WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Social Media's Impact on Journalism

Oct 9, 2018

Santa Clara University's website has a piece that looks at the ways social media is changing journalism.  The broad categories are faster, clickier, and more personal.

Shop Talk panelists Jasmine Crighton and Rich Egger believe social media has also changed the thinking regarding when stories run.  In the past, politicians, public relations firms, and others who wanted to bury a story would release information on a Friday afternoon, hoping it would get overlooked during the weekend when fewer people are paying attention to the news.

But now people check social media 24/7, so a story published online on a Friday afternoon or over the weekend and promoted on social media is likely to receive just as much attention as a story published during the week. 

Egger said Tri States Public Radio’s story about Western Illinois University’s decision to defund TSPR is a perfect example – it was published and promoted on a Friday afternoon and received plenty of attention.  He said it did not get buried despite the timing of when it was published.

Crighton said social media has been around for more than a decade. She said some news organizations use social media quite well while others are still trying to figure it out. Crighton also said some journalists do an especially good job of using social media to carry on conversations with their audience.

Panelist Will Buss feels social media is forcing news organizations to release news more quickly – there is no more waiting around for a deadline because deadlines are now 24/7.  He said that’s another reason why news organizations should be hiring more reporters instead of cutting back on staff.

Buss said news consumers must consider the sources of information they come across on social media.  He is concerned that rumor and innuendo can run wild on social media, and both Buss and Crighton consider “clickbait” headlines to be poor journalism.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.