A modern anchor: David Muir (@DavidMuir), anchor and managing editor of ABC World News Tonight, uses social media to stay connected with his audience. This Q&A with him appears in Chapter 1, Forces at the Gate: An Active Audience.
You started in television news more than 20 years ago. The media landscape looked quite different then. How has new media impacted journalism since your early days in newsrooms?
I vividly remember working in local news when the primary purpose for a station’s website was to simply post pieces from a newscast that already aired. Reporters or anchors would often say, “for more on this, go to our website.”
In today’s environment, social media allows us to engage in a living, breathing conversation with the viewer all day long. I think the bar is much higher for what viewers will be interested in online. They don’t want to watch a report they’ve already seen on television. There is an expectation we will deliver something they didn’t see or something with added value, and rightly so. It provides us with an opportunity to take the audience along on the journey, and we’ve used it during reporting trips to the Syrian border on child refugees and during our historic conversation with Pope Francis.
You’re constantly connecting with the audience through social media, especially Twitter. How have these platforms changed your relationship with the audience?
Viewers have been given a voice in a way that wasn’t even possible a few years ago. We learn immediately on Twitter or on Facebook about a question viewers want asked during a presidential primary debate or of factories that want us to profile them for our Made in America series. I love that. Viewers are helping to drive the conversation.
I grew up watching Peter Jennings, and I have long said he was masterful at having a conversation every night with America, but that conversation now truly goes both ways. Viewers can communicate with me before, after, and during the newscast, and they do.
Describe how you use social media on a daily basis. (That’s you tweeting from @DavidMuir during commercial breaks, right?)
I tweet during commercial breaks, but I’m not necessarily tweeting or posting on Instagram to drive people to their TV. I’m on social media, because America is on social media. And I believe our broadcast should reflect how people are living their lives. People are documenting their own lives in ways we never could have imagined. It’s helped to build an army of citizen journalists who capture moments with their own phones that, when combined with the proper context, can give us a window into something we never would have seen.
Each chapter of the book includes a From the Newsroom section that features perspectives and insights from journalists.