SS: Unfortunately, the times social media can be most useful are when terrible, tragic stories are unfolding. Like the Boston bombing scenario in the BuzzFeed article, it brings out the best and worst in social media. For me, the value of engaging with the community was most useful in December during a manhunt that followed the senseless gunning down of two police officers at a grocery store. People were panicked and misinformed, and for once, it felt like we were making a difference in their lives.
KS: I think covering the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, will always be the experience that had the most effect on me. It was so tragic and so many people (not just those local to Connecticut) were getting their information through the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Hartford Courant. On the day of the shooting, I actually physically moved where I was sitting to sit next to our breaking news editor, so that when new and verified information was available, I was able to post it on social immediately. Later, I made a Storify of our social media tweets and Facebook updates from our main accounts and our reporters at the scene. It was chilling to see the updates we sent out in chronological order like that, almost tweet by tweet.
JW: The most rewarding things are probably 1. When you see a light bulb light up above a reporter’s head and you know they understand the benefits of social media and how to reap them. 2. When our readers congratulate or thank us for doing something well, whether it’s a well-written tweet or the comprehensive coverage of a difficult topic.