In eleven weeks time, I have gained new perspectives on the uses of social media and expanded my own thoughts on the potential and opportunity that exist in using new platforms of communication. From my own Twitter account, I have made larger inferences about societal needs and peoples’ reasons for engaging in online outlets. I have also seen Facebook as a place for misuse and a place that brings strong connectivity. Lastly, in identifying the transitional process of journalism, I have come to realize the broader impact social media has brought to my future. But in eleven weeks time, the greatest knowledge I have gained is in realizing that my social media adventure has just begun.
I originally embarked on a journey that would allow me to share my experiences as I navigated through unknown territory of social media. I have come to realize that my journey is a never-ending process of engaging and learning. New mediums are constantly surfacing that bring more users and interaction than ever before. As MySpace became a fleeting memory, so to will other online entities rise and fall in popularity. With that being said, my social media interaction cannot be cut into a segment of time, but is rather a continuous cycle of development.
At the end of the original time allotted, I decided not to create a Facebook account for more reasons than one. The main source of my reasoning stems from not needing a Facebook to feel involved or in included. I simply do not feel drawn to Facebook for pictures or personal updates in the way others do. However, those are current thoughts, which are subject to change as I continue my social media adventure. Beyond the personal realm, I have come to realize that many individuals engage in Twitter and Facebook for professional reasons.
Samantha Bush, the Mobile and Social producer for the Arizona Republic, uses Twitter, Facebook,, Google+ and Instagram to promote content and monitor for breaking news.
“To know social media is to be fast and to care about what’s happening now, not what’s going to happen or what has happened. It’s all about the present,” Bush said.
But Bush did not always support combining social media and journalism.
“I wasn’t sold on it when it came to promoting news,” Bush said.
Today, news comes to people through Twitter and push alerts and Bush acknowledges social media’s ability to share news.
“It’s not that people need to be told to read the story, it’s that people need to be told where to find the story,” Bush said.
In a recent meeting at the Arizona Republic, Bush explained that staff members discussed the fast-pace nature of social media.
The majority of young kids are on Instagram because their parents are on Facebook, Bush said.
“Facebook is out, Instagram is in,” Bush said.
People use social media in different ways, but the point is not to lose communication, Bush said.
“For me, Twitter is not so much that you lose interaction, it’s that you’re having all these conversations that you never would have had the chance to have in the first place,” Bush said.
But Bush does not enjoy all aspects of using social media in her profession.
“What I hate about my job when it comes to social media is that there are certain things that I just know are going to be crazy popular online that I think are just useless to the public conversation,” Bush said.
Driving page views and getting “likes” on Facebook is part of Bush’s job.
A recent story on Harvey, a show buffalo in Cave Creek who climbs a trailer roof, is not the hard news story Bush would like to share.
“A million other things happened today that are much more important. The function of journalism is to inform the electorate, and we’re not doing that, we’re talking about buffalos,” Bush said.
Bush said she Tweets about business news, politics, sports and the fluff stories equally.
“But what gets the interaction? It’s the fluff stories,” Bush said.
For Tauhid Chappell, the Social Media Producer for 12 News, audience interaction is important.
Social media allows reporters and anchors to connect with their viewers and promote their work, Chappell said.
And for aspiring journalists, having social media experience is critical.
“It shows that you are testing and adapting to new platforms and new products that people are using,” Chappell said. “It’s definitely important to be apart of that conversation, otherwise you’re just missing out on what everybody else in talking about.”
As I continue my education and enter the professional world, it is clear that social media is important for audience interaction, news sharing and self-promoting. While the web of social media continues to grow, I must find my place between the tangles of professional and social uses of online interaction. In my social media adventure, I have had the opportunity to discuss, share and learn from those who use numerous online outlets each day. But throughout my endeavor, one theme remains the same—the ways in which social media is used determine its potential for both misuse and its capability to act as a powerful tool of global unification. I am excited not only for my own path, but for the direction of interaction and future communication.