Organizations and Stakeholders

News Organizations using social media

msnbc social media sign-ups

I woke up this morning and as I ate breakfast, I updated myself with the happenings of the world by checking CNN. Another massive earthquake strikes — this time Chile is the victim.

The first item I clicked on was a video about an American Idol star who was in a hotel about 100 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. He had been sending Tweets about he earthquake since it hit. CNN kept an eye on his Tweets and shared them with its online audience. My personal Twitter page is full of Tweets about the earthquake’s rising death toll, tsunami waves in Hawaii and the like.

How are news organizations using social media?

It’s not news (pun intended), that consumers are a rising influence on any organization, and the news companies are not excluded in this trend. Traditional media sources have turned to online and mobile social media to build trust, develop relationships, and interact with audiences. For example, ABC News has its own Youtube channel where people can watch clips and comment on past news shows. On the MSNBC Web site , people can get MSNBC news sent to their mobile phone, follow it on Twitter or subscribe to its podcasts, RSS feeds or e-mail alerts.  The San Francisco Chronicle Web site links to its staff blogs on its homepage.

Who’s helping whom?

I can’t help but wonder if the news organizations or audiences are benefitting more from the adoption of social media. Personally, I usually find the updates on Twitter from news organizations to be much more helpful than even scanning through headlines on news websites. I also find that every news organizations allows people to subscribe to any kind of feed to get more people soaking in more information from the network.

Do news organizations and social media have the same core values?

On the surface, American journalism and social media have the same core value of democratization of information. Both serve as fast resources of information for the world. Where they might differ is that a core value of journalism is to give accurate, fair information to the publics. Since social media content is generated from individuals looking at their computer or mobile screen, the information is going to be perhaps less accurate and more biased. Journalists can still use social media as more resources to obtain news or just hear what their audience has to say.

News organizations have a new code of ethics for social media

In 2009, many media corporations like The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post adopted ethical guidelines for using social media like Twitter. The rules seemed to generally encompass issues such as:

  • Don’t talk about a story before it’s been published
  • Don’t talk about how a story was obtained or written
  • Don’t mix your personal life with work that will damage the organization’s reputation

To me, the list seems extremely similar to the classic Journalism code of ethics.

Long-time journalist, editor, and journalism professor in New York, Jeff Jarvis, disagrees with some of the adopted ethics policies in his blog post. He says the journalists would miss an opportunity to interact and work with the public to get news, which is the point of using social media like Twitter.

For more information on how news organizations use social media visit…

The Niemen Foundation of Journalism at Harvard blog, Let’s Talk: Journalism and Social Media.”


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Using social media to build relationships with journalists « Organizations and Stakeholders pingbacked on 8 years, 11 months ago


  1. I definitely agree that major news organizations are trying to penetrate the online universe. The thing is, no matter what we wish to think, news organizations have profit in mind. CNN, it’s not just news. It’s owned by Time Warner, it has a slogan, it has a logo, it has an image. It also has competition, and the only way for them to stay afloat is to meet people where they are: online using social media. I think it’s important that they abide by a code of ethics because when it comes to news, the smallest “oopsie” can cause a huge commotion.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 11 months ago
  2. * Kristin Dyer says:

    I think it’s a great idea for news organizations to use social media. I like to watch CNN headline news and often on the channel they encourage viewers to comment on their Facbeook page to way in on their views on the story. This adds a much more personal style to the news. It allows viewers to interact and really get their opinions out there and they can feel like their opinions actually matter. I think they need to be careful also with how closely they monitor postings to make sure that things do not get out of hand and cause a bigger issue.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 11 months ago
  3. * Jillian Whalen says:

    Sadly, the only way I stay connected to the news and stay up to date on everything is through the news organization’s social media sites. When CNN tweets a headline I think is interesting I click on it and find out that way. I think them using the social media sites benefits our generation because we know the technology and are more willing to use it. On the other hand, the older not so tech savy people won’t think anything of a tweet from FOX; they would much rather read it in the paper. So I think it’s up to the viewer in the end if social media sites really do work for the news.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 11 months ago
  4. I agree, Jill. I might go to CNN sometimes, but I usually just look at the updates on Twitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if newspapers and magazines went all online or on e-readers.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 11 months ago
  5. I agree with Jeff Jarvis. Currently taking an advanced writing and reporting class, I have had to abide by certain reporting ethics such as not asking your friends for interviews because they may be biased answers. I believe this goes along with the don’t mixing your personal life with reporting guideline. but I believe if you know your friend has expertise in this subject or may have experienced the topic, why not ask this person. That is not to say don’t ask other sources, but I don’t see any harm in it. I actually think it would harm you if you didn’t ask.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 11 months ago

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