Social media drive online traffic for CBS 6

Social media are making a huge difference at WTVR CBS 6 (@cbs6).  Scott Wise (@Scott_Wise) director of interactive media, talked to our social media journalism class Tuesday to shed some light on the culture change that is taking place right now at the Richmond station.

By Samra Khawaja (@Samra_Khawaja)

After CBS 6 was purchased by Kentucky-based LocalTV in 2008, interactive media have been pushed heavily into the daily newsroom practices. The company’s mission to report news quickly online helped CBS 6 to set up a structure to increase traffic on its website. By posting news online, it allows the station to use the link to a story and spread it quickly through Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Scott Wise (left) talks to students in the Social Media Journalism class.

Although Wise admits that he often reads headlines but rarely clicks on links to news stories on Twitter himself, he said that his own behavior highlights the importance of eye-catching headlines. Pictures and multimedia also often prove to increase Web traffic, Wise said. In many ways, the ease and portability of reporting of online content sometimes eliminate the need for a news crew to capture a breaking news event. CBS 6 has given iPhones to all of its reporters, so that they can report to all of the social media channels at any time.

For breaking news, Wise said, all social media platforms are utilized. However, one of the hardest things to tackle about social media is changing the culture of a newsroom. Handing out iPhones to reporters is a great step forward, Wise said.

Wise emphasized the importance of confirming information with credible sources before tweeting. He went on to explain that verifying facts is key as stories can become Internet sensations in an instant. Updating information with reliable sources is also crucial, Wise said.

At the end of his visit, Wise offered suggestions for ways to craft compelling story ideas. By humanizing stories and focusing on a specific aspect, Wise said he always likes to know how a story can be different from what we already know. Even though some stories don’t make it on air, there’s no time and space limit online. And the sense of community that social media bring help CBS 6 move forward in this innovative news environment.

Samra Khawaja is a journalism student at VCU’s School of Mass Communication and can be reached at khawajasm@vcu.edu. She tweets under @Samra_Khawaja and can also be found on Facebook.

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