Remember when viewers were encouraged to call the station’s Tipsline? At WSTM in Syracuse, it was a phone resembling something out of the ‘50s that sat next to the assignment desk. And, yes, it rang from time to time. But, nowadays most news tips from viewers come in via e-mail.

With the birth, or should I say outburst, of new media could Twitter and Facebook serve as the new link to gathering stories and information from the public? An article last week in The Boston Herald reported about several Boston TV stations using the micro blog and social networking site to connect with viewers, and perhaps attract more of them. This practice is certainly not limited to Boston stations, as many across the country are doing the very same thing.

As the article noted, “When WFXT-TV (Channel 25) reporter Jim Armstrong needed help on a recent story, he sent this Twitter message to his 179 followers: ‘working on a special project about. . . . wait for it. . . . CouchSurfing. u familiar?’”

While many consider new media to be the archenemy to sound journalism, I don’t believe that to be the case. Journalism has always been shaped by technology, and that doesn’t mean the fundamentals of reporting need to change. So, it is encouraging that many journalists who initially frowned upon the new technologies are finally embracing them.

After all, the public is increasingly turning to online sources for news, whether they are blogs or news sites. Instead of turning a cold shoulder to the opportunities online, journalists should seize the moment. Use this as a chance to become leaders in what is one of the most exciting and perhaps scary times for communications as a whole.

Twitter as the new Tipsline?
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