Washington Post makes social media training mandatory for reporters

Reporters and editors on the Post’s Metro staff will start to receive mandatory social media training, the Post’s ombudsman reports. He writes:

Twitter and Facebook are like personal wire services that filter the constant flow of information across the Web. *

“Social media are not really optional anymore,” says (Vernon Loeb, Post Local editorwho instated the policy). “You can’t do your job without them. Social media are where news often breaks first. They’re a great way to cultivate sources, track events, find experts, and to drive audiences to our journalism… You can’t be a good reporter unless you are involved in the social media realm.

* I would edit this statement:

Slight adjustment: #Twitter and Facebook don’t filter. You filter through these services by choosing which people to follow. #socmedialess than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Almost on the side, Post home design writer Jura Koncius rebuffs columnist Gene Weingarten, who caused a bit of a stir with a recent column.

“You are your own public relations person” in journalism today, Koncius tells ombud Patrick Pexton. The 56-year-old uses her Twitter feed to connect to her niche audience.

The Twitter feed of Washington Post reporter and blogger Ezra Klein.

Interestingly, Pexton cautions that spending too much time on social media could lead to a “diminution of quality.” The example he cites, however, doesn’t address social media but rather an increased focus on traffic stats and online hits. Using social media, in my opinion, can only improve reporting because it opens up a broader conversation with readers and sources.

As opposed to a stronger focus on the “titillating or trivial” to catch web traffic, this connection can embolden reporters to write enterprising stories because they know they will find an audience – they already have one.

Of course, you can criticize that something such as “mandatory social media training” is even necessary for today’s journalists.

@elanazak Why? What “training” do you need? Just use the damn products. Boom. You’re good at it.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Here’s what I think: Of course every journalist should know how to use social media. However, some are either still reluctant, or aren’t sure how to get the most out of it, how to cut through the noise.

Mandating trainings is the extra nudge some people need. It also sends a strong message to those reporters who are already actively using social media that their initiative and commitment is encouraged and supported by newsroom leaders.