NBC’s Betsy Fischer Martin sees future of media built on partnerships between social media and news organizations

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Betsy Fischer Martin and Alex S. Jones

Betsy Fischer Martin and Alex S. Jones

October 22, 2013 – The Shorenstein Center welcomed Betsy Fischer Martin, managing editor of NBC News Political Programming and former senior executive producer of “Meet the Press,” to share her thoughts on the changing media landscape.

During her 20-year tenure at “Meet the Press,” Fischer Martin said, technology changed the show considerably. Her job when she started as an intern was “all about finding information” to report on and discuss during the show. Now, she said, the show’s priority is “cultivating information and trying to distill it.” Like most journalists, she “uses Twitter as a news feed,” and so the challenge of the show, she said, is out of the surplus of information, finding a way “to present to the viewers the most important aspect” of each story.

Twitter has helped with marketing the program, Fischer Martin said. The program staff live-tweet during the show, and help engage TV and online audiences. News about the show doesn’t have to wait for wires or press releases anymore, she said. Instead, it can be immediately broadcast through Twitter at any time.

“Meet the Press” partnered with Facebook in 2012 to host a debate in New Hampshire for the Republican presidential candidates. The event was extremely popular and gave the program an edge in a competitive market, she said. Fischer Martin went on to predict that this model of partnerships between Facebook, Twitter and news organizations “will develop over time.” She cited a new partnership between Twitter and Nielsen ratings as another example of this increasingly popular model.

Fischer Martin concluded by offering some advice to journalism students: “Don’t study just journalism — find your area of expertise and study that,” she said. “Find your niche and become an expert.”

Article and photo by Janell Sims, Shorenstein Center.

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