What journalists should realize about social media: A poem, of sorts

By | April 26, 2016

What is social media?

What is social media?

It’s a billboard
a live broadcast channel
an archive
and a library.

It’s also a conversation. Unscripted and unpredictable.

A customer service feedback line
and a crowd-sourcing tool.

It’s a polling center
a debate arena
an angry mob
and an echo chamber.

Social media is a snark machine.

It offers publishing tools for anyone
citizen journalist
accidental journalist
professional journalist.

It favors emotion over reason.

It is an instrument of activism
and a weapon of harassment.

It is a rallying cry
and a community organizer.

A branding agent
and a reputation builder.

It is a relationship manager
and a public shaming device.

Social media is
an audience engagement opportunity
and a collaboration platform.

Powerful in reach
yet limiting in form.

Because of social media
we can have common conversations
on a massive scale.

The sense of empowerment
that social media generates
intensifies the news cycle.

Love or hate social media
it’s not going away.

Social shares help us
measure impact
of our works of journalism.

Smart journalists recognize
social media’s limitations
and its possibilities.

It is our challenge
to get our messages heard
in a digital landscape
of unlimited content

yet limited time
and attention.

This poem, of sorts, was written for the 50th anniversary of the University of Connecticut Journalism Department and presented during a panel discussion about the future of journalism at UConn’s Konover Auditorium in Storrs, Connecticut on April 16, 2016.

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