A practical understanding of social media platforms is becoming increasingly necessary for journalists and according to industry professionals… it’s the future of journalism.
Recently, ABC managing director Mark Scott said that new media tools will benefit journalism as more people engage with and contribute to the online media experience.
Online publication Crikey has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter and 8,000 on Facebook.
Crikey Deputy Editor Jason Whittaker says the site uses these tools to interact with readers and promote their work.
“Journalists certainly need to know how to harness the information and there’s great benefits in the interaction with sources and readers,” he says.
“It’s a pretty fast-moving area and each platform has its own benefits. Journalists need to be across the developments in this area and keep up with the trends.”
In a speech he gave at The Walkley Foundation’s MediaPass Student Industry Day Whittaker said it was essential for journalists to be on Twitter.
“It’s the place to start to build your online reputation,” he said. “You need to be following interesting people, re-tweeting interesting things, posting interesting information. And always, always, it needs to make you look eminently employable.”
He also encouraged the use of blogs as online portfolios and a powerful self-promotion tool for new journalists.
“When nobody will employ you, when nobody will publish your work, everyone can self-publish. Use it to compile any student or freelance work.”
After graduating from university, Crikey journalist Tom Cowie used various media platforms to create the Tom Wants A Job social media campaign and experiment with the effectiveness of social media in assisting new graduates to find jobs.
He says social media is useful in helping student journalists to build an audience in a media environment where jobs are scarce.
“The ability to be able to interact with an audience is integral. Students need to start promoting their work using social media. It really is up to us to start building our own audiences,” Cowie says.
Cowie found Twitter to be the most advantageous during the campaign because it allowed him to connect with an audience outside his friends and pitch his work to media professionals.
“Twitter allows for a site or idea to go viral much quicker than Facebook can. People will tweet or retweet something that they like, which is exactly what happened to TWAJ and meant that my audience grew much quicker than I anticipated,” he says.
Curtin University Internet Studies Lecturer Dr Tama Leaver says that, while there will always be an audience who favour print publications, “readerships will inevitably decline” as journalism turns to technology. Because of this, he says engaging with social media, especially Twitter, is crucial for today’s journalists:
Here are some useful tips on how to get started on Twitter.