I have flip-flopped for a few days on this dilemma. What’s the single most important social channel for CNN? (my most recent employer**) Facebook? Twitter? Vine? Instagram?
I even conducted a little social engagement of my own, tapping my Facebook (the irony) focus group of journalist friends with a little poll. The majority answered Facebook but the discussion was very insightful. If you are interested in the comments, click HERE.
After careful consideration, I’m going with Twitter. On this date, at this time, Twitter is the single most important social channel that CNN can use. Why?
- The Boston Bombings
- US Airways Plane in the Hudson
- Seal Team 6 Takes Down Osama Bin Laden
- The Royal Engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton
- The Death of Whitney Houston
- Arab Spring
These are all news events that Twitter reported first. (Mark Hachman) Not Associated Press. Not the New York Times. Not CNN. Twitter.
In thinking about this discussion topic, I read several articles and a couple Pew Studies. I am including the links if you have an interest in reading further:
- · Twitter is Becoming the First and Quickest Source in Investment News
- · Social Media Is Changing How We Consume News, Says Former CNN Exec Steven Korn
- · Pew: What Facebook and Twitter Mean For News
- · Pew: 8 Key Takeaways About Social Media & News
- · Pew: The Facebook News Experience
- · The Mobile Inevitability: How CNN is Prepping For the Majority Mobile Audience Coming in 2014
- · CNN & Twitter Partner with Dataminr To Create News Tool For Journalists
- · A link to a series of interesting Media & News Interactives
In this digital, information in an instant age, journalists have to be realistic. We can’t be everywhere. We have to look at everything as a possible source. We can’t look down our nose at social media as a lower quality, less valid resource of information. It is another tool. Consider it the Deep Throat of this generation and like Woodward and Bernstein, we have to fact-check our sources. Always. It’s great to be first but it’s better to be first and right. Once out there, you can’t take it back.
Before commercials can be sold, content can be sponsored, Facebook populated with advertisements, there has to be a story. There has to be original content that engages. Right now, Twitter is the best newsgathering tool for national/international organizations like CNN to find that story at its inception. The CNN/Twitter partnership with Dataminr reinforces that. Upon announcing the venture, Dataminr CEO Ted Bailey told TechCrunch the goal is to “alert journalists to information that’s emerging on Twitter in real time.” (Anthony Ha) The article continues revealing, “…the technology looks at tweets and finds patterns that can reveal breaking news when it’s still in its “infancy”.”
Overall, I respectfully submit that in my industry, the line of thought MUST be that there is no one channel above all others. There needs to be an integrated strategy with resources equally distributed. CNN, in my opinion, is far more powerful and relevant when the images from Vine and Instagram are incorporated into the news tips revealed on Twitter, backed by the fact-checking of the trained journalists, presented on multiple screens (Facebook, Television, Website, Mobile) for audience engagement.
For this discussion though, if I have to pick one, I pick Twitter. We are nothing without the story. What can I say…I’m an idealist.
Mark Hachman. (April 19, 2013). 6 Stories That Broke on Twitter. Retrieved on May 31, 2014,http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/310559/6-stories-that-broke-on-twitter/7
Anthony Ha. (January 29, 2014). CNN and Twitter Partner with Dataminr to Create News Tool for Journalists. Retrieved on June 1, 2014, http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/29/dataminr-for-news/
**As of this post (June 1, 2014), I am not employed by CNN. I do not speak for CNN and what is expressed here is only my opinion formed by my years in journalism and my time as a CNN Executive Producer.