The impact of social media on real-time journalism

According to the website Media Bistro, and average of 347,000 tweets are sent every minute of the day.  And Erik Qualman’s research has found that social media has become the No. 1 activity on the web.  That being said, there is no denying the social media sites are becoming increasingly powerful in disseminating information, and journalists and news organizations are now expected to take advantage of a number of different social media channels.

I chose to closely follow the Twitter feeds of St. Louis Public Radio and NPR for a day and compare and contrast the ways in which each news organization takes advantage of the social media site.  Both groups are similar in the fact that they are public radio news stations.  However, one is centered around city and state news and the other is national, so I figured there would be some noticeable in what stories they chose to focus on, and how they went about that.

Sure enough, NPR’s Twitter feed was mostly filled with big national stories, on topics like the national economy, joblessness, The New York Times hackers and issues with Syria and Iran.  On the other hand, St. Louis Public Radio’s Twitter feed included links to stories about the Missouri highway patrol chief, East St. Louis and the Cardinals.

On both Twitter feeds, nearly every tweet ended with a link to one of their stories.  Another similarity I noticed was that both groups did a good job of retweeting other people instead of constantly talking and never listening.  One of the biggest rules of Twitter as a news organization is to only retweet reliable sources with valuable information, and I found that both groups did a good job of that.  They mostly retweeted their own journalists or similar news groups.

Finally, I noticed that both groups took advantage of Twitter to promote their various radio shows.  I thought that was a smart move, since more and more people seem to be getting their information from social media these days.  Although the two Twitters were different, they both did a good job of connecting with their audiences and disseminating important information.

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