How Social is Changing Journalistic Storytelling

Last week, we talked to Jim Roberts, executive editor and chief content officer at Mashable and Liz Heron, emerging media editor at The Wall Street Journal. The two took part in a panel hosted by The Wall Street Journal at Social Media Week in New York. Here, they tell us more about how social media is changing journalism.

“Mobile and social have become the same audience. We’ve trained all of our reporters around the world to be thinking more digitally,” said Heron at the panel. “We’re doing a big headline shift to make headlines more shareable.”

According to Heron, hard news is an area that does particularly well for WSJ on social and mobile, but it has to be presented in a visual way. The paper now sees about 37 percent of its traffic come from mobile.

The ratio is even higher for Mashable, which sees about 45 percent of its traffic coming from mobile. “I could see us getting to the point of 60 to 70 percent, and we would have to deliver mobile first,” said Roberts.

With the myriad of social offerings to take up consumers’ time, news organizations are finding themselves competing against social networks for attention. “[That's] the biggest challenge,” said Heron. “It’s also an opportunity. We can be a part of that revolution instead of being cut out by it.”

One example of the WSJ‘s social initiatives was The Lobotomy Files, a story that Heron talks about in the video above. “For once in my career I really prefer to read the stories online, rather than on newsprint under my breakfast cereal,” said Michael Phillips, the writer of the story, in a Reddit AMA. The story was also teased on Instagram.

Related: Mashable’s Jim Roberts ‘Outraged’ By Politico Piece on Apocalypsticles

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