Trying to imagine my profession as a journalist without social media is almost impossible for me.
Yes, I can read and watch videos (on YouTube, no less), about the ages of journalism that came before my generation that came before me — the age where newspapers reigned or when radio wasn't a secondary form of news. But in today's world, I really can't picture the field without social media.
Social media has become a staple not only in our personal lives as journalists, but in our professional lives as well. Every platform that we use to communicate with our friends and family has also become a place that we can gather story ideas, sources and information for stories.
One of the most difficult apps for me to wrap my head around gathering news from was Snapchat. I was shocked that the 10-second photo app would ever become a place that I would be reading headlines, but mainstream media giants have capitalized on the app's huge audience — NBC recently launched their own newscast that is exclusive to the app, with a team of reporters that are completely devoted to only that program.
Snapchat also has a few important features of their own that do not need to be sourced from media giants. One of their newest features, SnapMap, allows users to view where all their friends are at any time.
Why is it important?
The SnapMap has shown another amazing use in the past week during both the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and the developments of Hurricane Irma in Florida. The map feature allows users to zoom in on a particular location and see curated videos and images of what is happening in the area.
This feature allows users to see the REAL damage the hurricanes have had on people in the real world as opposed to simply scrolling past headlines that they dismiss as not affecting them personally.
This tweet by Bryan Housel shows how the app is using their SnapMap feature to provide coverage for people about Hurricane Irma and where the storm is. This is a huge development in helping people learn about the devastation these storm surges are causing and his tweet shows his preference to the social network's coverage over mainstream media.