How does one of the most powerful news organizations on the planet use social media? According to Nightly News Web producer Cynthia Joyce, NBC has four primary goals:
1. To source material
2. To find sources
3. To share more of a story
4. To enhance existing products
Joyce used the Haiti earthquake as an example. Before any NBC crews were on location, Joyce turned to social media, looking for information that could be published right away.
On Twitter, Joyce found a user named Jean Pierre.
“In one tweet, he described how the wall of an orphanage had fallen down,” Joyce said. “I went to his page, DM’d him and asked if there was a way we could talk.”
Jean Pierre’s story was so compelling that MSNBC ended up embedding a crew with him at the orphanage and ultimately created haitiamputees.msnbc.msn.com.
Another story that “bubbled up through social media” gave NBC a unique angle on the Tuscaloosa tornado disaster.
“By tracking social media, we were able to show how the storms turned sports enemies into allies,” said Joyce. “Once the story aired, we pushed from the story to the group’s Facebook page.”
According to Joyce, social media is allowing even huge organizations to develop much more personal relationships with the audience. For example, she pointed to a live chat with reporter Anne Thompson, in which about two dozen people got a chance to “talk” one-on-one with Thompson through Cover It Live.
“My main message — when it comes to new media — everybody is behind,” Joyce said, “and everybody has an equal chance of getting caught up.
But Joyce also warns against reporting that stops with the stories found on social media.
“It’s easy to let the information wash all over you. As a reporter, your job is to push forward and look for more.”