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Tweet Dreams Are Made of This: Social Media and You

tweet.jpgThere's a little kicker at the bottom of my column today announcing that I'm taking next week off. Half that time I'll be helping my daughter move into her dorm room. The other half I'll be in jolly ol', attending a conference on social media.

What is (are?) social media? Well it's the catch-all term for things such as Facebook, Digg and Twitter, technologies that allow people to share information among friends (and "friends"), from the trivial to the vital. The challenge for anti-social media such as newspapers and newspaper Web sites, is how to approach/integrate social media. Sure we can stick a Facebook or Digg button at the bottom of a story, but can/should we be doing more than that?

Should we be sliding citizen Tweets right onto our Web site? Should we be aggregating--and in a sense, endorsing--the work of local bloggers? Should we be investing less in traditional forms of newsgathering and more in nontraditional forms? Are we more valuable as an institution that strives to quickly provide as much information as we can, regardless of its overall accuracy, or as one that curates information even if that means we're beaten on a story by a guy with an iPhone?

Those are some of the things that I'm sure attendees at this conference will be discussing--when they're not getting plastered at the pub, at least.

What do you think? I'm curious about your usage of social media. Have you ever turned to Twitter for news? Do you post Post stories on your Facebook wall? Do you wish you could do more than merely comment on a story you read online? Do you wish you could somehow have a hand in reporting it?

Leave thoughts below or shoot me an e-mail: And feel free to friend me on Facebook. I'm only being social.

By John Kelly  |  September 10, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
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My first experience with "social media" was Usenet (via Milnet) when I was in the Army, in the mid-80's. Then BBS's (bulletin board systems) in the 80's and 90's.

Then Slashdot which, while text based, was very social (in its early days). Slashdot led to, which is sort of a group blog running the Scoop software which was later used by DailyKos and RedState. When K5 (as we called it) got overrun by the trolls I moved to HuSi, which also runs Scoop.

Facebook is used purely to keep in touch with a few old friends living around the country, and a friend in Iraq.

Posted by: wiredog | September 10, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I am more addicted to facebook than I am willing to admit but I wish readers could give a thumbs up to reader comments without commenting myself.

Posted by: sg7472a | September 10, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The answer to some of your rhetorical questions about whether we should abandon traditional methods of newsgathering is, YES.

Social media and other forms of Web marketing is so much more than what you've touched on. It should be respected not only as another form of media, but a replacement to traditional methods.

Here's more:

Posted by: FFcommunicator | September 10, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I admit to my addition to social media. I find Twitter often alerts me to breaking news before most main stream media. I often post intersting Post stories to my Facebook wall and/or tweet about them. I'm also active on LinkedIn and I'm a member of several other social media sites. I find it really enhances my personal and professional relationships.

Posted by: dfriez | September 10, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I get most of my breaking news from Twitter and turn to reputable more traditional news organizations for an overview of local news. However, if I want to know what is going on in my own neighborhood, I turn to hyper local news sites or blogs which tend to report on stories that traditional news channels overlook because of time/space constraints. I do post interesting stories to my Facebook page as well to groups/users on LinkedIn. I prefer mobile, online and user generated content. Content for a "news cycle" is perpetual and decentralized. Citizen journalism, the rise of mobile devices, ease of publication and news aggregators has turned everyone into their own information gatekeepers.

Posted by: PRSoapbox | September 11, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

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