Social networking tools are transforming the way people communicate. They’re also transforming the way news is collected and delivered, according to participants on a panel on social media at NVision, a gathering of journalists at D.C.’s Newseum attended by the leaders of SmartBrief’s editorial operation.

The discussion, moderated by Craig Stoltz, was directed toward reporters and editors, but much of the panelists’ advice could be useful to SmartBrief readers in a variety of industries. Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t isolate your online activities from your “real life.” You have to nurture your networks, said Etan Horowitz, an Orlando Sentinel tech columnist. And before you ask your followers to do a favor for you, you have to make real connections with them. “The key is to building these networks ahead of time,” Horowitz said.
  • Don’t be stingy. Link to other people, and they’ll link back to you. “On the Web, linking is a fundamentally social thing,” said Scott Karp, CEO of Publish2. The true benefits of social media come when you collaborate, he said, even with — perhaps especially with — people you traditionally consider your competitors.
  • Be selective. Many business people focus their energy on social media sites in amassing followers and “friends,” but the real utility in social sites may actually lie in their ability to help us filter information out, said Jennifer Golbeck, assistant professor at the University of Maryland. Horowitz agreed: “The next thing is really the filtering and the aggregating.”
  • Take a step back. Social media has the potential to do more than just enhance how you do your job. It can radically change it, said Patrick Cooper of USA TODAY. While he was speaking to journalists, his advice to “unpack your reporting process” applies to everyone looking at social media with an open mind. “It’s really about breaking apart the pieces of what you’re doing now and seeing where the individual pieces fit in now.”

Photo credit: Son of Groucho

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