Jamie Butow

Monday, Feb 03 2014 02:21 PM

JAMIE BUTOW: Reporting tools change with growth of social media

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    Jamie Butow, Californian community engagement coordinator.

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By Jamie Butow

Way back in the dark-ages of journalism, reporters and editors used to flock to the lobby on the day new phone books arrived. These were super-valuable (and still are in many cases) as we went off to find sources for stories.

When I was in journalism school in the early '90s, my investigative reporting instructor preached the importance of always carrying an old film cannister full of quarters so you could call your story in to the newsroom from a pay phone.

In one class, I even had to use the Haines Criss+Cross directory on a test.

Now online, this directory includes a list of residents and businesses arranged by street and house numbers and by telephone number. So if you had someone's phone number, you could look up their address and vice versa.

I bring all this up to prove that times have changed. A film cannister and a pay phone? I can't even recall the last time I even saw one of those things.

Today when we crowdsource a story, we use social media. Crowdsourcing is simply the practice of asking a question to a group of people to get input and information.

Reporters here have used it with great success. For a story on the effects of valley fever, reporter Rachel Cook asked for people who had it to contact her to tell their stories.

While she spoke with several doctors, they are legally unable to give out the names of patients. Walking up and down the street asking people probably wouldn't yield any results, so she went to social media.

In the old days we would run a reader request in the paper, which we still do on many occasions.

But crowdsourcing on social media is a great way to find a previously unheard voice for a story.

Last week we asked if any locals were going to the Super Bowl. Since there isn't a listing of attendees anywhere, and so many people are on social media, this is an effective way to search for people going to the game.

Look for these posts on Facebook.com/BakersfieldCalifornian and on Twitter@BakersfieldCali.

 

Hashtag-mania

How much more can we say about social media during the Super Bowl that hasn't already been said?

Not much. But here are some Monday morning stats for you, courtesy of AdWeek:

* 38 commercials featured hashtags during Sunday's Super Bowl. This compares to only one in 2011, five in 2012, and 20 in 2013.

Hmm. Sounds like a trend to me.

* Budweiser was the big winner this year with #BestBuds getting more than 59,000 mentions (tweets and retweets) during the game.

Side note: That horse and puppy BFF commercial was produced by Kern County native David Mitchell. Reporter Steven Mayer talked to him last week.

* Bruce Willis being hugged by Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live earned Honda the No. 2 spot with #HugFest earning more than 18,000 mentions.

My favorite comment about that ad came from @BuzzFeed. They tweeted the hug photo with a simple "What is happening here?" line.

* In the No. 3 spot was clearly the most controversial ad. Coca-Cola's "It's Beautiful" ad featured "America The Beautiful" being sung in multiple languages.

#BoycottCoke and another hashtag featuring a certain four-letter word were trending on Twitter Sunday night and Monday morning.

Contrary to popular belief -- as seen on many, MANY social media posts -- "America The Beautiful" is not our national anthem. That's "The Star-Spangled Banner."

You can see the full list posted at Facebook.com/JamieButow2.

 

Social media classes

There are still a few spots left for the social media classes offered through the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Social Media 101 and Social Media for Businesses and Organizations meet for 90 minutes once a week for four weeks.

Get more information and register at bakersfieldcollege.edu/levaninstitute.

 

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Bakersfield.com Network. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, and on Twitter@JamieButow.

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