Saturday, January 26, 2013

Social news gathering

Social media is playing an ever increasing role in news gathering, according to Dennis Powell, senior producer at ABC News. Powell spoke at a recent Minnesota PRSA-Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/St. Paul event held at Best Buy headquarters.

For its coverage of Hurricane Sandy, Powell said that ABC News went through 300 pieces of social media. One piece that ABC News used was "Hurricane Sandy 3 Trees Fall and Fire!!" from YouTube.

"HootSuite is a wire desk of sources for a particular beat," said Powell.

While tweets can be published without permission, Powell emphasized the importance of authentication for other social media posts. For instance, ABC News will not run a YouTube video on air until it has the real name, phone number and e-mail address of the person who posted the video. This ensures that nothing fake is aired.

"Social media is an addition to the other news gathering tools," said Powell. When a news event happens, the ABC News "1440 Social Media Desk" follows these tips in order to determine appropriate social media content:
  • Put yourself in the place of the event.
  • What would someone say?
  • What would someone who knows someone say?
  • Where would they say it?
abc news social media
Dennis Powell, ABC News Senior Producer
Sources that the ABC News team uses as part of the social media news gathering toolkit include:
  • Twitter search
  • Twipho.net
  • OpenStatusSearch.com
  • Topsy.com
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • ABC News staff
Not every event has social media commentary, though. For instance, Powell noted that the Newtown school shooting was not a social media moment.
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