Two case studies of breaking news coverage using Facebook page

There have been many articles and posts about how news media use Facebook and Twitter to engage audiences in their daily news reporting. I came across an example of how a television station, WTKR, used its Facebook page to solicit photos from fans about a plane crash in Virginia Beach, Va., on April 9.

WTKR NewsChannel 3 in Norfolk, Va., has about 70,000 fans for its Facebook page. Below is the quote in the example explaining how WTKR did it.

It breaks news to its Facebook audience that a jet has crashed, directing fans to its channel for more information. Fans began to submit photos to the station by posting them to the WTKR NewsChannel 3 Facebook Page. The Page then re-posted some of the more vivid photos from the scene of the crash as part of their coverage of the event.

The news organization provided timely updates about the crash as more photos and informations came in. WTKR was able to crowdsource dozens of photos from its Facebook fans as part of its coverage, which were collected into an album of photos posted by viewers.

It’s interesting to note some comments left by media professionals for this example. One anchor for News 12 New Jersey said that some pertinent comments left on the Facebook page by fans can also be used on air; the anchor said that his newscast did something similar when covering Whitney Houston’s funeral back in February.

I checked out News 12 New Jersey‘s Facebook page, which has 90,000 fans, and found several posts by News 12 in regard to Whitney Houston and the funeral. Essentially, they posted three questions, each generated hundreds of comments by their Facebook fans. Based on what the anchor said, they must used some of those comments on air. Below are the three questions they posted:

  • “Did you watch Whitney Houston’s funeral service today? What part moved you the most?”
  • “What do you think of Governor Christie ordering flags to be flown at half staff on Saturday in honor of Whitney Houston?”
  • “Whitney started singing in public at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark when she was 11. What’s your favorite Whitney song?”

About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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