Excellence in Journalistic Use
of Social Media Through the Eyes
of Social Media Editors
David A. Craig &
Gaylord College, University of Oklahoma
Purpose & Contribution
• Purpose is to explore what constitutes
excellence in journalistic use of social media.
• The study contributes to the understanding of
excellence and ethical challenges in social
media at a time when best practices are not a
Reviewed Areas of Literature
• Meaning of Excellence in Journalism
• Role of Social Media in Journalism
• Ethical Issues and Challenges in Journalistic
Use of Social Media
• MacIntyre’s Theory of a Practice
Alasdair MacIntyre’s theory of a practice explains how
standards of excellence in a field advance as the
practitioners pursue excellence.
According to MacIntyre (2007):
• A practice is a social venture.
• Excellence depends on standards rooted in best traditions
of a practice.
• Pursuing excellence leads to distinctive achievements, or
internal goods, and reshapes the meaning of excellence.
• Excellence requires virtues.
• External goods (e.g. profit or status) threaten the process.
RQ & Method
RQ: How do social media editors
understand the meaning of excellence in
journalistic use of social media?
Interviews with social media editors. The
authors interviewed seven editors.
Interviews of two others were collected from
Social media editors interviewed
• Eric Carvin, AP
• Chris Hamilton, BBC
• Matthew Keys, Reuters
• Craig Kanalley, The Huffington Post
• Lauren McCullough, breakingnews.com
• Meghan Peters, Mashable
• Daniel Victor, The New York Times
Journalists interviewed by others
• Liz Heron, The Wall Street Journal
• Andy Carvin, NPR
5 elements of excellence:
• Adherence to traditional accuracy standards
with recognition of a new environment
• Sophistication in verification practices
• Sophistication in engagement
• Tailoring use of social platforms
• Adding value by being human (in use of
tools and in transparency)
Traditional accuracy standards
recognizing new environment
• Commitment to accuracy and verification
• Varying levels of comfort with “process journalism” (Jarvis)
Daniel Victor, New York Times:
Showing the "sausage making" of journalism is sometimes
valuable, sometimes not.
Sophistication in verification
• Multifaceted set of practices
• Use journalistic judgment – e.g., evaluating Twitter
accounts, history, retweets
• Combine with technological tools – "forensic side"
(Hamilton of BBC)
Sophistication in engagement
• Beyond engagement for its own sake.
• Building communities by connecting in a way that is
valuable to the community.
• Drawing users into the reporting process.
• Long-term commitment.
Kanalley, The Huffington Post:
"It's over a long period of time that you build up a
community and you build up engagement."
Tailoring use of platforms
• Consider their strengths and their audiences
• Facebook for conversation, people's stories and
• Twitter for updating, curating, listening
• Monitor development of the audiences and
capabilities of new platforms
Adding value by being human
• Human choices that make the most of platforms'
capabilities – e.g., "hashtag science" on Twitter
(Heron of Wall Street Journal)
• Transparency from individual journalists to admit
mistakes and provide a "looking glass" into what
they do (Keys of Reuters)
• Study provides insight into how journalism as a
practice (MacIntyre) may be developing as
journalists integrate social media into their work.
• Development of verification and engagement
approaches expands capacity for story
development and conversation.
• Pursuing the five elements of excellence
identified can advance "internal goods" such as
inquiry and fostering of community.