By Stephanie Butzer
Olivia Hubert-Allen, a 2009 Elon graduate, knows social media. As a digital journalist at The Baltimore Sun, she uses social media as more than a resource that lets her talk to friends. She uses it in her reporting.
Social media has become a great tool. It has expanded to not only help people connect with other people, but how to enhance and better reporting. However, it does not report traditional reporting.
“You still have to make the phone calls, get on the street, talk to people, build your network, build sources up,” Hubert-Allen said.
Social media has become a great way to monitor the community. It can also be helpful when somebody is looking for a person who has not left a public paper trail. Social media helps reveal connections and backgrounds.
“You really are given this window into people lives that we’ve never had before. As far as reporting, we have more access to a lot people’s lives than we’ve ever had before, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.”
Hubert-Allen described a scenario when social media helped a reporter at The Baltimore Sun where a man had posted a video on Twitter of him and his friends beating up a drunken man on St. Patrick’s Day. The reporter wanted to find the people in the video and did research.
The reporter found a Twitter handle that bragged he had assaulted the man. Soon after, the Twitter handle was removed, most likely because the man didn’t want to leave a trail. However, somebody had taken a screen shot.
The reporter got the screen capture and searched for people who had talked back and forth with the owner of the deleted Twitter handle. Eventually, this led the reporter to find the man on Facebook and police gathered enough evidence to question him about the incident.
“Now can these things be manipulated?” Hubert-Allen said. “Yes. You always have to be skeptical when looking at anything.”
However, social media has many perks. Social media relationships can help lead to jobs, internships or people who may be of help to another person.
“You need to build these relationships early, talking back and forth with people, build trust, build sources,” Hubert-Allen said.
People should not network just for the thrill of networking, though, Hubert-Allen said. She urged the students to build actual relationships. These people can give a student legs when they graduate and are searching for the next milestone in their life.