But First, Let Me Post an Update

by - March 03, 2016

My least favorite part of this job is the internet. It's this living, breathing thing that you can't let out of your sight for more than a few minutes at a time. What many of you see as an entertaining portion of your day, I see as a job. From posting new content to updating old stories and moderating comments, it's a never-ending task to keep the WTVY website and our social media sites up and running.

When you work in this business, you hear the phrase "feed the beast" a lot. It used to refer to finding content to fill your shows. Now, I consider our website, Facebook and Twitter the beast. It's always hungry and can have a particularly nasty bite.

More and more people are active online every day. According to Leverage, there are 1 billion active Facebook users sharing 2.5 billion pieces of content every day. Twitter's 560 million active users send 5,700 tweets per second. We use social media to get new information to our viewers quickly.

Society has gotten used to having instant access to information. In fact, you guys expect that instant gratification. Many of you carry smart phones, tablets and/or laptops everywhere to stay linked to the world. You get email on your phone and are constantly updating your Facebook status or sending a new tweet. The media is expected to have that same 24/7/365 connection.

That's why when we have breaking news that isn't close to show time, we update our social media pages first, then the website and finally we add the story into our shows. Back when I first started five years ago, the order was reversed. In fact, our Facebook page was barely a year old and I don't think we even had Twitter yet. In the past five years, I've watched our online presence grow.

We get a lot of clicks on wtvy.com. However, comments aren't plentiful. We're lucky if we get one or two per story on a good day. Our Twitter page is still a work in progress, mainly because we had to recreate our account and lost thousands of followers.We're now up to 1,887 followers, but that's a number we're continuing to grow.

Our Facebook page, on the other hand, is a beehive of activity 24 hours a day. Some days, the activity is limited to likes. Other days it's comments galore. On the worst days, our fans attack one another, use profanity, are vulgar and seem to forget their decency altogether. That's when I, or someone else in the newsroom, steps in and has to delete comments and in some instances entire threads.

There is no situation in which I or anyone else can post something to one of our sites and then just leave it. We must revisit every post dozens of times a day to make sure people are behaving. Therein lies my dislike for the internet when it comes to news - it turns me and the rest of my team into babysitters. And that's a profession I gave up after high school.

Originally posted on my now-defunct professional blog, Lessons From the Newsroom.

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  1. Hi, Ashton!

    I don't envy you. Social media wasn't even a gleam in its father's eye back in the horse and buggy days when I was a producer. (My first station was on the edge of the Amish community - hence "horse and buggy days." :) We had coal burning cameras and viewers needed to wait until 5, 6 or 11 to get their news, unless they happened to catch the live anchor teases during commercial breaks leading up to newscasts. Those break-ins were the equivalent of FB updates and Twitter tweets back then. Today you need to deal with the newscast itself, the on-cam headline teases and those pesky postings on Facebook and Twitter. The worst part is having to take time to moderate the comments to eliminate flaming and nonsensical remarks. I wouldn't want to be required to juggle all that on a regular basis. I applaud you for being able to do it.

    I know you are busy, but if you could spare a minute or two between now and Saturday at 10 pm eastern time when the polls close, I would appreciate it if you would swing by SDMM and exercise your right to vote in my latest Version Sacrifice.

    Thank you, Ashton!