Robert Hernandez is a web-based journalist who says his whole professional career has been “nerding out in the name of journalism.”
The assistant professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism spoke at Monday’s KipCamp, a short-term fellowship designed to help journalists make better use of online tools.
Although technology trends shift with society, journalism will survive, he said. “Journalism will outlive Facebook.”
Hernandez outlined his five rules of engagement in social media.
Rule 1: Journalism first, technology second.
Journalists’ primary job is to collect information, distribute it and inform their community.
“If you believe content is king, like I do, it’s not about the device, it’s about the content — but the content optimized for the user of the device.
“You’re a lazy journalist if you only rely on social media. You’re a lazy journalist if you don’t use it,” he said.
Rule 2: If your mom tweets that she loves you, check it out.
Social media has created a huge increase of information and voices; you have to fact check before sharing the information. Passing on inaccurate information through social media tools is easy, especially when Twitter allows you to Retweet with just one click. Confirm information before risking your credibility.
Rule 3: Social media does not replace the phone or in-person interviews,
An active journalist must not rely solely on social media: Phone and in-person interviews provide much greater insight into your subject.
At the same time, an active journalist also must use social media. Ignoring the advantages that come from these tools can hinder your story from reaching the optimal audience.
Rule 4: Citizen, Brand, Journalist.
Your brand is your credibility. It is important to recognize that the stories you write and information you share are your brand — who you are — and what you will be known for as a journalist. Account for both sides to ensure credibility and objectivity.
Rule 5: Be open.
New social media outlets are being developed regularly. Though they may seem inapplicable in the field of journalism, reporters must be open to trying them and acknowledge possible benefits. Being open to new possibilities will turn the possibilities into opportunities.
“Don’t dismiss things you don’t understand. Embrace the change . . . and hijack it in the name of journalism,” Hernandez said.
More about Robert Hernandez on Twitter: @webjournalist.
See a video that Robert Hernandez showed at KipCamp: