Journalists Using Facebook to Develop Stories


Here is a Facebook page dedicated to how journalists can and are using social networks to find stories and sources.

I recently wrote a story about a tiny Minnesota TV station that used Facebook to find a story and a mysterious “roadkill” creature then used Facebook to connect with the public in record-setting ways.

The AP among others have used Facebook to produce vivid stories about 9/11 memories.

Some journalists are asking the public to send photos or videos (especially after storms like Hurricane Irene).  Others pose questions to the public while others are looking for interviews, experts and witnesses.

The Facebook + Journalists page reports:

“Tapping into your Facebook community about questions they would like a source to answer is an easy to gauge the interest of your readers on a topic, but also get quality question submissions from a community who may be just as, or more, knowledgeable on the issue you’re covering. Elisabeth Waldon Kool from The Daily News in Greenville, Michigan, posted to their Page asking readers what questions they have for local law enforcement about protecting themselves in light of ongoing local larcenies. Waldon Kool said the question sparked an extensive debate on Facebook that furthered the story. Following the Facebook discussions and her reporting, Waldon Kool wrote the story.




Don’t Do This-Don’t Ask Reporters to Do This

WTTG reporter gets covered in sea foam during Hurricane Irene. The foam is sewage and health experts say it could be toxic.

Reporter tells the station he is getting the foam in his mouth and all over his skin.  Nobody has the sense to tell him to get out of there.

Mediaite explains:

However, on Fox News today, Dr. Marc Siegel warned that human exposure to sea foam could be potentially dangerous.

The sea foam, washed up during Hurricane Irene, is also known as “red tide,” and Siegel explained the effects of exposure.

It can kill birds, it has pollutants in it, it has bacteria in it, it has proteins in it, and prolonged exposure could even cause birth defects. It can bother people with asthma and it can cause skin rashes.

Siegel pointed to bacterial contamination as an immediate danger of exposure to sea foam, and warned people against getting too close to it. 

The 9/11 News Archive

The Internet Archive has compiled an astonishing collection of news from around America and around the world documenting what we saw on television on 9/11/01.

The station include Mexico City TV, Chinese TV, CNN, a Russian station, CBC in Canada, and various network affiliates from around Washington DC.

From just before the attacks throughout the day, the site allows you to explore what journalists reported and when they reported it.



Across the top you will see red flags that show you when events happened during the day.  Look on the video timeline below to see what each network/station was doing on air at that moment.  When you click on individual frames on the time, the frames become interactive and you can watch video of that moment on any channel.



Covering Hurricane Irene

I now have a special section on this website to help journalists who are covering the dangerous Hurricane Irene.

Floods cause even more damage in hurricanes than straight winds.  The government updates flood maps, so there is a good chance people do not know their new flood zone.

As says:

“FEMA has published almost 100,000 individual Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). See your map and learn how to read it so you can make informed decisions about protecting your property, both financially and structurally. ”

Boston Globe Photographer’s Amazing Reflexes

I can’t tell you how difficult this is to pull off. As much as I don’t like the Red Sox to pull a triple play on the Rays, The Boston Globe’s Jim Davis captures all three legs of the play in three closeup frames.

To pull this off, the photojournalist must anticipate action, not just react to it. It is also why you need a top end camera that is firing machine-gun like FPS.

The Running of the Journalists

In my video storytelling workshops, I often teach the idea “when the eye and the ear compete, the eye wins.”  That is to say if you have a distracting background, nobody will pay attention to what you have to say.  Here is a great example of that.  I have no idea what this guy is saying–I just keep thinking “I bet he wishes he could run after the story but he is tethered to this live shot.”


High School Journalists Investigate Real Stories

I  know you get so tired of looking at college journalism stories that cover this event or that one-this light story or that one.

What if you did a class project on something meaningful, some that not only taught journalism, multimedia storytelling and investigative technique but also required teamwork and collaboration.

Here are some examples of such projects, done by HIGH SCHOOL students.

2011: A class project on expired medications at grocery and drug stores

2010: Idling cars, buses damage environment, violate law

2009: Health care headaches

2008: Expired medicine, baby food on Trenton store shelves

2007: Does NYC Transit leave disabled riders in the lurch?

No doubt you have seen other projects that have set inmates free and done big things.  But these are the sort of projects that anybody anywhere could do with limited sources and even limited skill.

The could include all 7 storytelling tools that I teach about:

  • audio
  • video
  • stills
  • text
  • mapping
  • documentclouds
  • data visualization

Commissioner Assaults and Threatens Reporter

WFAA-TV in Dallas reported:

Brett Shipp, an investigative reporter for WFAA-TV (Channel 8), was assaulted by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price during a confrontation Wednesday morning at the commissioner’s road and bridge district office, the station said.

Michael Valentine, vice president of news for the station, said Price put his forearm into Shipp’s throat and pushed him. Price then threatened to “split his throat open,” Valentine said.

Price could not be reached immediately for comment.

Shipp said he was not seriously hurt, according to WFAA.

The encounter took place shortly after 11 a.m. at Price’s road and bridge office at 1506 E. Langdon Road, in southern Dallas near Hutchins. Shipp was working on a continuing story questioning payments the county made to a company owned by Willis Johnson, a friend of Price’s. The company, Wai-Wize, has been paid more than $440,000 in state grant money administered by the county since 2005 for the implementation and maintenance of a satellite communication network.


Watch the video here: