From a single tweet . . .
As they say, the times, they are a-changin'.
It used to be that as journalists, people would have to feed us information, make us privvy to something we didn't know. Sure, journalists still had to come up with story ideas and find stories on their own, but more often than not, journalists were given information — or pieces of information — and they had to follow up.
Nowadays, we live in an era of Facebook, Twitter and blogging where information is everywhere. It could be argued that nowadays we are inundated with information — there's so much of it coming at us at once. And, while social media can pose problems at times, it can also be a great place to find story ideas.
Sometimes as a journalist, you have to seek those ideas out by combing through the social web. But other times, the stories fall into your lap by happenstance.
For me, this could not have been more evident than this week when I broke a story because I follow John Stamos on Twitter. (Yes, I freely, and publicly, am admitting: I follow John Stamos on Twitter, but that's another blog post for another day.)
It was Monday and, as it always was, my Twitter feed was running in the background as I did my daily duties. I glanced at the pop ups when I could. But there was one tweet that caught my eye and I read it right away. It was a retweet from Stamos' account: some girl wanted tickets to his show this week in Niagara Falls. Stamos told her he'd give her two.
I read it a couple of times and at first came away with what a lucky girl this Natalie Léger was. But then my journalistic skills kicked in.
"I wonder who this girl is," I thought.
I clicked on her account, bringing up her profile. As it turns out, she goes to Ryerson.
Suddenly, this was no longer a decent deed done by a cool celebrity, this was a potential story.
I quickly informed my editor, who gave me the go ahead to write it. I contacted Léger via Facebook and Twitter, we set up an interview for that afternoon. Then I quickly tracked down Stamos' publicist to confirm what I was reading.
By 4 p.m., the story was posted on the website and the coolest thing happened: I got to watch as a story that I found — that I broke — made its way through the social web. And it was fascinating.
What really interests me about this story is how 10 years ago, Léger (or someone in the know) would have contacted the Star about her story. There's even a chance that no one would have contacted the press, and Léger would have gone to the concert as if it were just another show.
But instead, because of one single tweet, the Star contacted her (the first in a long line of media requests she got because of the Star's story).
So while many working journalists use Twitter and Facebook to find sources for stories they are already working on, sometimes stories can be found on social media in a way you never expected or anticipated.
And sometimes those stories come when you follow John Stamos on Twitter.
(Photo: John Stamos poses with Natalie Léger, who got to meet the Star after he saw a tweet of hers on Twitter earlier this week. Photo courtesy of Natalie Léger)