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Interview: Wannabe Hacks’ The Chancer gives his views on social media

March 15, 2011

We catch up with one fifth of Wannabe Hacks—Tom Clarke aka the Chancer—to talk about social media and its effect on journalism.

the chancer

What do you think are the most important social media tools for journalists and media outlets today?

Obviously I can’t answer for the other hacks but for me personally Twitter has become increasingly important in my work both in terms of sourcing stories and getting people to read what I write.

Most recently I was able to generate a story about some fundraising for the victims of the Japan earthquake following a conversation on Twitter. Admittedly I would have been able to get this story had I gone out in the local area on foot but Twitter made the whole process a lot easier.

Facebook is less important for Hacks but we are looking to increase our use of the site.

How much do you use social media as promotion for Wannabe Hacks?

Twitter is also crucial for us at Hacks to interact with our followers and obviously tweeting links to all the content on the site. Twitter was crucial in getting established when we first set up the site. We have a fan page and we have over 1000 followers on Twitter and this community is important when it comes to generating hits.

Should media corporations be worried about users getting their news through social media rather than from the publications themselves?

Well to be terribly boring I would have to offer a classic yes/no answer. I don’t think they should be worried but I think that they are concerned about not being able to compete in terms of the speed in which news is delivered. In my opinion they should accept the fact that social media allows for instant reporting of news and concentrate on providing the in-depth analysis and comment to back up all those live up-to-date tweets.

Do journalists have a responsibility to link back to or mention the outlets for which they work?

I think this would depend on whether the outlets link to them in the first place, I think both should take place so that a clear relationship can be seen between journalists and the newspapers and sites they work for.

So readers like myself can see that the collaborative efforts of a newspaper and its writers. I also think (this may have been more your actual question) that writers should link back to colleagues and other articles they like from their employer – again it’s good for collaboration and also sharing content.

Do you think Twitter and Facebook could be replaced by new services in years to come?

Things are clearly always susceptible to change but I would be hesitant to suggest the end of Twitter and Facebook. What I do think is that Facebook will become more important when it comes to a professional approach to linking articles and interacting with your audience. For now Twitter will be crucial especially for Hacks.

Read more from Tom at or follow him on Twitter

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