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Re-thinking Local News: Social Media and the Race to Remain Relevant in Journalism

Cami Anthony is the Assistant News Director at WFMY News 2 in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has worked at WFMY for 10 years and has served in a variety of roles including senior producer and executive producer. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelors degree in journalism and mass communication, electronic journalism.

“The only thing that’s constant in life is change." -Heraclitus

That’s true in all aspects of life, including the journalism industry. I’ve been working in a newsroom for 10 years. It seems like a long time to me, and to some of my younger co-workers. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. As I look back on my 10 years in local news, I’ve seen a lot of change!

WFMY News 2 Logo

I work for a company that has always embraced change, including the use of one-man bands/multi-skilled journalists, ahead of many other companies. At my station, we’ve re-designed the newsroom, redesigned the logo, remodeled the studio twice, and changed computer systems. But the biggest change I’ve seen over the past 10 years is the role social media plays in local news.

Ten years ago, social media was a way news stations shared their stories – posting the content that aired in the newscast on their Facebook pages for people to click and watch later. Now, Facebook is where news stations find their stories. By looking at what stories users are clicking on (on their pages or on other organizations pages) newsrooms let viewers dictate what the story should be. The process ensures that local news stations are telling stories people care about. They’re telling us they care by their clicks, likes, and shares. But it’s our job as journalists to go beyond the story they’ve clicked on. We have to find content they can’t find in a google search and take it a step further, to bring them the story behind the story.

Sometimes, it can be a struggle.

Traditional {cough, old school, cough} journalists want to look through news releases that come into the assignment desk or look through the newspaper to find something to make a TV story. But in today’s landscape, people have newspaper stories in the palm of their hand. Their friends have shared pictures from the events that we have releases about. They’re getting updates about everything else 24/7. So as 2017 journalists, we have to use what they’re telling us on social media. We have to dive deeper, find a great story, and then put it back on social media – so our viewers/users know we’re listening and getting them the content they want. Social media is not the enemy. It’s just the latest change in a the industry.

And we all know change is only thing that’s constant in life.

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