Need for readers to feel attached to story is reason social media so important, reporter says

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Twitter and Facebook have grown into some of the world’s most popular news providers because of its ability to share news as it happens. Carson Deveau photo

By Carson Deveau

Jan. 29, 2016

Teresa Wright was covering a legislative meeting for The Guardian newspaper when she started to live-tweet the event, posting it to her Twitter account.

Then she returned to her office and began writing stories for the next day’s paper.

Her editor walked up, asked her about the live-tweeting and told her not to waste her time.

“These fads come and go, there’ll be a new one tomorrow.”

That was 2008.

Today, Twitter has over 307 million monthly users.

And Wright, the first reporter at The Guardian to live-tweet an event, is shocked how quickly others started to do the same thing.

“When I started tweeting, my username was @theguardianreporter because I was the only one doing this, I didn’t have to be more specific.”

Now she does everything on social media, whether it’s sharing her latest story to Facebook, answering a reader’s question, or finding sources.

Social media has become one of the most important tools a journalist has because you can do everything on it, she said.

“It’s very important. I use it all day, every day.”

She isn’t alone.

Ryan Ross works for The Guardian and uses Twitter regularly to get his stories to the public.

Twitter makes it easier for the readers to share their voices, he said.

“It’s a great way to get a conversation going between the readers and the writer.”

While Ross uses websites and apps such as Twitter and Facebook daily for his work, he doesn’t feel the need to expand his outlets of social media any further by using the app Snapchat.

Snapchat lets users send photos and videos to friends. They can also upload these to their ‘story’, which allows all of their followers to see it for 24 hours.

“I can see why it’s useful for personal one-on-one conversations, but I’m not sure how they’d use it to get news out. I just don’t see the appeal.”

Geordie Carragher sees it differently.

Carragher is a graduate of the journalism program at Holland College. He works in Prince George at the University of Northern British Columbia’s athletic department.

Apps like Twitter and Facebook are good for most stories, but Snapchat has its place in the newsroom too, he said Jan. 25 while speaking to journalism students about the importance of social media.

“People sometimes want a visual to go with the news.”

Wright is fine being connected with just two websites because she has to be careful enough now.

“It’s important to watch what you put out there. It’s a fine line.”

The key is never to give person opinions, always step back and have a moment of clarity, she said.

“If you find yourself questioning if you should post it, don’t.”

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