Social media and local television news

As I’ve mentioned, I’m taking a class on social media. It’s a doctorate-level class and it’s one I enjoy most. There’s lots of discussion and interesting readings. This is what graduate school is really about! I’m required to do a final project and paper for the class and I’ve decided to look at how local and regional television news stations are using social media to interact with viewers. I’m not sure if I’m going to look at it from the angle of the media entities or from the perspective of the users.

Since I live in Knoxville, TN, I’ll use Knoxville as my example. There are five stations here, one of which operates on two channels with a 10pm airing and 11pm airing of the broadcast. National news media are making somewhat of a splash when it comes to user-generated content and online discussion. CNN comes to mind. is well set up to share stories on Facebook and Twitter, as well as having an entire sub-site dedicated to iReports, where users submit videos and pictures they’ve taken. This idea is so simply brilliant! Reporters are generally phenomenal at finding and reporting stories, but they can’t be everywhere all the time.

Broadcasting 101 – What makes something newsworthy?

  • Timing – Get the story as close to when it’s happening as possible.
  • Significance – Find stories that effect many people.
  • Proximity – Make the news hit home. And if it’s in your hometown, even better!
  • Prominence – Top-of-mind stories. If it’s a Twitter hash tag, it’s prominent.
  • Human Interest – Pull on the heart strings. Even if it doesn’t directly affect the mass audience, they can relate.

If you didn’t quite get the genius of involving the audience before, you surely should now. But are local outlets taking as much advantage of these tools as some national ones are? And why? Is it money? Is it time? Or is it bigger?

For the record, I’m not accusing any of the Knoxville media of anything. I don’t have an opinion of what they’re doing in terms of harnessing user-generated content or engaging the audiences online. I’m just here to ask questions, find problems, and ultimately offer solutions.

So back to the questions. Is it something more than financial means and manpower? Do local TV stations find this type of content important? Is it easier for them to go get the story themselves, geographically and otherwise, than have the community bring it to them? Or is there a lack of interest on the part of the community? Is the national stage more appealing in terms of gathering the content and loading it to the web?

Furthermore, what kind of people are likely to think in terms of newsworthiness when they’re living their daily lives? How do they feel the media in their area do in terms of gathering and delivering news? Should they feel an obligation to take part or are they satisfied with what they’re given?

I’m excited to get started on this project and find out what the professionals and community members think about news-gathering, sharing, and conversion surrounding the like on the web.

For me, I follow several local media on Facebook and Twitter. I chime in on a fairly regular basis and have even loaded a video to one of their social media sites. There was a flood and I caught it all on camera! When I get answers, I’ll be sure to pass them along.

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