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HOW SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTS TRADITIONAL JOURNALISM

Vusala Hasratli

Most of them name Facebook as the mostly used social network in their countries. 

“Unfortunately, Facebook is becoming place for gossiping. Rarely intellectual topics are discussed by people,” says Natig Javadli, reporter of “Bizim Yol” (Our Road) newspaper in Azerbaijan.

Despite that he uses only Facebook. “I used Twitter for short period, but I couldn’t adapt to it. It felt like there was lack of information.  I’m more used to Facebook,” says Javadli. 

Natig Javadli uses Facebook to learn people’s reaction toward different events. He thinks journalists should use social media while working. Though, Javadli stresses out that journalists should consider some rules while gathering information via social media. “At first, journalists always should recheck information with the source.” 

Javadli says sometimes economist, politician or sociologist share information regarding their profession. If journalists want to use information, they should get permission from the source. Also there is a chance that experts will comment widely or provide more details about news.

Gunel Abilova, editor of “Qafqazinfo” news website in Azerbaijan, says that observing events in Facebook is one of their main tasks at the editorial office. 

She says journalists should be careful and accurate, because there were cases when they published the news from Facebook, which appeared to be false. “In that case we apologize and say that information wasn’t true or we update it,” adds Abilova.

Media expert from Armenia Samvel Martirosyan uses social media for certain purposes: to hunt for the story ideas, to learn people’s opinion about questions raised in the article and to get feedback after publishing. He mentions that social media is much more operative. “How many face to face interviews you can do in 3 hours? And how many posts about the same question you can find in twitter in 10 minutes?” asks Martirosyan.

Depending on information he uses different social media platforms. “If I write an article about elections in Armenia, I gather information from twitter about violations.” 

Samvel Martirosyan thinks that journalists should use social media but by applying professionalism and checking the information. “Otherwise journalist will get problems and can spread misinformation.”

Political and Social issues reporter of “Civilnet.am” Nvard Hovhannisyan uses social media very often while preparing materials. She thinks social media should be starting point of the research for journalists and story cannot consist of information just obtained from social media. And she says that it is the easiest and cheapest way to contact people.

Tazo Kupreishvili is a news reporter at Tabula TV in Georgia. He also uses social media while researching the topic. Though, he always tries to check information with other sources. 

“If I have information about ongoing events in somewhere, I check local, trusted online media outlets. If I have breaking news, I call embassies and government officials. If I am not able to verify, I just write that this information is from social networks and we are unable to check it with the other sources at the moment.” 

He says that unchecked information could make challenge for them. “One journalist from Tabula TV posted on our web page that an activist died in Kiev during clashes with the police. She found this information on Twitter and she didn’t check with other sources. We discovered that it wasn’t true and later we unpublished the story.”

Salome Tsetskhladze is a journalist at the Studio Monitor. For her social media is a source for gathering information and contacts. “I have a lot of friends on Facebook. Sometimes they write some information which is interesting for me. Then I try to recheck it and find some documents.” 

Salome thinks that social media impacts her work in a positive way. “Once, someone wrote on Facebook that employees of government have taken high bonuses. Then I officially requested public information and found out that they took high bonuses even twice a month. Then I wrote an article on the topic.”

Salome thinks that social media is a source of information, which always needs to be checked and verified.