Ithaca Professor Pens Guide to Social Media Journalism

By Dan Verderosa, January 26, 2017

Professor Pens Guide to Social Media Journalism

The rise of social media and mobile devices has changed the ways that journalism is produced and consumed. In his forthcoming book “Mobile and Social Media Journalism: A Practical Guide,” Ithaca College Assistant Professor Anthony Adornato prepares journalists to succeed in the new journalism landscape while avoiding risks like spreading “fake news.”

“Mobile and Social Media Journalism” aims to prepare future journalists to use social media and mobile devices for news gathering, distributing content and engaging with audiences. In doing so, it introduces readers to concepts like building a social media brand, locating credible user-generated content, writing for social media and mobile news, and using analytics platforms to monitor the effectiveness of social media activity.

Adornato says that the public is increasingly getting its news from online platforms like Twitter and Facebook. For journalists to succeed at delivering quality content to the audience, he says they need to gear their reporting towards social media.

“We need to adapt to how the audience is consuming news,” said Adornato. “We need to meet them in the spaces where they’re active.”

Some of the impact of social media has been positive, says Adornato. For example, Twitter allows journalists to quickly crowdsource valuable information from the public, and smartphone-based apps have allowed reporters to become increasingly mobile. They can now gather, produce, and distribute content all from a mobile device. Social media has also connected journalists with readers, bringing the public into the reporting process like never before.

“They are not only consuming news in different ways now, they’re also producers of content,” said Adornato.

However, Adornato cautions that these new dynamics have increased the amount of misinformation, now commonly referred to as “fake news,” that is shared and consumed by the public. Adornato likens social media to the “Wild West of the internet.” His research shows that many television newsrooms lack policies for verifying information from social media, even though they are increasingly dependent on it as a source. “Mobile and Social Media Journalism” teaches aspiring journalists to mediate the dangers of misinformation by applying traditional journalistic values like verification.

The book is structured around a course on the topic Adornato has taught at Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications since 2014. The class will be required for all journalism majors at the school starting in the fall 2017 semester. Adornato says that the book can be useful for other journalism schools that are still attempting to integrate social media into their curriculums.

Several Ithaca College graduates who took Adornato’s course are featured in the book, demonstrating how important mastery of social media and mobile technology can be for finding a job in the field today. One former student, Dylan Lyons ’14, went on to manage social media for the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.” Another, Emily Masters ’16, successfully interviewed for a prestigious Hearst Fellowship in part because of her social media knowledge and experience.

“Mobile and Social Media Journalism” is due out from Sage Publishing in August 2017.