Social media journalism Q&A top takeaways

News Associates hosted four social media journalists to share their views and advice on working in social media. They discussed how to get your first role, how to network and what opportunities social media presents.

Here News Associates trainee Harrison Newsham shares what he learnt from our panellists. 

We heard from MTV Movies social producer Claire Rowden, The News Movement correspondent Neha Gohil, Sportsbeat social media executive Stefan Frost, and VICE senior social producer Helen Thomas. (Job roles at the time of the workshop in October 2023.)

Neha, Stefan, and Helen each completed their NCTJ training with News Associates.

The panel explored the diverse ways social media is used to tell stories quickly and succinctly.

One of the main takeaways from the evening was that social media requires journalists to think differently about their content. The panellists recommended that anyone who wants to get into social media journalism be consistent and creative with their posts.

It is important to hook in social media users within the first few seconds of a video.

Stefan said: “You need to have an eye for the spectacular, the sort of stuff that goes viral.”

He recommended keeping up to date with current trends to know what is likely to do well.

Stefan continued: “What you’re trying to do on social media is make it pop and you’re constantly looking for new ways to make something that could just be fine, actually do a lot better and capture the attention.”

In this time of media transition, the panellists explained how it is important to prepare ahead of interviewing, especially as social media clips are short form and content has to be snappy.

Claire said she does lots of research before press junket interviews (see video below) to ensure she knows how best to get their personalities across.

She said: “I’m someone that gets very anxious before interviews, so I like to watch previous interviews to see what these people are like. This way I make sure that I’m not asking questions that they might have been asked lots beforehand.”

Neha explained the importance of building rapport with interviewees.

She said: “I think the conversation you have with those individuals before an interview takes place is almost as important as the interview.

“And I always like to think of it as if I was in their shoes, how would I want someone to approach me?”

For her, a journalist must be fully attentive to an interviewee and make eye contact with them to make them feel listened to, especially if they are sharing something for the first time.

Many of the panellists said working in social media forced them to become more confident in front of a camera. They noted how working in social media directly exposes journalists to negative feedback more so than more traditional media.

Helen said: “I really like presenting actually, I really enjoy it, but I hate seeing videos of myself.

“I think on TikTok, it’s kind of a weird thing because the angles are so strange. The camera is so close to your face.

“It’s proven to be quite bad for your mental health.”

Similarly, Neha initially found being on camera uncomfortable and growing up thought she’d end up in newspapers, before she had the opportunity to do video journalism.

Neha said: “I feel as though the more skills you can develop as early on in your career as possible, that it will reap the rewards in the future.”

She believes social media skills put young people at an advantage over those who are longer established in an industry that is continuously adapting to the preferences of its readership.

Neha continued: “If you’re worried and scared like me about delving into that part of the industry then please just take the leap because I think it’s so worthwhile.”

To find out more about our NCTJ multimedia journalism courses, click here.

To sign up to our free journalism workshops, click here.