This year ushered in a new kind of reporting for me.
On Thursdays, I set aside my usual crime and court reporting duties to search for what’s trending on social media that may interest our readers on macon.com.
I’m part of a Telegraph team of real-time reporters looking to broaden our journalism and grow our reach.
Much of what becomes news in our internet-driven world first shows up on Facebook or Twitter.
Sometimes, what a person posts on social media may be the first report to surface about whatever is happening.
When Perry teenager Sam Poss went missing, we first became aware that something was amiss through a Facebook post. His mother had posted that family and friends were gathering to search for him, and I started following their efforts and writing stories about the search.
But not all stories mined from social media are hard news. Often, they’re lighthearted, which is a good break from the death and crime I typically cover.
Like when a tweet about a remake of a classic children’s toy became a story.
Jared Baker of Columbia County tweeted, “My dad made this for when his girlfriend won’t pick a restaurant.” The tweet, which went viral, featured a photo of “The Farmer Says” toy his dad retooled. The remade toy offers restaurant choices from Outback to Bonefish to Applebee’s.
The tweet struck a chord with those who remembered the toy and anyone who has ever had trouble deciding where to eat for dinner.
My favorite real-time story that I’ve produced so far was based on a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Facebook post about an adorable Falcons fan. Seventeen-month-old Wyatt Keaton, is likely still touching hearts on Facebook as the post recirculates.
Another day, a newspaper in another part of the state reported on social media about a Tim Tebow Foundation Night to Shine event for people with special needs. A watchful editor found that the event was also happening in Millegedville, and I got the story.
While I set aside my regular duties for the day to gather such stories, I do not necessarily escape covering crime or courts.
Much of what trends on social media is also crime news. Here’s the headline on a story I put together earlier this month: He escaped an Atlanta prison to sneak back in with liquor, cigars.
Many of these stories run online-only, though some do make it to print. Times certainly have changed since I was a cub reporter back in the ’80s.
But what hasn’t changed is that stories still need to be told, and now we have more ways to find and report them. So, thanks for reading — in print and online.
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