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Social media has been a gamechanger for news reporting, changing forever the way journalists source, verify and publish stories.

At the 2014 Web Summit in Dublin today, key people from Time, Storyful and Vice News spoke about how they are using social media in their reporting.


"Twitter is our competition, we have faced up to that reality," said Matt McAllester, Europe editor at Time.

"I think all legacy media organisations in the US and in the UK have gone through that process and some have not survived."

McAllester noted that the advent of social meant Time, like all legacy publications, had to "move in a more agile way than we used to".

For foreign correspondents in areas such as Ukraine and Liberia, he said Twitter had become "the fundamental tool" not only for reporting but for communication with other correspondents.

Time reporters such as Moscow correspondent Simon Shuster use Twitter to discover stories that are breaking nearby and head straight there while also "triangulating other tweets" to check if the area is at risk.

"[Shuster] uses Twitter a lot to make sure that it's safe to go down a certain road and go down a certain place and talk to certain people," explained McAllester.

He added that Twitter has replaced the role of the mobile phone, once so essential in foreign reporting, allowing more immediate communication with a wider number of people.

"It's a sort of security and news crowdsourcing that takes place in real-time," he said. "It's incredibly valuable.'"


Vice News, a channel heavily focused on video, launched six months ago after spotting an absence of current affairs aimed at 16 to 35 years old, an age group that is challenging for legacy outlets to engage.

Despite what was once a common assumption that younger audiences were not interested watching anything longer than a couple of minutes online, the outlet noticed an "enormous appetite" for more in-depth reporting on global news.

Vice News videos are anything from a couple of minutes to an hour long. Vice's most popular video on YouTube, The Islamic State, is over 42 minutes long.

The outlet now has a million subscribers on YouTube and 150 million video views, explained Kevin Sutcliffe, head of news programming, EU.

He added that the main emphasis for Vice News was "original content on any platform", be it video, social or mobile.

"What we've found over the last six months is we've overturned the sense that there isn't an interest from this age group for news, current affairs and the world," said Sutcliffe. "It's enormous and it's growing exponentially."


The social newswire Storyful launched its Open Newsroom on Google+ last year, providing an online space where journalists, experts and members of the public can assist in verifying content from social media.

The Newsroom, which currently has more than a thousand members, came into its own following the chemical weapons attacks on Syria in August last year, explained Mark Little, founder and chief executive officer at Storyful.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had argued the time-stamps on YouTube videos purporting to show the aftermath of the attacks pre-dated the actual attacks.

However, a member of Storyful's Open Newsroom pointed out that the time-stamps were in San Bruno, California - YouTube's timezone.

Following this revelation, Storyful "were able to contact Lavrov in real-time, with the help of this mobilised community on a Google+ Open Newsroom," said Little.

He noted that the prevalence of social media has seen the emergence of two forms of distinct yet related journalism - the "facts on the ground" such as eyewitnesses and foreign correspondents, and the people responsible for filtering and verifying information.

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