Social nets spread the word, build the readership

American Journalism Review looks at the “distribution revolution” at newspapers reporting via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking venues.

The article focuses first on Wilmington’s  Star News, a New York Times newspaper. “[T}he Star News is putting out stories and discussion topics on 15 Twitter feeds. Meanwhile, 30 of its staffers have their own accounts, which they use to promote their work, engage the community and mine story ideas. The paper (if one can still use the term) is also pushing out stories on its own Facebook page and encouraging reporters to do the same on their own pages. Many do. Says the Web development manager, Vaughn Hagerty: ‘That conversation, that feedback, is key to a lot of the things we’re doing.'”

“What was once the province of doorsteps and homepages is now about the hustle of networking, the savvy application of technology and the dark art of promotion and marketing. And, increasingly, it’s everyone’s job,” the article continues. “The imperative for newsrooms to push stories far and wide is redefining the work of reporters and editors and prompting even more questions about the future of audiences, news brands and that standard-bearer of online journalism: the good old homepage. That the social networking scene has pushed into the news business is no surprise, but what is raising eyebrows is how quickly the famously slow-footed industry has embraced it.

“… By having newsroom staffers manage social networking accounts, they multiply the organization’s reach across the Web. Getting a story placed high on Digg — a live ranking of the Web’s most popular offerings — can, in turn, draw thousands of more hits. Twitter followers have proven to be avid and loyal readers, engaging with reporters who cover fields of interest to them. Facebook pages have become a venue for news organizations and individual reporters to post links to stories and respond directly to comments and questions.

“Readers are blushing from all the sudden attention; news organizations, meanwhile, are hoping that social networking will reduce their dependence on the unknowable algorithms of search engines to deliver traffic.”

(Thanks to Skyterrain for the heads-up.)

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