Social media is not a fad.
Kate Gardiner, a New York-based journalist and social media consultant, said journalists need to recognize that truth and continue to use social media to build communities online where they can better serve and interact with their audience.
But Gardiner has one caveat.
“I think that we have to start driving our audience back to our freaking websites, though,
because we have managed to put ourselves in an awkward position in terms of Facebook, where we’re paying to play with people who were our consumers in the first place. We kind of give them to them,” she said.
Gardiner came to journalism and social media in particular in the midst of the “Great Recession,” first as a student at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, earning a degree in Interactive Publishing and Urban Affairs reporting. She also received at Certificate in Media Management from Kellogg School of Management.
“I think that we have to start driving our audience back to our freaking websites.”
As the Internet becomes more stable and its “wild west” aspects begin to vanish, journalists can expect to see more controls being put in place on how content is reaching readers. This will reduce the ability of some to experiment.
“It’s the diversification of audience,” Gardiner said. “It’s the realization that social media is in fact important and impactful in a way that no one really expected it to be. It’s the realization that social can also highlight your failings. It kind of showcases the best parts of your organization and highlights the weaknesses in it.”
That being said, social media is not going away and its value is daily becoming more recognized.
“Being active and engaged in social can only help a young company, and being active and engaged on social can only help and encourage specific programming initiatives,” Gardiner said. “It’s also really important so that if in a crisis situation you have channels engaged and open to really reach out to the community of people who are either dependent on you, interested in you or who are going to support you through that crisis whatever that might be and however big that might be.”
Social media that works
Gardiner points to WNYC as one of the companies she thinks is doing a good job integrating social media into the work it does.
“I really liked what WNYC did during Sandy,” she said. “That was actually authored by Caitlin Thompson, politics editor. And I really enjoy what PBS NewsHour has done over its last four or five years.”
“I don’t know if news should’ve built Facebook, but we should’ve been more innovative about it in the first place, and now we’re playing catchup.”