News Agencies and Social Media: A Relationship with a Future?
Christoph Griessner, a journalist at APA (the Austrian Press Agency) has written an insightful analysis of what small news agencies can do to take advantage of social media.
In his paper, 'News Agencies and Social Media: A Relationship with a Future?', Christoph first offers an in-depth literature review of recent studies on journalism and social media, and then focuses on an analysis of five news agencies drawing on interviews with some of their editors and media experts.
He examines global players like Associated Press and AFP as key indicators of what news agencies are capable of in this new environment as their market position and financial situation make it a lot easier for them to explore this field. Then he looks at three smaller European agencies: CTK from the Czech Republic, STT from Finland and TT from Sweden. As all of them are most active on Facebook and Twitter, so his analysis focuses on these two platforms.
Among his many conclusions is that news agencies and their journalists use social media first and foremost as a means of newsgathering. A second very important aspect is to build networks with people on the ground, experts and even their customers. Not only can their knowledge be utilized, but also new audiences and clients can be reached, although each of the reviewed agencies has a very different approach to this.
Christoph argues that distribution – especially for smaller agencies with a business-to-business model – is probably the trickiest part right now. Without a proper news website of their own, it is a very difficult task to create a model for social media that enables them to distribute news there without affronting their customers.
Christoph concludes that 'all interviewees agreed that social media is something they have to adopt in one or the other form – although the intensity of use can vary to a great extent. But whether it is with specialized channels for a niche audience, presentations of new services for clients or just to build up networks – news agencies will definitely play a role when it comes to news distribution in the digital and social environment'.