Local editor explains social media values


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

Small community makes big donations for America’s pastime

The inaugural Summer Jam on Aug. 2 drew hundreds of people to the Lascassas Ball Field in Lascassas, Tenn. in an effort to save the baseball and softball fields from being closed down.IMG_2071

The event offered live music, giant inflatable toys, a silent auction, a cake walk and a pitch speed contest. The entry fee was based on donations alone and for a donation of $25 or more participants received a shirt upon entry. All of the proceeds went toward bringing the old lighting systems at the park up to Rutherford County code.

“These lights were put up back in the sixties; we got a lot of poles that are starting to lean. When they were put up the codes were different,” said Wayne Wood, president of Lascassas Baseball Club.

A complaint was filed earlier this year that triggered the State Fire Marshall’s to inspect the lighting systems. Violations with the electrical wiring, use of guide wires and general disrepair were documented. The baseball club was given nine months to complete the upgrade before they would be facing a potential closure.

 “We’re such a small town, we don’t have a downtown or anything other than a few churches and the elementary school, so this is the heart of our community,” said Deborah McLaughlin, a Lascassas baseball mom.

IMG_2099The residents of Lascassas and surrounding areas came out in a big way to show their support. More than $20,000 of a potentially $60,000 renovation bill was raised  from donations at the Summer Jam. The Lascassas and Milton Lions Clubs and Lascassas Volunteer Fire Department were the primary sponsors. Additional help came from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department and local businesses donating items for the silent auction.

These are the only baseball fields in the town and each year about 200 children play on the fields in spring and fall. The Lascassas Baseball Club is an independent operation and usually uses entry fees and concessions to pay for utilities, field maintenance and other costs.

If Summer Jam gets picked up as an annual event, it plans to remain as a community fundraiser and use donations for various community-oriented causes.