(Nearly) Live at Social Media Week – Journos With Their Ear to the Ground

If you attended a panel discussion with the title “From Headlines to Hashtags” you might expect to find a group of media types talking about how social has become a key distribution platform, about how they promote themselves and their stories on different networks.

But this group of journalists, including representatives from newspapers, TV and radio in Los Angeles, talked instead about how they listen.

Los Angeles Times Social Media Editor Stacey Leasca, responding to a question about what was the goal of her department, responded “make LA Times a person that people wanted to engage with.” Leasca, who is part of the editorial, not the marketing, department talked about how the Times recently shifted their social media focus to “take a harder look at what our audience is saying.”

Michael Slate, a producer with KPFK-FM, the Pacifica station in LA, talked about how he and the KPFK staff use social media for gathering news. He cited a couple of stories that they would not have known about were it not for Twitter. “Lots of news doesn’t get reported and when it does it gets slanted,” he said, adding that being able to get tweets from people who are on the scene enables the news staff to get beyond the surface of a story. Egypt and Ferguson are examples of that.

Chris Schauble, morning news co-anchor at KTLA 5, is also a committed Twitter user. He pointed out the value of having people being able to tweet information while you are actually on the air. “Twitter turns all of your followers into mini-assignment desk managers.”

As with all journalist and social media panels, there was some discussion of the urgency and immediacy that social media creates as well as some concerns about verifying sources.

The overall impact, according to Schauble, is that there is more breaking news because of the “abundance of information we are all exposed to.” Asked whether he was reluctant to cite other news organizations as sources, he said “we are beyond the day of caring where the attribution comes from. We just want the info.”

Leasca said it is the LA Times policy that they would rather be right than first. She did say there were times when they would tweet a breaking news headline before they had finished the full story.

Slate said, “I treat any story I get with the same rigor.” All agreed with the need to verify social media sources. But Schauble noted that sometimes social media can provide that verification by providing multiple tweets about breaking news.

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