Using Facebook for journalism

4 Apr

Facebook has one of the greatest appeals of all social media platforms by offering opportunities to connect with both personal friends and “fans” as two separate entities. For prominent figures or news organizations, interacting with an audience as an organization is just as simple as an individual reporter conducting research and talking with sources on a more personal level. The news feed serves as a mini bulletin board for updates and developments on all sorts of subjects. Mine alone as a news-savvy college student is peppered with posts from Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and Gawker daily, as well as important breaking news on a national and international scale. You remember the flood of updates about Osama Bin Laden’s death and “RIP JoePa” statuses. Facebook has also played just as much of a role as Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn toward building a reporter’s or news outlet’s brand through pages. Even more ways to curate news, such as allowing a separate section of a user’s profile to be dedicated to posting articles (as opposed to grouping all links together as a kind of post), would be greatly beneficial to journalist’s searching for news and leads.

Of course, with a more personal connection comes deeper ethical hot water for journalists. My ethics class has wrestled with the idea of what is considered appropriate in terms of reporters “friending” sources as business associates like a city mayor or police public information officer to avoid blurring the line between a social and professional connection. The term “friend” on Facebook has come to mean so much more than a buddy you get coffee with, but rather has come to signify any kind of connection. However, the less opportunity to give the impression of bias, the better. This decision in the end, though, is the prerogative of the journalist.

Here are some links for how journalists can use Facebook:

So far, I have only reached out to certain friends on Facebook about my topic blog because blogging about improv has become such a sensitive topic recently in the comedy scene (some have published controversial posts that have ticked off a number of fellow improvisers). However, reception to the blog has been great, so I’ll likely expand my promotion of it to posting links to individual articles both on my own profile and in comedy groups I’m a member of.

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