The digital side of work is fun, but social media can be a beast | Opinion


One of the reasons I love working in the newspaper industry is that it gives me the opportunity to embrace both print and digital products.

The printed product, of course, is the traditional newspaper you hold in your hands and read every morning. In the case of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, this is a printed product that has been around since 1893.

So we have a bit of history associated with our product, as columnist and teacher Larry Hypes explained in his well-written column last Saturday which coincided with our first “weekend edition”.

Maintaining this 129-year-old legacy is both a challenge and an honor for those of us who work in the newsroom today.

Of course, things have changed in recent years, thanks in large part to the advent of the internet and the rise of social media. These days it’s not only about providing content for our print product, but also about keeping our website up to date with new stories, photos, slideshows and videos throughout the day, while sharing that content. on social media forums such as Facebook. and Twitter. And if the story is big enough, a text and email alert is also in order, along with a breaking news banner for our website.

I’ve learned the ropes of the digital content aspect of the profession over the years, so much so that it’s now part of my daily routine. If needed, I can even update the newspaper website through my cellphone or laptop at home.

Unfortunately, social media is a beast on its own. I am often both amazed and appalled at some and many things that people will say and do on Facebook.

Typically, we don’t try to argue with our readers on the newspaper’s official Facebook page. We prefer this to be a forum for free speech and opinion – as long as, of course, Facebook allows this free opinion speech without censorship from the tech giant’s so-called “investigators”. However, if we are asked a specific question on social media, we will do our best to answer it.

For example, a few weeks ago a reader asked why we didn’t include the death of a prominent Bluefield citizen in a story that detailed the well-known residents of the area we lost in 2021. The answer to this survey was straightforward. The person in question died in 2020, not 2021, so we’ve provided this simple answer.

Unfortunately, in recent years, many people have become somewhat combative on Facebook. They often engage in lengthy tirades with other readers online, especially on politics. Additionally, you have the problem with online trolls who will immediately attack if they feel that a comment posted by someone else is not in line with their own political point of view.

Some of these people are unwilling to compromise when it comes to an opposing political point of view. A few others may simply be agents of a certain political party who use social media websites to advance the political ideology of their respective political party.

So this is the downside of social networks. If nothing else, it certainly illustrates the deep political divide that is present in America today.

There are plenty of arguments online on social media, but none of these fights are rarely worth winning. So I prefer to just sit back and read what everyone else is posting, but not to interact or engage. Believe me, there is a lot that I could and would like to say, but too little to be gained by doing so.

The only thing I’ve learned over the years is that almost everyone has an opinion on something, and few are reluctant to share those opinions on Facebook. When we post a story online that we believe will generate a response from our readers, it’s not uncommon for those comments to start arriving a few minutes later on Facebook. Believe me, I wasted a lot of valuable work time reading all of these rants. Of course, it’s part of my job, but unfortunately I can’t spend all day on Facebook reading what everyone else is saying. I have other things to do.

So this is probably one of the most important changes that all of us in the newspaper industry have had to face in recent years. The internet used to be one thing, but social media is a whole different challenge.

Even if you don’t bother with social media, you can still get a little taste of the craziness with our weekly “Facebook Feedback” column that appears every Saturday in the print edition of the newspaper. It’s a sample of the comments from our Facebook page and a chance to see what your neighbors are arguing about on social media without even having to create your own Facebook account.

This is probably the best way to avoid online arguments and combative trolls.

Charles Owens is the The telegraph of the dayeditor-in-chief of. Contact him at Follow him @BDTOwens

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