Peeking behind the curtain of news operations with social media

Some media organizations use social media to give their audience a peek behind the scenes of the news-gathering process.

For example, using Instagram, a popular photo-sharing app that adds arty filters to iPhone-snapped images, ABC World News shared a glimpse of Diane Sawyer in the cockpit of the “Nightwatch” aircraft during her journey to Afghanistan.

ABC World News

Closer to home, WPTV-Channel 5 in West Palm Beach has a Facebook photo gallery called “Behind the scenes” that lets viewers in on sights they may not normally see during the nightly newscast, like green-screen setups, reporters working at their desks, even a baby deer chewing on a cameraman’s tripod.

Click the image below of WPTV’s Katie LaGrone to see the whole gallery.

WPTV Social Media Journalist Mollie Reynolds is the force behind the TV station’s Behind the scenes gallery and behind their overall audience-engagement strategy.

Mollie Reynolds

Mollie Reynolds

Reynolds says when she started taking and posting “random photos” of things around the newsroom, like anchor Paige Kornblue’s shoes, some co-workers wondered, “Why would anyone care?”

“But then they saw all the comments,” said Reynolds, who manages the TV station’s Facebook page and spends a big part of her day posting items and interacting with the page’s fans.

Reynolds says behind-the-scenes images of anchors work especially well, since they’re already personalities, “but it’s a good way to introduce reporters to people too. I try not to do it all the time because you don’t want to give everything away. I only like to do it if the mood feels right.”

Something new for print journalists

Using social media in this way is a natural fit for a TV station, whose faces already enter the homes of their audiences each night. But I think this strategy can be effective and inviting for newspapers, too.

Palm Beach Post political reporter, blogger and columnist George Bennett recently started his own Facebook Page “to keep up with politicians and other newsmakers who use social media and to share some of my Palm Beach Post articles and blog posts.”

Creating the page was George’s idea. And without any prompting from me (can you tell I’m proud?), he also uploaded a Facebook photo gallery called “At work” that shows glimpses of him on the job over the years.

Often resembling a Secret Service agent in a suit and dark sunglasses, George is caught in the act interviewing Tom Rooney, Mitt Romney, Charlie Crist and others, as well as scrutinizing a disputed punch-card ballot from the 2000 presidential election, posing with a colorfully clad medical-marijuana activist and more.

Because George’s Facebook presence is a professional Page, there are no family photos, high school friends, non-work status updates or anything else typically associated with a personal Facebook Profile.

What do you think of the idea of journalists drawing back the curtain a little and showing themselves in the act of covering the news?

Who are some print media journalists using social media well to connect on a more personal level with readers?


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