Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Social Media as a Credible News Source?
Still a little ooky about social media? Well, believe it or not, social media is a major element of news nowadays.
In recent weeks, as the Washington DC area was pummeled by an earthquake,
multiple aftershocks, Hurricane Irene, a couple of small tornadoes and
unprecedented flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Lee, news gatherers were turning to Twitter and other social media sites as sources of news.
The news anchors and weather reporters on every network would pull up a
Twitter page and actually read tweets as part of the newscast. The tweets were considered to be accurate, credible reports of damage, rising
waters, downed trees and power lines, and other issues.
During the height of Hurricane Irene, the FOX affiliate compared tweets from
different areas to identify how those areas were being affected by the
storm. For example, people on Maryland's Eastern Shore were talking about
high waves pounding the waterfront, folks in Prince George's County were
tweeting about power outages, Southern Maryland residents were concerned
about high winds and parts of Washington DC were astir with rising rivers.
The utility companies and emergency responders were paying attention to the
social media reports as well and many were interacting with customers via social media.
Who would ever have expected that 140 characters could make so much of a
difference? Is your agency on board?
And what about accuracy and squelching rumors?
This is a potential topic for a session at the NAGC Communications School in
June 2012. What do you think? Is this something we should pursue?