Social Media Tools for Journalists

Nowadays, there are a million things that journalists need to know. The newsrooms have shrunk, the responsibilities have piled up, and it seems like every day, there is a new social network that you need to join to remain relevant. Social media management can be a breeze if you just have the right tools, which is what I have here for you.

  • Bitly is an online link shortener that is a great tool to keep track of how popular your blog posts are. This application stores data on how many times a link you created was clicked, where it was clicked, what platform someone clicked on it from, and when it was clicked. This can help you ascertain when is the best time to share your content across platforms. Another great feature of Bitly is that it saves all of your links, so I never lose track of my work. It is important to remember to re-share your content especially if it is content that is “evergreen,” which means it never really goes out of style. Re-sharing content on social media is very “in” right now, according to industry leading professionals like Guy Kawasaki, a brand evangelist for Canva. facebook-share-default1
  • Buffer is a wonderful website that lets you schedule content across platforms. From Facebook to Twitter, Buffer does it all. Its simple design is extremely user-friendly, so it is really easy to get acquainted with. Unfortunately, you can only schedule 10 posts at a time without a subscription. I like to keep my Buffer full of past evergreen articles scheduled for future dates, so I know my past content will keep getting shared and read. buffer-app-screenshot
  • Klout can help you gain an influence on social media sites. You receive a “Klout score” upon signing up that shows how relevant you are based on your social media interactions. A score of 55 is considered to be an industry influencer. Klout allows you to explore different topics, which people aren’t yet talking about in your social circles. It then allows you to schedule posts you find at times that it knows your followers are most active. You can schedule as much content as you want on Klout, so you can watch your Klout score and influence on social media rise quickly. Klout can help you remain relevant through curating content across platforms. c4b5bbd6-b93b-4037-9b97-35fe0099f3e6
  • IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, can automate processes to cut down on time that you have to spend on social media accounts. You can convert Tweets to Facebook page posts. You can save Tweets to your Google Drive. You can even have the weather texted to you in the morning. This app automates just about everything, and it can make your life so much easier, especially if you forget to share your content across platforms.IFTTT-Image-01-1024x716.png
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Snapchat receives backlash for ‘racist’ filter

Snapchat dawned the new Bob Marley filter in honor of 4/20, and people were not pleased. Many people saw it as glorified blackface and took to Twitter to voice their complaints.

The filter gives you dreadlocks and a darker complexion, and I have to wonder how did Snapchat not expect this backlash? Blackface is not acceptable, and it has caused its fair share of PR nightmares for schools, people or companies that steered too close to it. (Like the time a kid wore blackface to portray Nicki Minaj at school and made national headlines for it.)

Other people saw this filter as a way of mocking Bob Marley’s legacy.

Needless to say, very many people were not happy with this filter, and Snapchat has yet to reply.

The secrets to clickbait headlines-this will blow your mind!

There are many different types of headlines for the many different types of writing styles, but clickbait headlines have infiltrated nearly every newsroom or public relations firm. Clickbait headlines are everywhere.

From “10 Hacks to Gain 2 Million Followers Over Night” to “You Would Never Believe This Crazy Thing Kylie Jenner Just Wore,” clickbait headlines just sound ridiculous. They play off people’s innate curiosity by withholding information after sparking interest in a few exaggerated words.

It’s no secret that clickbait headlines are tacky, but do they actually work?

Not really.

Your content has to be jaw-droppingly incredible for readers to not get agitated when they are drawn into your content from the headline. So if your headline is something like “10 Hacks to Gain 2 Million Followers Over Night” and you really mean something more along the lines of “10 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Strategy,” you might want to go with the latter.

If you content is something short of incredible, you run the risk of angering your reader. While clickbait headlines garner attention, they don’t ensure that people read or share your content.

Buffer provides some great insights into how you can improve your headline writing without succumbing to writing clickbait in this blog post.

Do journalists need to appear unbiased in their personal lives?

It is crucial for traditional hard news reporters to appear that he or she lacks bias, so his or her work is not continuously called into question by the public for whom the journalist serves. In order to do so, a journalist must not participate in politics or demonstrations in his or her personal life. Although all people inherently have political opinions, a journalist must create a credible image for himself or herself in more than just articles, so the journalist can appear independent, balanced, fair and trustworthy to the public.

In the notorious case of Lesley Dahlkemper and Mike Feeley, Dahkemper had to give up her career as a journalist because she was engaged to Feeley who was running for governor. According to Black, Steele and Barney, “The political reporter [Dahlkemper] already was… talking to all the prospective candidates, and we felt we [the station] could easily be charged with favoring one candidate, or ignoring something to overcompensate, or saying something negative about another candidate.” Because Dahlkemper no longer maintained a façade of neutrality in her personal life, it not only jeopardized the credibility of her work, but also the credibility of the entire station she worked for. Even though Dahlkemper didn’t breach the code of ethics necessarily, she was ultimately not able to keep her job because it could appear as if she has a conflict of interest. According to Black, Steele and Barney, “’Appearance can undermine your credibility,’ said Griffin. ‘We rely on public perception that we don’t have anything more to do than report the truth.’” Although the station considered reassigning Dahlkemper and sought out alternative resolutions to this ethical dilemma, Dahlhemper resigned because the inherent conflict of interest was too big to be ignored.

For journalists that don’t write for traditional publication, appearing unbiased is not as important. Stay tuned for a blog post about how some journalists are moving away from appearing unbiased and moving toward advocacy journalism.

Troubling Trends and Trigger Warnings

The “iPhone 6 knees” challenge made its rounds on social media this past week. It is yet another example of how social media can be used to promote disordered eating. The challenge was used to prove how thin women’s legs were.

Because trends are inherently news, many women’s magazines and newspapers wrote about this. Some did a much better of reporting on it than others.

Kelsey Miller from Refinery29 did an exemplary job of reporting on this topic.

Because discussing a thinness challenge could potentially harm readers who are struggling with an eating disorder, Miller began the article with a trigger warning.

Trigger warnings have become somewhat controversial and even been the subject of some mockery. Regardless, I think the trigger warning used in this article was both a good and necessary decision. Trigger warnings allow for readers who may be affected by this article to either skip it or prepare themselves. I will let Miller tell you why:

‘Anything that claims to gauge one’s thinness and is accompanied by the word ‘challenge’ is going to be harder to resist for an eating disordered person,’ Kelsey Osgood told me. The author of How To Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia, Osgood is both personally and professionally versed in the language and rituals of ED. While these images are not precisely the same as pro-ana propaganda (which isn’t simply about thinness, Osgood explains, ‘but rather about aspiring to be pathological in addition to being dangerously thin”), they’d very likely have a similar impact. ‘My guess is that if someone with an eating disorder didn’t ‘succeed’ at one of these challenges, he or she would feel like a fat failure, even if exhibiting a myriad other symptoms/side effects of an eating disorder,’ Osgood adds.

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics explicitly emphasizes that journalists need to minimize harm through their work by showing compassion for those who may be affected by the coverage. This article could have detrimental side effects to people with eating disorders or struggling to overcome an eating disorder.

Journalists can’t always use trigger warnings in their work. It is impossible to know what is going to trigger everyone, but when reporting on troubling trends like “the iPhone 6 knee” challenge, it is important to do so. Reports on trends like this don’t do any good. It makes the trend more popular by discussing it. There is no good way to report on this, and Cosmopolitan provides the perfect example.

Although Cosmopolitan tried to discuss how terrible this trend was, it still promoted it. It provided images of the challenge, which perpetuates the idealization of overly thin bodies.

While the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics also said it is important to seek truth and report it, journalists constantly need to remember the potential implications of the articles they write.