Sharing is Caring, Even on Social Media

How do you know what is going on in the world? Do you get up in the morning and turn on the television, or turn over in bed and look at your phone? The answer may depend on your age, still more people are turning to their phones for news than ever before.

A study published in AdWeek shows 80% of 18-44 years old reach for their phone first thing in the morning. The IDC Research report was sponsored by Facebook and claims 79% of smartphone users have the device with them for 22 hours a day. People site connectedness, curiosity, and productivity as the reason. A closer look at the study shows people check their Facebook news feeds on a regular basis, and people spend about 20 minutes a day on Facebook. Think about how quickly you check Facebook on your phone, and how easily those numbers can add up. This study was published in 2013, so you can assume the numbers have only gone up.

Adweek: Digital Study

If you are interested in the latest stats on Facebook check out this blog:

Facebook Stats Blog

Do you share content on Facebook? Many of us do, and that statistic continues to climb. News organizations and marketing companies spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to write a Facebook post so it will encourage people to share. There is no tried and true formula, but researchers keep looking.

Every wonder what makes a person share content on social media? That research still in its infancy but some trends are starting to emerge.

When it comes to social media, there are two types of people, those who observe and those who engage. A study in Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly looked at those two groups and among their findings, those who spend more time on social media tend to be more heavily engaged. When a person joins a social media network, they often sit back and observe until they are comfortable.


When you share news or other content through social media, it is a way to create and maintain relationships according to a study published in Computers in Human Behavior.  News content had a higher social value when it came to sharing information. Those who share news tend to do to so as a sense of social responsibility. They want their “friends” to know what is going on in the world. There is also a sense of increasing your online status when you become highly engaged and share content frequently. Finally, people share information to gain peer acceptance, to show they are “in the know” and can be part of a larger conversation.


That peer-to-peer sharing gets shared more often that information put out by an organization or company. There is a level of trust between “friends” when it comes to the types of content that are shared (Mahmood & Sismeiro, 2017).


Peer-to-peer sharing is better than organizational sharing, because of the level of trust between “friends” according to a study out of London published in the  Journal of Interactive Marketing. This is why some companies are targeting those primary users with content, in hopes that they share to the wide range of “friends” they have on Facebook or other social media networks. It has been shown, at least on Facebook, that “friends” tend to visit the same websites and can be driven to those sites through shared content.  This definitely has a financial impact to the company because more eyes on a website mean higher ad revenue.

So why do you “share” on social media? How as a company can you tap into that need for people to be social as a way to get more engagement for your audience? This has become the topic of a paper I am writing for a course, and find the questions fascinating.


Side Note:

Programs like Facebook’s Instant Articles tends to keep people on the social media network and not visiting those originating websites, meaning a potential loss of revenue for the news organizations. There is a financial arrangement between the news generators and Facebook currently. In fact, a new report claims Google and Facebook account for nearly all the growth in digital advertising, the numbers are still be debated you can read the report from Fortune here.



Choi, J. “News Internalizing and Externalizing: The Dimensions of News Sharing on           Online Social Networking Sites.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 93.4 (2016):         816-35. Web.
Ingram, Mathew. “Google and Facebook Account For Nearly All Growth in Digital Ads.” Google and Facebook Reap Almost All Digital Ad Growth | Fortune, 26 Apr. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Lafferty, Justin. “STUDY: How Addicted Are We To Facebook Mobile?” – Adweek. Adweek, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

Lee, Chei Sian, and Long Ma. “News Sharing in Social Media: The Effect of Gratifications and      Prior Experience.” Computers in Human Behavior 28.2 (2012): 331-39. Web.

Mahmood, A., & Sismeiro, C. (2017). Will They Come and Will They Stay? Online Social  Networks and News Consumption on External Websites. Journal of Interactive             Marketing, 37, 117-132. doi:10.1016/j.intmar.2016.10.003
Stadd, Allison. “79% Of People 18-44 Have Their Smartphones With Them 22 Hours A Day [STUDY].” – Adweek. Adweek, 2 Apr. 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
“Top 20 Facebook Statistics – Updated April 2017.” Zephoria Inc. Zephoria Inc., 11 Apr. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.



A View from the Sidelines

For the first time in some years, I went to the Boston Marathon as a spectator, not a journalist. There was no need to feed those live reports to radio stations around the country. I was not looking for the wide spectrum of people to speak with about why the braved the crowds. Instead, I was simply one of those people.


I dragged my daughter along, she goes to college in Boston. We started at Fenway while the Red Sox were still playing, and stopped to watch some of the runners go through Kenmore Square. These were not the elite runners, but those who have full-time jobs and still manage to train for the grueling marathon. It was inspiring to see the determination on faces of men and women that as a child probably never dreamed they would be running this marathon.


We went toward Fenway Park, the Red Sox were still playing, the crowd was huge. There were college students, families and a lot of international visitors. The atmosphere was positive and fun and showed how the city of Boston can come together.


One of the highlights of the day, a stretch where the runners go into a tunnel and back out only to have to climb a hill, with one mile left to go. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and the crowds were still there cheering, with cowbells and encouraging each person to just keep going. A metaphor for life, just keep going and encourage others to do the same.


Since the 2013 bombings, the marathon has become synonymous with a spirit of perseverance.  It has now become part of the narrative for any news organization covering the event. This year, while the Boston media honored those who died and those who survived, it seemed for the first time it was not the focus of pre-marathon coverage. This could be because the trial is over, and the city has found some closure. There were stories about survivors running the marathon, and the wreath laying ceremonies were covered live.


I will admit, seeing large trucks blocking the streets that led to the marathon route was a bit unnerving. Knowing that around the world terror attacks have become more frequent and targeting large crowds. There were security checkpoints along the route, but no one complained about the lines. In fact, many now know the routine, a clear plastic bag or no bag at all.


We stopped several times along the route to marvel at the accomplishments of the runners, and the cheer them on. It was nice for a change to be part of the day and not just an observer. It gave me a new perspective on Marathon Monday, that is more than just a day off from school and work and the kick off to the tourism season in Boston. The day is a celebration of unity, because when you looked at the runners and those who were cheering we were all one, celebrating a spectacular event that brings us all together.


Next year I am sure to be back in the thick of it as a journalist, and while those press credentials will make it easier to get around, I will have a new respect for those who make the time to cheer on friends and strangers

Is that a Slot Machine in Your Pocket? Some say Yes.

We have all done it, left for work in the morning only to realize you left your phone at home on the counter. What do you do? Some people will turn around, others will ask a family member to bring in, and a small group will just suffer through the day. I say suffer because that feeling of disconnect is sometimes hard to take.

This week’s blog is in response to a CBS 60 Minutes story on “Brain Hacking.”


Companies are developing apps with the specific goal of keeping you engaged, and sort of addicted. They talk about SnapChat and keeping track of streaks to encourage people to use the app more often, which leads to more ads and revenue. What scared me the most about this information is programmers were targeting the individual creating codes that are responding to how you use that smartphone, and when is the best time to give you “rewards” so you remain on the phone looking at ads longer.


It sounds like a futuristic movie, but it is here. This is one reason it is so hard to “unplug” and especially for teens being away from their phone and access is anxiety producing. If you think this does not impact you, think again… where is your phone right now?

In the CBS 60 Minute story Anderson Cooper talked to Tristan Harris, a one-time Design Ethicist for Google he now spends his time speaking out about the impact of technology on life, and has created an organization called Time Well Spent. His recent essay describes your cell phone as a slot machine, sometimes you get the reward of likes or other interactions, sometimes you do not.


I will admit to being conflicted while writing this blog. I am studying Interactive News, and the idea is to get the audience engaged and return to a specific website or app. It is a business, and this technology is what makes it profitable. In fact, you most likely read this blog after seeing a post on social media.

Push notifications from news organizations interrupt your life, so you feel the need to look at your phone and read the story. That is the goal of the news organization, get more eyes on the website or app to sell more advertising. Without that revenue, there would be no place for journalists work to be seen or read. I will continue to study ways to engage the audience and increase page views.

There are good and bad points to social media, it allows people to connect that may not have had the opportunity, it can also be a time waster and reduce productivity. Like everything there needs to be moderation.


Our smartphones are not going away. In the past ten years, they have become part of the daily life for millions. There is a whole generation that cannot imagine not being connected 24/7. I guess what we need to work on is how to unplug, and why.  How to get over the fear of missing something important. Remember you cannot miss something you did not see.


I do not believe it is realistic to completely go off of social media, most people feel the need to be informed. It is possible to set some boundaries, no phones at the dinner table, put your phone in a backpack while hiking, or even resolve to call a friend once a week. Knowledge is power and understanding why our phones, and social media accounts, are so addictive could help you make better decisions.

While writing this article I left my phone upstairs, I will admit it is driving me crazy!

The Reuters Way; “Providing news to people so they can make better decisions.” Why do you read the news?

Just the facts Ma’am. It is a phrase most of us have heard. It has been associated with journalism, despite it coming from the television show, Dragnet, a police drama in the 1950s. These days finding and understanding “just the facts” is easier said than done. This was the premise for a panel at Emerson College featuring Stephen Adler, President, and Editor-in-Chief of Reuters.  Adler making it clear to students and faculty the mission of Reuters “providing news to people so they can make better decisions.”

Who is Stephen Adler?

The panel was titled “Finding Facts with Steve Adler” and students as well as faculty were encouraged to discuss objectivity in journalism at a time when the White House is openly hostile to reporters.  You may recall Adler sent a memo to his staff in January about how to cover the White House, it leaked, and Adler decided just to make the document public. Many believed he was comparing the Trump Administration to regimes in places like Turkey and Iraq, but during this discussion, he corrected that misconception.

Covering Trump the Reuters Way

Adler saying they are putting more resources in better places than the White House press room adding “most of the action is not in that room.” Adler saying that has always been the case, not just in Washington but in countries around the world.  Reporters need to develop sources and find a story not wait for it to be handed to them. Adler would argue that is easier in Washington under the Trump Administration than it was under President Obama, saying more people in government are willing to talk to reporters.

When pressed about the decision to remain in an off the record gaggle that other news outlets, including CNN, were not allowed Adler responded, “our job is to get the news, not commit mass acts of journalism.” Adler did say they shared information with the briefing, and there have been discussions about the course of action should a similar decision be made by the White House Press Secretary in the future. Adler says there are a number of organizations that work on behalf of journalists to fight First Amendment issues, and he is a member of those groups.

Reuters Article on Gaggle Ban

When it came to the topic of objectivity, and how some news organizations may not be following that model Adler was clear Reuters will not stray from the practice. Saying Reuters sells stories to other news organizations around the world and need to uphold a certain standard. Adler believing you cannot do an accurate story if you are not fair. He went on to acknowledge this practice does mean fewer “shares” on social media because people like opinion, and do engage when it is included. Adler not a fan of the media model based on clicks, instead wants to focus on journalism.

There was another pressing issue those in the audience wanted to discuss with Adler, fake news. These are stories that appear to be real news stories but are true fiction. CBS 60 Minutes did a short segment on this recently.

CBS 60 Minutes Report on Fake News

The creators are out to make money. However, the practice has made the general public skeptical of news. Not to mention the President referring to fake news on a regular basis. Adler talking about building trust with the audience, and how at Reuters the focus is on accuracy over speed. This means independently verifying every piece of user-generated content before it can be included or referenced in a report. At times this means they are the last ones to go with a story, but upholding the Reuters reputation is worth it.

Adler suggested more organizations be transparent in their news gathering process. Post the court documents or other paperwork if you have it, so there is no question the information is accurate. He also suggested news literacy needs to be increased in America, a return to civics classes for example.  Adler agrees the job of a reporter has changed, more information than ever is to be disseminated. He also believes some things stay the same, like accurate and fair reporting.