This From the Sidelines column appeared in the September 28, 2016 edition of the News Journal:
Social media truly is a double-edged sword. It brings people together, but it can also alienate us. It can inform, but it is also the source of much misinformation. It allows some to inspire, and at the same time it allows others to do harm.
As a reporter, I constantly find myself trying to strike that perfect balance between using social media to spread news, while at the same time not overusing it so that there will still be a reason for folks to actually go out and pick up a paper each Wednesday. It’s a real challenge, but it’s one that all of us in this profession must find a way to deal with.
In today’s world, social media is a very important part of most people’s lives. Even if you’re not currently using Facebook, Twitter or one of the many other social media services, you are probably still affected by it in some indirect way. Maybe somebody saw something on their feed, and then they decided to share that information with you. Maybe somebody snapped a picture of you with their phone, and now they’re going to share it with all of their friends online. There are many, many ways that social media can factor into our lives, either directly or indirectly, resulting in several potential positive or negative outcomes.
Recently, I have been thinking about how I can more effectively utilize social media so that it will have a larger positive impact on our publication, and on you, our wonderful readers. I’ve come up with a few ideas, and I’m excited to share those details with you this week.
First, I would like to begin featuring a “Tweet of the Week” in the sports section each Wednesday. It’s a simple concept. All you have to do is mention us in a tweet (@cwnewsjournal), say whatever you’d like to say, include a picture if you want and be sure to add the hashtag #NJTweetoftheWeek. That’s all. I will then take a look at all qualifying tweets, and select one each Wednesday as our “Tweet of the Week.”
Another idea I had was to do a weekly Twitter sports poll. We do polls fairly regularly on the News Journal Twitter account right now, but this series of polls will be exclusively sports related. I am also going to take it one step further and run the results of each poll right here in the sports section each Wednesday. I like doing polls, and I think most of us enjoy voting in them. I’ll try to make these related to local topics of interest, but there may be times when I branch out to regional, state, national or even world sporting events. Just look us up on Twitter each week, and cast your vote. Simple as that!
Moving along, I think it would be really cool to give everyone out there a chance to see one of their photos appear in print in the pages of the News Journal. So, beginning now I am hoping to run another weekly feature called “Follower Photos.” These will be pictures submitted by you, the reader, and they can be from any sporting event, at any age level in the Corbin/Williamsburg area. Just go on Facebook or Twitter, mention/tag us in a post that includes your photo and be sure to add the hashtag #NJFollowerPhoto. If your photo gets selected to run in the paper, I will contact you to get more information. My hope is that several members of our community will get to have their submissions spotlighted in our paper in the foreseeable future. I will continue to run submitted photos as long as I continue to receive them, so please, feel free to begin sending me your shots now! And keep them coming!
Finally, I know that people enjoy giving their opinions about stuff on Facebook, so I am going to create another opportunity for you to do just that. Beginning this week, I am planning on posting a regular “Saturday Commentary” article on the News Journal’s Facebook page. I thought this would be good, because a lot can transpire between Wednesday and Saturday mornings. So, the plan is simply to compose a post of a few paragraphs where I give my thoughts on the happenings between Thursday and Friday of each week. From there, you can agree with what I have to say, disagree, give it a thumbs up, a thumbs down, smiley face, mad face, sad face, whatever. This will just be a way for me to touch base with our readers in between new editions of the paper. If nothing much has happened, then I may not have a whole lot to say. However, if some big games or major announcements take place during that time, I may have a whole lot to say. Either way, I hope you’ll check that out and interact with me on there often. I look forward to everyone’s comments.
Well, that about covers it. To get more information on all of these new additions, turn to page C-4 now. I’ve set everything up to give you an idea about what these features will probably look like each week. I’m excited about all of this, because each idea is for something that will allow you, the reader, to get more involved in this product that we put out each week. This is YOUR paper, so I feel like anything I can do to help make it more about YOU is something that I should at least try to do. With that being said, let’s go ahead and give all of this a shot. Hopefully it all works out and I will be hearing from many of you soon. Be sure to come back next week to find out!