News Leadership 3.0

May 01, 2009

Social Media: Challenges and Opportunities

KDMC/NewsU class participants discuss ways news organizations can move forward with social media and what may hold them back

Twelve news organizations are participating in “Using Social Media to Build Audience,” an online class for executives from traditionally print news outlets. One of the first questions participants discussed was the opportunities and challenges of social media for news organizations.

(Most of the class participants were using networks such as Facebook and Twitter before class. Others are just getting started or reactivating dormant accounts.)

These executives (business-side folks are in the class as well as editors) are expansive about the opportunities of social media for news organizations:

“The social networking opportunities for news organizations are endless, ranging from sourcing to news tips to growing trust.” - Lori Buselt, The Wichita Eagle

“I see huge opportunities for strengthening our brand in the social media environment, expanding our audience and connecting people with our content. Hopefully, advertising opportunities will arise from our presence there.” - J. Todd Foster, Bristol Herald Courier

“The opportunities are limitless. In no particular order: We can quickly communicate with very large audiences or very focused groups. We can disseminate information efficiently and effectively at any time to any where and one. We can get feedback—and we can give feedback. We can have sicussions with individuals or focus groups or virtual town hall meetings. We can make ourselves even more accessible and accountable. Most of all we can offer social media and its users our respected, reliable, trustworthy brand.”  - Mark Vasche, The Modesto Bee

Class participants also see challenges—some of which reflect the unknowns of social media, others the attitudes of journalists:

“The biggest challenge I see is being journalistic in our use of these tools: adding value with what we transmit and recognizing the power of these tools for reporting. The second challenge is experimenting without being scattered; how to we avoid overloading both our staffs and our readers/customers?” - Melanie Sill, The Sacramento Bee

“One big challenge before news organizations is identifying and reaching all the communities naturally suited to social networking,” Rick Thames, Charlotte Observer

“Experimenting doesn’t come naturally (to newsrooms), and ‘failing’ is abhorrent. When it comes to social networking and the Internet in general, we face an immediate, self-imposed challenges in ‘getting it right.’ We’re the supposed experts on everything, informing our readers on what’s true or not. We cannot let that attitude block attempts to bring user-generated content ontor or sites—even if, horrors, it’s unvetted opinion or vitriolic comment.” - Dan Day, The Modesto Bee

A final word goes to Sherry Chisenhall, editor of The Wichita Eagle. She sees the potential for news organizations to recapture a core role: Community connector.

“The opportunity is enormous to serve a hub or connecting role that we’ve sought for decades as a print medium. How long have newsrooms talked about the need to connect better to their communities? Isn’t technology just giving us a way to do that on a broader and deeper scale? Perhaps to succeed in a way we never satisfactorily managed in print?”

What challenges is your organization encountering as you adopt social media tools? What opportunities do you see? Please share your ideas in the comments.

 

Comments

This is a very interesting article and I’ll use it in my college writing…

“The biggest challenge I see is being journalistic in our use of these tools: adding value with what we transmit and recognizing the power of these tools for reporting. The second challenge is experimenting without being scattered; how to we avoid overloading both our staffs and our readers/customers?”

Thanks, Peter.


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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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