Here's why journalists should be on TikTok

TikTok is a social media hotbed for communities, culture, creativity, and disinformation, making it an invaluable tool for journalists, said Laura Garcia, the training and support manager at First Draft.

Laura Garcia

Laura Garcia

More and more people are downloading TikTok. Where people go, so should journalists, Garcia said. She showed attendees at the International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) how to navigate the app and understand the culture of it during a brunch workshop on July 22 titled, “How journalists can use TikTok to find stories and monitor disinformation.”

“Journalism is about people, right, and that means that we need to understand the communities that we write about and that we want to get our journalism to regardless of where they live, whether that is Facebook groups...or a community that trades information on TikTok, ” Garcia said.

The video-sharing platform was the second most downloaded app in 2019. The users typically fall between the ages of 16 and 24.

This is an age group that newsrooms have been actively trying to engage, and TikTok gives a window into their interests. Surgeons, university admission counselors, psychologists, gynecologists, and more have already begun using the app to reach younger users.

In addition to monitoring for story ideas, TikTok can also be a platform for journalists to connect with new audiences by upload their own content. Newsrooms like the Washington Post, which pioneered journalism content on the app, make relatable and informative videos about the news in order to grow their audience.

“[We need to challenge ourselves] to think about storytelling beyond just print. How do we tell stories across screens? How do we do transmedia storytelling, where your TikTok compliments your print story or your TV news?” Garcia said.

Lastly, it can also be a place to monitor disinformation. As with any social media platform, TikTok has seen conspiracy theories spread on the app. Journalists can keep a pulse on what is spreading and work to debunk those claims.

As part of the brunch workshop, Garcia showed users a step-by-step tutorial for how to search for content, the anatomy of the app, and how to post and create a TikTok. To see the full recording of the workshop visit ISOJ’s YouTube channel.