The University of Tennessee College of Communications and Information kicked off its eighth annual Social Media Week Tuesday, Feb. 20 to provide students with opportunities to learn about an increasingly prevalent field.
Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, emphasized the social media’s importance in journalism students’ daily lives during a panel discussion. Social media tips serve as immediate sources about local stories like the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfire.
“Just about as soon as I got into my house, an app called Data Miner blew up on my phone. I opened it up and started looking at these tweets of people shooting video of flames leaping up outside their hotel window in Gatlinburg,” McElroy said.
Editors like McElroy focus on social media like Twitter and Snapchat as critical outlets to gather news, especially breaking news. Social media videos like those of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida become essential to public knowledge.
“The parents will be passing it all around. Things of this type are touching people’s lives and pinning into their network of connections, so social media is tremendously important,” McElroy said.
Social media changes the style of formerly traditional newsrooms. McElroy used the Knoxville News Sentinel as an example.
“We are really more of a digital newsroom,” he said. “If you’re projecting out 10 to 15 years, it’s very hard to picture what kind of traditional news organizations are going to be surviving.”
McElroy took questions from students in attendance. The aspiring journalists asked how social media and news rooms may continue to evolve.
“I’m certainly not going to answer your question of what the future holds, you’re going to answer it. The people in this room are going to invent what that new world tool is.”
UT Social Media Week continues through Thursday, Feb. 22. For more information, click here.
Story by Caroline Jordan
Edited by Lexie Little
Featured Photo: TNJN