Imagine doing your journalism without any social media. Imagine your newsroom is actually restricted by law in what social media it can use. That was the situation for Austrian radio correspondent Nadja Hahn who has spent the last month at Polis, LSE researching the value of social media for public service journalism. Here is her valedictory post. Download her research report here

My stay in London is coming to an end. In the past five weeks I visited the BBC, Channel4, ITV, CNN and spoke to lots of journalists, experts and academics. Thanks to all for sharing their thoughts with me. I had my own personal social media crash course.

So, going home now I am thinking about how I could be applying all that knowledge to my own reporting to make my stories better, provide more public value, reach a larger audience and get fresh ideas. I want to share my thoughts with you, as some of you might still be struggling to see the value social media could bring to a story.  Like I was.

Love & Money

In September, I did a 15 minute programme called “Love and Money” for the public service radio station I work for, ORF in Austria. It was about how couples deal with money. Do they have joint accounts or separate accounts, who takes financial decisions, who is in the know about mortgage rates, saving accounts, etc. I wanted to know if the way couples handle money is a reflection of the quality of their relationship. Psychologists say it is, because so many people separate because they fight over money. Women especially, should talk about money more, they say.

See link to the trailer of the programme (in German)

I didn’t use any social media to support this story. I should have.

It was very difficult to find couples, happy or divorced to talk. Social media might have helped me find people. I could have used Facebook to ask my friends if they wanted to talk or knew someone who would. I could have used a Facebook account of my radio station to do this, if we had one. I could have used my personal Twitter account to ask a question, like: Did money kill your relationship? Contact me at this email address. In addition, I could have used the Twitter account of the station or programme. If we had one.

Every couple I spoke to had something to say about this, but few wanted to go on air.  However, everyone wanted to know how other couples were handling family finances. Using social media could have helped gather voices, find more people, hear more views, if only online and not on air.

I could have used quotes from Twitter and Facebook on air. The Twitter and Facebook pages for the programme could have been platforms for people to discuss the issue, they could have shared experiences. I could have connected people to experts for family finances.

The audience feedback could have given me so many ideas for new stories in the future. The story could have had a much larger audience, also from people who never tune in on a Friday morning. All this would have been great public value.

What a shame I didn’t do this. I am not going to miss another chance like this.

This post by EBU Fellow Nadja Hahn. You can read about her research here. She will be publishing her Polis report in January 2013.

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