How to use Facebook in journalism

Facebook has been around since 2004, yet there still are journalists among us who keep the social networking tool at arm’s length, preferring to play with it around friends and family instead of incorporating it into reporting.

However, time and trial have proven that Facebook, in fact, is not limited to extending one’s ego trip; it also can extend journalists’ reach, their audience and consequently their effectiveness. In an age when having an online “brand” is essential, this burgeoning news site, perhaps more than any social tool available, builds and bolsters that brand and may soon be for journalists what TV and newspapers once were: one of the best places to publish timely information.

That means you should learn now about Facebook as a tool for journalism, instead of waiting much longer. At the least, a professional presence on Facebook could help forge contacts with other journalists on story ideas — or, for that matter,  job hunting.

At least three places online offer good information about Facebook’s advantages for journalists and how to get started using them. One is a post on the site Mashable from earlier this summer. Another is at the Nieman Journalism Lab. A third, called “Facebook Journalism 101,” resides on the document-sharing site Scribd. Some information among the three is duplicated, but all offer different tips and perspectives on getting the best out of Facebook for professional purposes.

Read these sources now. In this digitally driven society of ours, tomorrow is already too late.

David Sheets is a sports content editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and, and president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, or on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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