Recognizing the changing landscape of how people communicate and receive information, journalists and news organizations have changed the way they investigate, source and tell the news. One such reporter is Paul Lewis, the west coast bureau chief for The Guardian. He is active on Twitter, Vine and Instagram and uses social media to find sources for his stories.
In his 2011 TEDx Talk, Lewis touts the power of citizen journalism and encourages journalists to embrace crowd sourcing information: “accept that you can’t know everything and allow other people through technology be your eyes and ears.” Social media allows the general public to co-produce the news, he continues, and journalists should welcome this collaborative approach to storytelling. He then outlines how he used Twitter to uncover information in two murder cases: the mysterious death of Angolan refugee, Jimmy Mubenga, on British airways Flight 77, and the death of Ian Tomlinson at the g20 protests in London. Witnesses from across the globe spoke up through social media to tell their side of the story and provide photographs, audio and video to help Lewis write his story. See the full TEDx Talk below.
Though his TEDx Talk was recorded in 2011, Lewis continues to use social media in similar ways today. Since he is a bureau chief, he posts on a variety of topics, some stories of his own, some stories from other Guardian reporters, some stories from other publications, and also personal commentary and live tweeting of events. Most of his posts are regarding politics, technology, and world news.
For example, during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown, Lewis used Vine to show short videos of the protests happening there. In the caption, he added a link to the full version of the video that could be found on theguardian.com.
More recently, though, he has been covering the 2016 presidential campaign. He live tweets (and admits to typos) and asks questions of his followers:
He also posts pictures and short videos directly to Twitter to give his followers a feel for the atmosphere he is experiencing:
He retweets stories that mention him and also some that don’t. In the below story, Lewis went hunting with Donald Trump’s sons:
Before he ran the story above, he posted a teaser on Instagram. Although he doesn’t have a large following on Instagram, it still elicited a response from one of his followers. Maybe he will soon start utilizing this medium more often.
Lewis’ tweets regarding the 2016 presidential race aren’t falling on deaf ears. The Pew Research Center discovered that social media is the preferred method of learning political news for Millennials. The research shows that in the 2016 presidential campaign, “about a third (35%) of 18 to 29-year-olds name a social networking site as their most helpful source type for learning about the presidential election in the past week. This is about twice that of the next nearest type – news websites and apps (18%), another digital stream of information.” Below is a break down by age of how individuals are learning of the 2016 presidential race:
Paul Lewis demonstrates the power and influence social media can have on the news and even on justice. He recognizes that the public is a wonderful source of information and uses social media to gather content for his stories. Additionally, he uses social media to interact with his audience in real time, live-tweeting quotes, facts, and commentary along with images and videos to give his followers a more comprehensive understanding of his stories.