organization.

Kelly Wilson, editorial assistant of AJR.org, wrote in the article “In Your Facebook” that networking through Facebook allows reporters to share story ideas and information, and can even lead to prospective employment opportunities.

Using Facebook encourages the reader to express their opinions about a story. In “The Transition to Digital Journalism,” Paul Grabowicz of Knight Digital Media Center reports that news organizations receive more user feedback through Facebook than from their own websites.

How Facebook hinders journalism:

“I don’t see any role for Facebook in our work lives, because on Facebook, like everywhere on the Internet, you never know who wrote what you see and whether it is true,” said Washington Post copy editor Phillip Blanchard, as quoted in Wilson’s article.

Verification is one of the most important aspects of being a responsible journalist. As Facebook requires no face-to-face interaction, sources may not be as forthcoming as they would be in a real life interview. This could result in significant fact errors or other issues for the reporter.

With these advantages and disadvantages in mind, what do you think? Can Facebook be used as a successful journalistic device?

For more information, listen to this webcast entitled “Advanced Facebook for Journalists” from Mashable.com:

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