Working in TV News has taken a dramatic change with the Internet.
No longer are people working at a TV station, just doing stuff for on air. They are also working on the station's website and posting to social media.
WAFB's (Baton Rouge) 9 News This Morning co-host Matt Williams is not merely a journalist. He is a one-man marketing department promoting both the Matt Williams brand and WAFB.
"It's so different from in the past," says Williams, who got into local TV news in the mid-1990s, when the Internet was in its infancy and social media was nonexistent. "If someone showed up from the year 2000, they wouldn't know what to make of it."
"Some years ago, people would do a story for air, and then they would post it to the website," says WBRZ-TV news director Chuck Bark. "That's no longer good enough. Now they should be posting a story about what they're going to do, then updating it as they're covering it, and then doing something about it after it's over."
"Once upon a time we could sit on a story all day long and not talk about it until it was on the air that evening," says veteran WAFB anchor Donna Britt. "Now we're posting about it all day long. It's all very fluid."
Social media has created that fluidity. News is disseminated by reporters, anchors and producers on Facebook or Twitter. In return, those broadcast journalists rely on social media to find out about what's happening at the macro level through the man on the street. It's a mutual engagement, a conversation. Social media sites also serve as a very powerful marketing and branding tool that, more than anything, engages viewers and drives them all day long back to a station's website.
It's a change that has affected all employees of local news departments, not just the high-profile anchors. Teleprompter operators now post sports scores to Facebook between newscasts. Receptionists put recipes on the station's Internet homepage in their downtime. Reporters in the field take pictures on their iPhones and tweet updates all day about the stories they're covering. Everyone is constantly "on."
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