Forget newspapers and television news because social media has increasingly become a main source for today’s news. Social media has specifically changed the landscape of sports journalism with the ability to now live tweet and find out breaking news in an instant. A closer examination into this will be done by looking at how Canadian sports company Sportsnet uses social media and interviewing a NY Times sports writer named Andrew Keh.
Sportsnet has both a Twitter and Facebook account. Both accounts feature about half a million followers with their Facebook page having slightly over 500,000 likes and their Twitter page with slightly over 400,000 followers. The Sportsnet twitter page appears to be more active than their Facebook page as their Twitter page features frequent retweeted updates from live sports event while their Facebook page only highlights main stories or recaps from previous games. Many journalists from Sportsnet have Twitter pages but do not have Facebook pages. By browsing both platforms of social media, one can draw conclusion that Sportsnet’s Twitter page is more personal to its viewers while the Facebook page is more corporate.
Majority of Sportsnet’s journalists use Twitter to communicate with their audience. Major journalist Tweeters such as Shi Davidi, Barry Davis, Mike Wilner, Sid Seixeiro and Bob McCown each envoy their message through Twitter in a different voice. For example, Shi Davidi and Bob McCown have a more professional, serious voice to their tweets while Mike Wilner, and Sid Seixeiro include more satire and humour in their tweets. Each group of journalists still bring their message to their audience just under a different light. Most of these journalists, especially Mike Wilner are very engaging with their followers also, not only do they deliver information but they also interact with the community. This helps blur the line of old time Fortress Journalism where writers and reporters were regarded as above average citizens but due to social media, the line has greatly blurred. Sportsnet does a great job at highlighting this with their journalists repeatedly tweeting back at their followers. Unfortunately, Sportsnet does not make their social media guidelines available to the public as every search for them comes up empty. It would be easy to assume that while Sportsnet gives its employers some room for creativity with their tweets, any personal life material is not tolerated and any slandering to individuals is not allowed.
To add on how social media affects sports journalism, I interviewed Andrew Keh, a NY Times sports writer.
Q:How valuable is social media to your work as a journalism?
Andrew :It’s extremely valuable. I’d say it’s almost essential. Social media, like Twitter, helps journalists keep tabs on the top stories of the day and what colleagues and competitors and subjects are writing and reading. It works as a community and network for journalists to interact and exchange ideas. And I often use both Facebook and Twitter to reach out to potential new sources.
Q:How much time do you spend each day on social media?
Andrew : I probably open Facebook one or two times as day. If I’m at my computer, I have Twitter open at all times through Tweetdeck and look at it from time to time. If I’m out reporting, I periodically open the Twitter app on my phone. So Twitter is a fairly constant presence for me throughout the day.
Q: Do you have separate personal and professional social media accounts?
Andrew :I don’t have separate accounts for different tools, but it general, I generally see Facebook as a site for personal stuff and Twitter as one for professional stuff. Though that distinction probably gets blurrier every day. In general I think there is some value to having a personal touch in your professional social media accounts, anyway.
Q:What journalist do you think is a must-follow on social media?
Andrew : I can’t think of just one, honestly. The beauty of social media, and Twitter in particular, is that you can tailor your feed to your needs. I’ll be a good company man and say @NYTSports, our section’s Twitter feed. The editors do a great job keeping that one updated with our best stories, in a timely fashion, without being overbearing.