Student journalists should add Reddit to their toolkit

When it comes to social media, student journalists spend a lot of time producing content these days, but they don’t seem to take advantage of what social platforms can do for them. In particular, Reddit seems to be a largely underutilized tool reporting tool in the scholastic media community.

With that in mind, I attended “How Journalists Can Best Use Reddit in 2021,” an online workshop moderated by Jeremy Caplan from the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Reddit’s Senior Partnerships Managers Youyoung Lee and Gabriel Sands spent an hour showcasing key features, sharing best practices and answering questions to help journalists take advantage of the social platforms’s more than 52 million daily active users. 

Here are the key takeaways for student journalists:

[1] First things first — If you’re new to Reddit, start with the mobile app. It’s great for browsing with less on the screen, making it less overwhelming. Here’s a basic User 101 guide.

A major difference is the platform’s idea-forward framework. In other words, it’s not person-forward. Instead of being based on people (such as users following friends, media outlets, brands or influencers) it’s based on following topics. Reddit has more than 100,000 communities (also called “subreddits”) based on topic. Start here to see common areas of interest.

If you want to establish credibility on Reddit, known as karma:

  • Post, comment and get up-voted. An AMA (Ask Me Anything) is a great way to start.
  • Sometimes approval is granted on a one-off basis, so you can DM the moderator to introduce yourself and include links to your published work to identify yourself as a member of student media;

[2] Find sources for a story — People who post on Reddit are typically highly engaged and passionate about the content they post and topics they follow. (According to Lee, the average daily user spends 12 minutes, which is more than three minutes more than stats from other social media sites.) Quality control is embedded in the system as users vote up and down the posted comments.

Setting up custom feeds is a great way to follow a topic regularly — especially if you have a beat you’re covering and want to stay updated with several similar communities. A custom feed will group subreddits pertaining to a common subject or interest. For example, you could create a custom feed by selecting your city, town, county, surrounding local areas and state.)

Using Reddit to find someone affected by a particular issue can be easier than the open call on your campus or social media posts like “Do you know anyone who …?” because users posting are showing the larger community that this is a topic they want to talk about.

Of course, you can also find sources on Redding by conducting an advanced Google search for Reddit comments or follow these search tips.

[3] Find story ideas — Reddit can be its own complete black hole for interesting content, such as TIL (Today I Learned) or CMV (Change My View). Here are a few communities to join for generally interesting information:

  • r/news
  • r/worldnews
  • r/coronavirus
  • r/askscience
  • r/history
  • r/writingprompts

Again, setting up a custom feed based on where you live is great for finding good ideas happening near you.

[4] Cite properly, of course! Make sure to use embeds when citing Reddit comments. Here’s more on why and how to embed.

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