Local journalist offers insight on social media

It’s no secret that social media has turned many industries upside down, but how has this technology changed the media? Shannan Bowen, StarNews Media’s social networking and crime writer and “Talk and Squawk” blogger, knows best. Bowen addressed the UNCW Communication Studies Society on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 on the many aspects involving social media and technology in journalism.

Bowen says social media has helped StarNews Media reach audiences, such as college students, that they could not reach in the past. It has encouraged them to be more innovative and create new ways to keep the audience interested. For instance, when Tropical Storm Hanna hit Wilmington, leaving some without power, StarNews Media created @SNOHurricane on Twitter to deliver information on the weather by tweeting and retweeting. Bowen said this received a lot of traffic because the power was out and the only sources for updates were cell phones.

Social media sites are not only useful for media outlets to reach the public, but they are also helpful for hearing from the public. The public is the media’s link to what is happening around the community in its nooks and crannies. Bowen said they often use tips from Twitter or Facebook, and once they verify the information, they have a lead. Bowen did urge that it is “very important not to take tweets or Facebook posts at face value in journalism—that would be bad journalism!”

Bowen emphasized the rise of niche social marketing by discussing Ning.com, a social media site that allows the user to create the network. Many local businesses and groups are using Ning.com to form a network of their own. StarNews Media created several sites using this platform such as WilmOnFilm , a network for local film fans, and Conscience Online for local non-profits.

Her advice to college students interested in careers involving social media:

  • Keep up with major developments
  • Read communication related blogs
  • Know what is developing in the e-industry
  • Create your own blog and interact with others

Check out Shannan Bowen’s blog post Living a double life on Facebook.

Rachel Kaylor