Martin Schibbye discusses the role of social media

Interview with Martin Schibbye, chief editor of the Blank Spot Project

Over the last year or so, many have started to examine, debate and question the role social media has in how it affects news reporting and news consumption, not to mention the rapid spreading of fake news.

Undoubtedly, social media has started to become a dominant player in the mix of channels. In the US alone, 67% of Americans report consuming some of their news on social media.

In this current context, Mynewsdesk interviewed Martin Schibbye, Chief Editor of the Blank Spot Project. We wanted to understand from a journalist perspective, how he uses social media to source and research stories, as well as understand how he views it has a channel.

What are your views on social media as an information source?

We as journalists can’t be rigid about where our audience is or where they spend their time. We need to be where they are with our stories.

How do you use social media in your job?

All these different social media tools offer an excellent opportunity for me as a journalist to not only produce content but to also be a conversation leader – to discuss my stories with my readers.

Why would you want to discuss your stories with your readers?

The whole journalistic idea of being in an ivory tower and sending out messages – those days are gone.

Most readers, viewers, and listeners will know more than I know about the topics I cover, and if I can add those perspectives in my reporting, my reporting will be better.

Why should journalists use social media?

All these tools that make communications possible are something we need to use, and we need to use them not only to spread out content and get people to share our stories but also use them for real communications and real one-to-one talks and conversations.

How does social media change the journalist’s role?

As a journalist, you have to see yourself as much more as a conversation leader than just someone who produces content. The story doesn’t end because you just press publish. On the contrary, it might take another turn; it’s an ongoing discussion with your readers and focuses some part of your working day on doing that.

How do you use social media as a research and engagement tool?

I tell the reporters I hire to spend 50% of their day on Facebook, discussing articles with your readers, and then the other half of the day on traditional journalism, calling people, writing articles and stories. Taking time to use these different tools to discuss your work is essential for building trust, and explaining what you do, how you do it and why you do it.

What advice would you give to new journalists just getting started in their career?

As a journalist, you will never be the one who has all the knowledge. The key insight to survive in a new media landscape is to understand that the readers know more than I do.

How has the reader’s role changed?

In the past, readers called in and pointed out spelling errors, or something else that went wrong in an article. Today, that has changed. Now, we must realize they may know more than I do, and if I can work with them on a story, it will make my journalism much, much better. Don’t question your readers only once you finish a story, but to do it from the very first idea you have; let them be a part of the process.

How can journalists regain the public’s trust in the media?

You can’t hide behind a reception desk. You have to be out there defending your journalism or explaining why things went wrong.

To understand the power and limitations of social media for news storytelling, get a copy of our latest ebook Social Media Reset.



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