Social Journalism: What is It and Why is It Important?

By Yahaira Hernandez

The definition of “social journalism” varies among professionals in the industry. Some say the focus is on using user-generated content to help make an impact in communities. Others describe it as a re-imagined version of traditional journalism with reporters using social media to make stories more relatable. I’ve come to realize, it’s a combination of both.

Like traditional journalism, “social journalism” is about informing the community about an issue, using tools (like social media) to listen to the community and discover their reaction to the story and help meet the needs of the community. Social journalists basically focus on collaborating with the community for maximum impact. It’s a thorough process that brings up questions like:

  • Who are the people I need to interview?
  • When is the best time to publish this story?
  • How many people did this story reach?
  • Was the problem solved?

As public relations and social media experts, we know how important it is to connect with an audience and deliver important stories to communities. And as members of a community, we can appreciate the time and effort social journalists dedicate to building a relationship with us and working tirelessly to provide answers to our questions, solve problems, etc.

It’s important to understand what this type of journalism is and how we can get involved to help serve our community. Start following news stories in your community, participate in news polls on social media and voice your concerns. You never know when you might just trigger or at least help build a powerful news story.