Social media: How a modern journalist gets information

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Portals and websites gathering communities around social media are a great source of topics for a contemporary journalist. In most cases, these article materials are easy for good observers to find. However, it is worth spending your time on reaching a given group deeper, and when they trust us, we will receive a constant source of interesting and, above all, exclusive topics.

Before a modern journalist starts using web 2.0, he must be well prepared. If he or she once got exposed the members of a given group, it will be practically impossible to return to her favors. By registering on internet forums or on the largest and most popular websites such as “Wykop”, “Mistrzowie”, “Kwejk”, “Demotywatory”, “Youtube” or “Blip” we join an existing community to which we are completely strangers. We have to work hard for her favor.

Wybrane serwisy społecznościowe z podziałem na kategorie fot. fredcavazza / CC BY 2.0
Selected social networking sites divided into categories
photo: fredcavazza / CC BY 2.0

It is worth starting with getting acquainted with the topic covered on a given portal. If Internet users see that we can adapt and adhere to the netiquette (special rules) in force in a given community, they will be more likely to contact us. I would like to draw your attention to an interesting phenomenon – community regionalization. It consists in the fact that people do not attach themselves exclusively to one, the largest social networking site, but try to reach sites that meet their needs as much as possible and offer the company of people similar to them. This way, new, smaller sites have a chance to break through the web and attract people. An example is the nationwide forum of Honda car enthusiasts, which was transformed into an association called Honda Club Poland. The forum gathers all fans and owners of various models of this manufacturer – from cars to motorcycles.

Despite such a large space for users to discuss with each other, this has proved to be insufficient. More forums and associations were created that dealt exclusively with specific Honda models. The most popular website belongs to the Civic Klub Polska Association, which deals with only one model of the manufacturer. Currently, the website has over 23,000 registered people, of which nearly 7,000 regularly write on the forum. It may seem that such fragmentation is good, because it allows better meeting the expectations of Internet users who search the web for specific information and thus can find it much faster. It turned out that such a division was also not enough and local services and clubs of car lovers were created in individual provinces. The forum of the Honda Team Lublin club has nearly 2,000 users who organize regular meetings in Lublin and the region. In turn, the Lublin club has also divided into local ones in Chełm, Zamość and Puławy.

Wielkie koło social media fot. Ethority / CC BY 2.0 Ethority
Wielkie koło social media
fot. Ethority / CC BY 2.0 Ethority

People like to read about their immediate surroundings and events, and they also like to connect with people with similar interests. They are very happy if someone pays attention to their local problems that others downplay. This is where the modern journalist comes in, who no longer needs to be in many places at once to gather information. By using the phenomenon described above, it can easily reach representatives of local communities, and you don’t have to look far for them. Almost every social group, club of lovers of a given thing, and even residents of a given estate are present on the Internet and have their own websites. It is in their pages that they often write about their problems, announce events, raise topics of current problems, and even try to solve them by documenting everything that is going on around them.

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Journalist in social media

Many people, including journalists, claim that they have not registered with any social networking site and are glad that they do not have their own account, e.g. on Facebook. In this way, they want to impress others by emphasizing their difference. At the same time, they lose the excellent and very fast source of information that flows from such websites. One of the examples is the Blip.pl website, which allows you to publish short sentences, photos, links in the form of messages. When writing messages, users mark them in a special way, thanks to which such content will reach the appropriate target group. Each word, string of characters can become such a special tag. In addition to publishing, we can also track specific tags, such as “Lublin”. Thanks to this, we will receive notifications about new entries on the selected messenger, such as Gadu-Gadu or mobile phone. It very often happens that users ask others about an event they have witnessed, or add photos of, for example, accidents. Lech Wałęsa, who publishes on his profile many photos from various events with his participation, meetings with fans, or even report from his stay in the hospital. [1] It is also a tool helpful in previewing the readings of the competition, which will provide you with shortcuts of the latest information added by other portals on an ongoing basis.

An absolute necessity for a modern journalist is registration in one of the most popular social networking sites in the world, also in Poland – Facebook. Without your own account, you cannot view the content of the portal, as well as what other people, brands, institutions and companies write. It is an excellent mine of topics and the media very often use the information found on Facebook to build topics. Łukasz Michalik from socialmedia.pl believes that creating a Twitter account or a Facebook page does not make sense if it is an end in itself. Just setting up an account is just the beginning. The beginning is also the preparation of an attractive website. They are only means to an end ”[2].

According to the report “Journalists and Social Media 2011” prepared by Multi Communications, journalists are still reluctant to use social networking sites in their work. Nevertheless, the most popular among them are blogs, the entries of which seem to be the most authentic [3]. Facebook came second. Interestingly, the third place is Wikipedia, considered by many scholars to be an encyclopedia of collective stupidity. It is also worth noting the small but noticeable share of YouTube in the report. David Landis, president of Landis Communications Inc, comments on the report. – Journalists do not necessarily use Facebook for private purposes. They very often use it to track what is being said about a given company. 58 percent journalists in Poland treat social media as a source of inspiration. Wise journalists look for new material wherever there are discussions, and now they are more and more often online. [4].

Wyjaśnienie tematyki portali społecznościowych na przykładzie pączka fot. ChrisL_AK CC BY 2.0
Explaining the subject of social networks on the example of a donut
photo: ChrisL_AK CC BY 2.0

According to the report, journalists online look for inspiration rather than facts. Half less people use portals to find comments and opinions, which they then use in their materials. Moreover, the respondents stated that the most reliable information is published on blogs. In turn, portals such as Youtube and Twitter were assessed as more attractive than reliable [5].

Citizen journalists, often underestimated, are also an excellent source of information. Writing is one of their hobbies and very often they like to publish materials related to their other interests. It also happens that citizen journalists are employees of various institutions or public services and constantly come across exclusive information in their work, which they share with the editorial office. It is desirable because the spokespersons of public institutions in Poland act very slowly and in emergency cases, they make journalists wait from several hours to several days to confirm or deny information. On the other hand, citizen journalists willingly choose to pursue topics themselves, and sometimes even ask editorial offices to commission them to do so. More on the cooperation of civic journalists with editorial offices in subsequent entries.


[1] Official profile of Lech Wałęsa on Blip.pl, http://lechwalesa.blip.pl/, 24.04.2012

[2] Michalik Ł., Social Media Blog, http://socialmedia.pl, 24.04.2012

[3] The popularity of websites in journalists’ work, Report Journalists and Social Media 2011, commissioned by Multi Communications, http://www.slideshare.net/bartlomiejdwornik/dziennikarze-i-social-media-2011

[4] Advice: you can’t afford PR? Get involved on social media, http://proseedmag.pl/aktualnosci/porady-nie-stac-cie-na-pr-udzielaj-sie-w-mediach-spolecznosciowych, data dostępu: 10.05.2012

[5] Popularity vs Credibility, Journalists and Social Media Report 2011, commissioned by Multi Communications, http://www.slideshare.net/bartlomiejdwornik/dziennikarze-i-social-media-2011

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Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewiczhttps://jotem.in
Hi, I am the author of the Jotem.in blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.
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