By Lauren Begley (@LaurenBegley), PepperDigital

Five years ago, I’d say my favorite part of the day was enjoying a cup of coffee while leafing through a crisp, printed copy of The New York Times. Today, my favorite part of the day is scanning through headlines from more than 40 news outlets on my iGoogle page while sipping a cup of joe.

There’s no question that readers are consuming news in different ways thanks to digital platforms. However, not everyone may realize the new ways journalists are relying on social and digital platforms to generate the news. Here are a few trends I’ve heard of most recently:

Following Online Conversations for Story Ideas: At a PRSA NY panel session earlier this week, an editor from Fitness Magazine discussed the various places she looks for story ideas. One of her favorite locations was the publication’s Facebook page. For example, a reader recently posted a comment on the best oatmeal brands and it generated a flurry of comments, questions and recommendations. As a result, she developed a nutrition story about oatmeal and athletic training. The article was a hit because the content spoke directly to the consumers’ proven interest.

Identifying experts on Twitter: Journalists are often looking for top experts in a particular field to offer expert commentary for any given article. In a pinch, it is not unlikely that a reporter would turn to Twitter to identify influencers talking about relevant subject matter. Catalogues like We Follow and Listorious have become go-to tools for writers and producers looking for sources with a strong position on a particular topic and established audience.

Extending the conversation online:  Rather than waiting around for a letter to the editor, journalists can get immediate feedback from the audience after a piece runs in print or online (or as the segment airs, in the case of broadcast). For example, 48 Hours Mystery does an excellent job of tying its investigative reporting to the Web. As an episode airs, a Twitter hashtag is visible on the screen so viewers can track conversations about the content. In some cases, a key personality from the program will conduct a live Facebook chat so viewers can ask direct questions and share feedback as the story unfolds. Ultimately, this makes for a richer viewer experience.

To our journalist friends reading this post – are there any other ways social media is impacting your work?

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