The Society of Professional Journalists teamed up with the Radio Television Digital News Association this year to create the first journalism super-convention.
Journalists from all over the nation attended the three-day event, including seven from UMHB’s Bells staff.
It was a valuable experience for those who went to New Orleans Sept. 25-27.
If there was one thing taken from the convention, it was social media and the role it plays in journalism.
CBS Chairman and 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager addressed the topic saying, “I believe so strongly in Facebook and Twitter and the idea that you can go online and in seconds share one of our stories with your friends.”
This isn’t the future of journalism; it’s the present. CBS, ABC, The New York Times, NBC, as well as the local Belton Journal and Temple Daily Telegram all have Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Twitter was initially preferred for journalism because of the way it functions. Just click to follow, and one instantaneously receives tweets from any handle without going through the cyber formalities of “friending” someone on Facebook.
Facebook caught on. However, mid-September a new feature of subscribing, taking out the middleman of having to accept friends was added. Time will prove if this step is enough to catch up to the social media of choice for real-time journalism.
National Public Radio senior strategist and avid Twitter advocate Andy Carvin, encouraged journalists to take advantage of all that social media have to offer.
In his convention super session, he shared his take on the advantages and impressed a crowd of journalists with his exhaustive use of this particular social media.
In the event of a recent Arab insurgence that was one of the many rebellions which came to be known as the Arab Spring, Carvin used his followers to see the uprising from his “virtual helicopter.” Situational awareness he called it.
Using some tweets from his followers who were at the scene, he was able to piece together an entire scene on the other side of the world from his living room.
“There is no way that one reporter could know as much as your community of followers combined on any given topic,” Carvin said, further stressing the unavoidable resource that is Twitter.
It is important to keep in mind that “technology doesn’t replace journalism. It empowers it,” said University of Southern California Annenburg Assistant Professor and Web journalism veteran, Robert Hernandez.
In his session, “Real-Time Reporting with Social Media,” Hernandez, while all for social media, had five warnings to share with his audience: Keep journalism the main priority, confirm all of the information that you acquire, do not use media to interview, balance personal and professional matters on one account, and be open to this journalistic revolution.
Hernandez believes that “journalism will outlast Facebook and Twitter.”
While that may be the case in the future, Excellence in Journalism 2011 came to one general consensus: Journalism has gone social.