We're getting beyond the point where it is acceptable for journalists and newspapers to sit on the side and just dip their legs into the icy public pool that is social media. Finally, we're starting to see publications fully embrace it, and not simply as a kitschy gimmick to prove to readers that they're down with the times.
Peter Horrocks took over last week as the new director of BBC Global News and he's determined to change things. From The Guardian's PDA Digital Content Blog:
"This isn't just a kind of fad from someone who's an enthusiast of technology. I'm afraid you're not doing your job if you can't do those things. It's not discretionary", he is quoted as saying in the BBC in-house weekly Ariel. [...]
"If you don't like it, if you think that level of change or that different way of working isn't right for me, then go and do something else, because it's going to happen. You're not going to be able to stop it."
Exactly. Check out the entire post and full Q&A for a bit more.
It's time for newspapers—and sports sections in particular—to adopt a similar approach. This isn't simply about the ability to report either, especially in sports. As much as any subject, readers look to build some kind of connection with the sportswriters they read on a daily basis. Social media has already shown a remarkable ability to foster relationships when used appropriately. For example, if Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley had used Twitter to further explain a backhanded apology to Erik Bedard, it's possible I'd see where he was coming from. Probably not, but the possibility exists.
Social media is something journalists need to know. And not to simply use for the sake of using, but learn and take advantage of. The more newspapers adopt such a strict policy, the better.