Social networks, Fannie Bussières-McNicoll uses them to the full. In a pandemic, confinement requires, it was through her Facebook account that she launched calls to all.
Hello, I am a journalist for /TurnedNews.com and I am preparing a dossier on… I am looking for testimonials. Please contact me privately.
To take the pulse of public opinion, the journalist must leave the circle of friends-family-colleagues, and
social networks make it possible to reach people who would otherwise be difficult to reachsays Fannie Bussières-McNicoll.
On Facebook, the reporter invites herself into private groups dedicated to a theme or defending a cause.
But some of these groups, wary of mainstream media, are reluctant to welcome journalists into their ranks. This is the case of people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, Fannie Bussières-McNicoll wanted to speak to them, because she had heard that, in the schoolyard, children were playing hunt for the unvaccinated. The journalist was trying to reach parents worried that their child would experience tension because he was not vaccinated.
The administrators of the groups, to whom she had immediately confided that she was a journalist, initially refused to admit her.
Many non-vaccinated people complain that the media ignore them, she explains, so I made them realize that by participating in my article, the parents of non-vaccinated children could, precisely, testify to their reality. It freed things up.
A wealth of topics
Shortage of housing, compulsory vaccination of travelers or screening for COVID-19 at the border: there is no shortage of subjects for which journalists are monitoring in discussion forums. As soon as a situation arises,
bang, bang, bang, the messages are multiplyingsays Fannie Bussières-McNicoll, who even receives messages from Facebook group administrators who warn her that business is going on.
And then there are the comments. Fannie Bussières-McNicoll reads them all. After publishing her text on pregnancy in the time of COVID-19, a woman wishing to adopt a child wrote:
Me, I’m expecting my little baby, he’s in Haiti, and everything’s on ice.
This is how the journalist learned that the entire international adoption network had been put on hold during the pandemic. She reached out to this woman and made a new text that sparked comments from women forced by the pandemic to cut short their journeys to fertility clinics.
Another text, other comments, this time from couples who had preferred to delay their plan to start a family. In the end, she did a series of eight reports in two months!
Gotta do the work
But on social networks, not everything is true. It’s one thing to pick up an idea from it, it’s another thing to turn it into a text or a report.
Gotta do the work, warns Fannie Bussières-McNicoll. Make sure that the subject is of public interest, that the source is authentic and the information true, tell by finding the right word, put in context… The essentials of journalism.
François Messier, who assiduously covers politics, always has the Tweetdeck technology platform open on one of his three screens in the newsroom of radio-canada.ca in Montreal. (Tweetdeck organizes this ocean of content that is Twitter.)
When President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in Haiti, I subscribed in time to say it to about fifty accounts of journalists, elected officials, Haitian senators, he describes. Is he reading about someone interesting in The world where the washington post? He searches for it on Twitter.
In addition to being subscribed to a few thousand Twitter accounts, François Messier has his back with Dataminr. This tool, which is not a social network strictly speaking, opens up the prospect: if information springs up in a sector that he has previously identified, this web editor will be alerted.
At the end of January 2022, Émilie Dubreuil travels to Ottawa with a photographer. Its mandate: to cover for TV, radio and the web the beginnings of the demonstration of people who, among other reasons, opposed the compulsory vaccination of truckers against COVID-19.
Before leaving, she did
what all journalists do : Follow the Twitter and Facebook accounts of crucial people and organizations, such as the Ottawa Police Service.
As for her own Facebook account, it is practically only used to distribute the texts of which she is the author, like a kind of newsletter. Her Facebook friends are over 3,000 and, no, she doesn’t know them all personally.
” If I don’t put a text on my Facebook page, very few people talk to me about it, see it, read it. On the other hand, if I put it on social networks: poof! »
On these platforms, journalists, like the town criers of yesteryear, trumpet the news and
promote their work, as described by Fannie Bussières-McNicoll, so that it does not die there after the first publication or broadcast.
Being a journalist at /TurnedNews.com is not enough to enjoy a certain visibility?
No, slice Thomas Gerbet, journalist at /TurnedNews.com. There are people who wait on their social network, who only get information on this network. This social network has to bring them the information.
” We are building […] a kind of community. I receive a lot of messages from people who will suggest topics to me. So our presence on social networks leads people to write to us. »
For documentation, Facebook and Twitter are useful:
they take us to different worlds than websitessays Thomas Gerbet.
On Twitter, he makes lists and targets people in particular areas of interest: it allows me to clean up a bit and not have too much
noise. It also uses notification systems to identify interesting publications. Thomas Gerbet occasionally uses Instagram to geotag photos.
But, many pairs of eyes being already on social networks, journalists in search of originality
should perhaps look elsewheresuggests Thomas Gerbet.
Him, to find scoops and primeurs, claims to rely very often on the good old telephone.
Social networks have continued the work previously begun by the Internet to shrink the planet, explains Vincent Grou, whose work as a journalist on social networks did not exist when he started in the profession, at the beginning of the century! Part of the job is to broadcast /TurnedNews.com Information content on various platforms. The public broadcaster’s Facebook page alone has 1,378,078 subscribers.
” Social networks have facilitated contact with the public. I have lost count of the number of times people have written to us, on Facebook, and their stories have come out as news. »
Politicians and other public figures know how closely journalists (and not only them) keep an eye on them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.
The practice of digging into their accounts to see their past statements and photos with controversial people has been made much easier by social mediaadds Vincent Grou.
Finally, nothing beats Twitter for following the unfolding of a story chronologically, sometimes in real time, he says. Its size
continuous yarn lends itself to it.
The danger of scattering
Launched in 2016 and renowned for being popular with teenagers, TikTok boasts of having a billion users.
For the RAD team – /TurnedNews.com’s journalism laboratory – it was obvious that we had to be there.
Back in February, as RAD aired its first clips on TikTok, Russia attacked Ukraine.
RAD and its journalist Nicolas Pham asked on TikTok the question that everyone is asking: are we witnessing the start of the Third World War? Analyst François Brousseau’s response, encapsulated in less than a minute (New window)has been viewed 163,000 times.
To date, RAD has 10,000 followers on TikTok.
It’s another place to get knownexplains Johanne Lapierre, editor-in-chief of RAD
Short content produced by RAD in vertical video format is also published on Instagram and on YouTube Shorts:
We are in the run-in, we see what workssays the editor-in-chief.
On the other hand, RAD has never invested in Twitter,Stone. When we go to a platform, we take care of it, we don’t want to scatter”,”text”:”because our audience is not there, says JohanneLapierre. When we go on a platform, we take care of it, we don’t want to scatter”}}”>because his public is not there, says Johanne Lapierre. When we go on a platform, we take care of it, we don’t want to scatter.
On a social network, content is generated by users. It is their attention that the news media are vying for. Youtubers can sit for hours? They are served documentaries. TikTok followers put audio on what they listen to, but those on Instagram will mostly not turn it on, just watching.
Hence the importance of subtitles in the content put on Instagramexplains Johanne Lapierre.
It is not enough to have information and to fit it there, there and there, she warns. We have to wonder about the best way to do it, according to the codes of the different platforms.