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It’s just a fad. Right?

December 19, 2016 - Larry Claypool
I’m waiting...waiting...waiting...OK, it may be a while. But I’ll wait! Really!

Every fad runs its course and eventually dies down, levels off. I’m not really sure that Facebook is going to die out. It is fizzling, a little — losing its luster. We’ll see. Personally, and professionally, I’m not very fond of Facebook now (see below).

Social media is not going away, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of good things out there on social media, for individuals and businesses.

I bring up social media, and Facebook, because it affects my job and the work I do, and other journalists everywhere.

Recently I had a discussion with a Division of Natural Resources representative (I won’t mention which state) and the end of the conversation went really weird for me.

I had contacted this particular DNR office about some information I was seeking for a story — and after I received the answers I needed, I was told any follow-up information would be posted on Facebook. What?

That slapped me in the face! That’s where we have gone? No press release? No formal public notification? Not even a mass email? Just “we’ll post it on Facebook”!

Where has public relations (media relations) gone with our government agencies? It’s gone to Facebook?

Many businesses and organizations have shifted to sending information — and advertising and marketing — toward social media. It’s just a fad. Right? What I’m here to tell you — is anyone listening — is that the information highway can get a little bumpy as we rely on information to land accurately in social medialand. Or do we care — it’s a social thing? Maybe, but people confuse reality with the truth. And that’s a problem!

“If you seen it on the Internet, it must be true.” NOT!

I don’t like to hedge into politics but the recent national race for President of the United States dented the integrity of our mainstream media. And that hurts true journalists. But the garbage that appeared, from all sides, on social media the past two years has been appalling! And this should put any news organization, or any governmental agency, on alert about how information should be distributed.

I actually think most of the state natural resources’ media, communications and PR entities that I deal with (we cover Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) have shifted their attention toward social media. Why? Because it’s easier or less cost effective? I’m not sure.

I’ve talked with one state communications officer about this subject and have read a few notices from others. It appears that posting information on social media saves money and time, as opposed to sending emails.

When one state DNR office announced its new Facebook page and Twitter account 3-4 years ago the coordinator stated, the agency was attempting “to better communicate with our constituents.” And later added, “It’s another avenue of communication, and a very effective one.”

I guess the media now falls under the ‘constituents’ category. Maybe that’s where the problem lies.

I agree the notifications and information passed along by the DNRs on social media is beneficial, but media members should not have to ‘chase down’ story details on Facebook.

The Internet is a great thing (thanks Al Gore) and can be a great tool (yes, I use it all day), but something’s got to break when it comes to getting reliable information to actual media outlets. We shouldn’t have to look through the junk piles of Facebook for information our readers seek and need.

It also doesn’t help that ‘reliable’ news organizations are reporting news from items they’ve seen on Facebook or Twitter.

That, I’m not waiting for!

 
 

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