How Social Media Impacted the Pulitzers
By Jaideep Shergill, CEO, Hanmer MSL, MSLGROUP India
The Pulitzer Prizes announced on April 17, 2012, were a landmark not just for the exceptional journalism they recognised. This year, several winners were chosen for their writing/visuals as well as their use of social media and multimedia.
Last November, the Pulitzer committee took a digital leap, announcing that applications could only be submitted online and all news packages would be reviewed digitally for the first time ever. Consequently, the prizes this year reflect the rising role of social media and the internet in news coverage.
Not surprisingly then, online news sites The Huffington Post (for ‘National Reporting’) and Politico (for ‘Editorial Cartooning’) were recognised for their content. “Social media appeared in several categories, especially in breaking news,” Sig Gissler, Pulitzer Prize administrator, told Mashable. “One of the factors considered was real-time reporting in early phases of events.”
Technology has forced change upon all major news providers over the decades; social media has provided only the latest inflection point. Powered by this change, the news cycle has become 24×7 and is available on new platforms.
So, how exactly are news organisations adapting to this new reality?
Here are a few things that come to mind:
News gathering: Digital technology enables journalists to gather more, and often better, content. Suddenly, they have access to ideas and voices that are wider in variety than ever before. Social media has also revolutionised the way news is broken and the speed at which it spreads. Reports of the raid that led to Osama Bin Laden’s death, for instance, first broke on Twitter and spread on social networks. Adjusting to this reality of fast-moving news is a challenge, not just for journalists but also for us in the communications business. For instance, Hanmer MSL’s social media team recently managed India’s first Tweet-cast of a live surgery. This was hugely effective and showed how new tools can be used to disseminate news. Look out for an upcoming post on this landmark event.
New sources: Social media has turned everyone into a potential source. Not only has social media made it easier for individuals to publish content themselves, it has enabled us to understand the implications of events as they happen.
Engagement: Social media is changing how we converse with our audiences. There is a point of view that, today, “anybody’s story becomes everybody’s story once it’s published”. News organisations and communications firms need to be part of the debate. Winning trust online is critical, and conversations on Facebook and Twitter could lay the foundation of that trust. Leading the conversation, rather than breaking a story, is critical.
New platforms: Different tools for different audiences? Possibly. Journalists are looking to get their stories out there – through newspapers, TV, the internet, the mobile, etc. Different platforms allow them to engage different audiences. For instance, social media is more effective with the younger audience.
Curation: The need for robust verification has only intensified as information travels at the speed of light and news organisations try to publish in real time. Journalists need to be extra careful about who they’re sourcing from.
It’s fascinating to watch from the sidelines as journalism evolves and journalists transform. I believe that these changes will only enhance the partnerships that exist between communications professionals and the media.
Now, excuse me while I trawl through Twitter for the latest news.
Jaideep Shergill is responsible for developing various successful communication programs to a foray of clients and is spearheading the expansion of Hanmer MSL’s expertise in specialty communications services areas, including digital media. Connect with him on LinkedIn or email him at email@example.com.