Social media on television and radio news is mostly frivolous — full of celebrity gossip and uninformed opinion, said Kent Collins, 2012-2013 Donald W. Reynolds Fellow.

But it could be a valuable tool for broadcasters who have the responsibility to create a public forum and a need to build audience loyalty, said Collins.

How can journalists use social media to dig deeper into issues to make stories richer and audiences bigger?

Reaching out to broadcasters

To foster higher quality community discussion on important issues, RJI and the Missouri School of Journalism will be launching a series of workshops. The workshops will help broadcasters focus on easy-to-use social media techniques to create a higher quality discussion about issues in the news and in the community.

The workshops were inspired by Collins’ experiment and research work as a Reynolds Fellow. Collins partnered with The Nine Network (KETC) in St. Louis to create the public affairs program “Stay Tuned,” which has created a more robust social media exchange with KETC viewers.

“St. Louis is richer for the high quality Thursday night broadcast known as Stay Tuned,” said Collins.

A look at the workshops

The workshops are available to state broadcasters associations and regional/national broadcasting organizations. Radio and TV station owners can also schedule a workshop.

The workshops will specifically address the needs of news directors, news managers, program directors and their staff members.

The three-hour long workshops will be hosted at the broadcaster’s site and will focus on techniques for asking more compelling questions that seek more specific answers.

Learn how to…

  • Find new stakeholders who have a serious interest in specific topics in the news and in community affairs.
  • Compose social media messages to those stakeholders so they reply with good questions/ideas that enhance the coverage of that topic.
  • Spark a lively flow of email messages to your station during a live broadcast.
  • Follow up in the days/weeks after the broadcast to continue the conversation.

In order to evaluate the impact of social media on important topics discussed on “Stay Tuned,” researchers at RJI and the Missouri School of Journalism are doing quantitative and qualitative research. Those research reports should be available later this fall. Watch RJI’s website for more information about the research findings.

Those interested in scheduling a workshop and inquiring about costs should call Collins at 573-882-1957 or email him at

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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