by Dylan Reubenking
LEWISTON, Idaho — Social media has had a profound impact on the journalism world, especially in sports journalism. Breaking sports news hits Twitter before it makes it to the television screen and to print. Highlights of jaw-dropping plays go viral just seconds after they happen.
So how does this outbreak of social media journalism affect local news stations like KLEW News in Lewiston, Idaho? For Sports Director Armen Araradian, social media, especially Twitter, consumes much of his job duties.
“Twitter is basically everything for me,” said Araradian, a 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon. “Without Twitter, I would have a hard time finding stories because there are so many things on Twitter, especially sports-wise, that make it super easy to get stories out of.”
Using mostly Twitter, Araradian finds most of his stories through social media. He contacts players and coaches for stories through direct messaging and shares news from his colleagues daily.
Araradian has been a sports anchor and reporter at KLEW News since 2017. He began his sports broadcasting career with Duck TV at UO, where he was a sports director and producer. Throughout college, he also worked with ESPN, Pac-12 Network, and the UO athletic department.
While working with UO’s athletic department, Araradian began learning how social media journalism works at the professional level. He helped live-tweet score updates and stream press conferences from different UO sports accounts.
“I learned how to cater to Ducks fans,” Araradian said. “That translates to my job now because I didn’t go to Washington State University, but you also have to know how to cater to those fans. I know how to form a tweet to where they will want to see it.”
What news organizations consider “success” and gain profit from today is far different than two decades ago, in large part due to social media. News organizations’ success is measured through engagements on posts such as likes, retweets, and/or shares.
Another aspect of social media journalism that has emerged is the desire to report first, a priority that has sometimes overtaken certain media ethics, most notably accuracy.
“A lot of people just try to get it first, which to me isn’t right,” Araradian said. “Yes, I want to be first too, but I’d rather be the last one to tweet it and it’s right than just getting it first.”
“A tweet is only going to take 30 seconds,” he said. “That 30 seconds can be a lot if it is wrong.”
Araradian takes time to ensure that what he posts on social media is accurate, and he teaches others in KLEW’s sports department to do the same.
“What young journalists need to know with social media is to try to be first, but be first and accurate,” he said. “Being accurate is more important than just getting it out there first.”
With the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality, another dynamic has surfaced in which citizens record what they witness and post it to social media. News stations often request to use it, but Araradian says it is crucial to ensure the authenticity of the video first.
“KLEW will never take a video and air it like the person that filmed it said it happened like it’s facts,” he said. “I think if we get something sent in and we don’t check it, that’s a disservice.”
The news industry rapidly shifts each year because of social media, including how interviews are done, data is found, and stories are distributed and consumed. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center report, about 55% of adults get their news from social media.
Due to this shift to social media news, television news stations and other major companies are innovating to keep their readers’ interests piqued. Some companies, including KLEW, have experimented with streaming live newscasts on social media. News on social media is becoming more convenient by the year, says Araradian.
“I think social media just makes things a lot easier,” he said. “I can’t imagine [in the future] that it won’t just get more useful. Almost every sports reporter I know is DMing an athlete or a coach now to set up an interview. I can only imagine that that’s going to get bigger.”