11 Social Media

Social media includes YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and whatever other platforms may develop this week.

News organizations have gone from teasing with social media to displaying their product on it. Reporters go live on Facebook with regularity, and quality is improving. Ideally, you should tease back to your website and newscast. Your tease guidelines are to give a sample of the information you have, and then leave your readers with a question or fact that can be answered on your platform.

Social Media Can Be Used To:

  • Interact with your viewers and get their feedback
  • Research people and get their photos or videos (Facebook is public)
  • Reach out to people who are newsmakers
  • Poll your viewers
  • Use your followers to locate people who may be affected by a news item; e.g., if the governor is proposing a cut to farm subsidies, you can ask if anyone knows a farmer who would be affected by those cuts.
  • Add extra features that your newscast didn’t have time for
  • Show the personal side of yourself, reporters, anchors and staff

Keeping In Touch With Viewers

The one-way medium of television is over, with a two-way communication network enabled via social media. Viewers can now feel like they are better connected to your anchors and reporters and give feedback on your stories.

This allows for some good exchanges of ideas, and also some trolling. There is a private Facebook page devoted entirely to the crazy and inappropriate comments some viewers post on stations’ social media pages. It has no shortage of submissions.

Some newscasts, mostly morning shows, will read viewers’ Facebook feedback on the air. If the posts aren’t insightful or funny, they can be viewed as a waste time and send viewers reaching for the remote. Maybe I’m just old, and other people like to hear inane comments from people they don’t know.

Researching People and Pages

Many photos and videos of people that make it into news broadcasts are downloaded from social media. It is ethical to credit your source on the air with at least a courtesy super.

Wanted criminals will often have uploaded photos of themselves posing with guns and money before they became wanted, and felons on the run rarely take the time to clean up their feeds.  After a person has done something newsworthy, check social media quickly to find media of them. The interest they have created may be good or bad, but the bad ones are more likely to remove their uploads. After President Trump named Anthony Scaramucci as the White House Director of Communications, Scaramucci quickly deleted older anti-Trump posts. Outlets that did not act quickly or preemptively would have missed the chance to capture and report on the posts.

Polling Your Viewers

There are perhaps two types of polls: for research and for fun. You can run a research poll to see how your viewers feel about a given topic. KSL was working on a story about a special-needs girl who made noise at a restaurant prompting other diners to complain. On-air promotions directed viewers to weigh in on the issue of the rights of the diners versus those of the girl and her family; promising commenters would have input on the story.

Fun polls can also provide some value. “Do you like our warm weather?” is a time-waster, but “What’s your secret to beating the heat?” might produce some responses that other readers might find useful.

Facebook Live

If you’re going to use this or other apps that allow going live with your phone, do it sparingly. Let your viewers know they can trust you to show them something important when they receive a notification. It is common for reporters to “go live” on facebook before they go live on television.


Have a friend read comments about you, for you. If there is anything you need to know, they can tell you. They can filter out the sickos for you. The comments following a story I did about car idling included someone calling me a fag. The story was strictly about running cars wasting gas, but whatever. Unmediated comments get stupid, mean and pointless fast. Many outlets have them disabled on some or all stories.

Personal Pages Are Not Personal

It is tough for some to understand that social media is not private. Consider nothing transmitted to be secret. If you wouldn’t scream it to a crowd of your biggest detractors waiting to fault you and bring you down, don’t post it, tweet it, snap it, whatever.

I’m not saying not to make jokes about people, groups or organizations; I’m saying tell those comments to your friends in person, not via electronic transmission of any kind.

I’m not saying to not drink alcohol, I’m saying don’t post photos or texts of yourself drinking alcohol.

I’m not saying don’t have an arsenal of weapons; I’m saying don’t post pictures or texts of yourself with them. It’s bad tactical judgment to inform your enemies and potential burglars of your resources anyway.

I’m not saying not to hunt and kill animals; I’m saying don’t post pictures or texts of yourself with them.

I’m not saying don’t hold deep religious and political views; I’m saying don’t post them with your professional working name. Better yet, save them for parties and other in-person discussions.

I’m not saying there’s never anything funny at a bad situation; I’m saying don’t transmit or post any dark humor. Save it to deliver verbally, only for your most-trusted friends who will appreciate it.

Have you ever run into a friend who posts so much on social media that you already know everything they are up to and there is little need to catch up? Don’t be that person. And if you’ve ever participated in sexting, you should think twice about seeking an on-camera job. Ever.

If these guidelines sound too restrictive, remember that for thousands of years mankind has survived and enjoyed life without sharing food, politics and thought-provoking videos across the world. If you’re still not convinced, Google “fired over…” with any of the items on the list.

The website mentioned earlier whereon reporters can share the stupid and offensive stuff viewers say was breached in 2016, leading to a bunch of angry people aghast that reporters and anchors would share such things. If you’re accepted into this group, and it is stress-relieving and funny, have a username your viewers would not recognize.


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Writing for Electronic Media Copyright © by Brian Champagne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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