Sophia Smith Galer: Why news reporters should be on TikTok

Senior News Reporter at Vice with 450,000 followers on her TikTok account, Sophia Smith Galer, pioneer journalist on the platform, tells us why and how to make your way on TikTok. 

© Nancy Wangue
  • The need to get out of your comfort zone to reach a younger public  
  • Her advice to develop TikTok in a newsroom 
  • Journalistic formats which work best on TikTok

All of a sudden a new platform finds its way into your practice, what would you choose to do with it ? Are you going to get used to its functioning in the newsroom, so as to reach young audiences, or are you going to turn a blind eye and pretend it does not exist ? », she wondered.

Sophia Smith Galer chose the first option in 2019, and received the British Journalism Awards Innovation of the Year in 2021. 

« Platforms are not everlasting. I love Twitter, all journalists love Twitter, but that’s not where the audience is, let alone the youth. » For her, Twitter users are already into information. This is precisely why it is vital to join TikTok, in order to make sure young people have access to reliable information, and are not exposed to fake news without debunking. 

But developing TikTok in a newsroom needs to meet several requirements, explained Sophia Smith Galer. First of all, a collaborative work culture must be favored. We should also ensure journalists’ safety online, in order to protect them from online hatred and cyberharassment. We must also unleash the creativity of journalists while promoting young talents, particularly creative on social media. Finally, we must put TikTok on an equal footing with other social media. 

Over the course of her career, Sophia Smith Galer developed different journalistic formats on TikTok. What works best with her audience is a simple explanation of current events. No need for written data, oral explanation is information and data in itself. The explanation of articles via TikTok is also a way for the journalist to promote articles written for her media, Vice. Vice also started to develop the « in-situ reporting » on Tik Tok, which also works very well: making a video directly from a reporting field, in which the journalist herself appears.

By Nathan Laporte et Florine Silvant

Translated by Juliette Laffont et Sarah Miansoni

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