The BBC's Paul Brannan on how journalists are tapping into social media

The second panel at the International Online Journalism Symposium at UT Austin in Texas brought together a range of voices to discuss how journalists are engaging in the conversation online.

It featured one of my former colleagues, Paul Brannan,  emerging platforms editor at the BBC News website, who started off by emphasising that social media is going to be at the heart of journalism in the future.

The BBC is well-known for its approach towards user-generated content. Brannan highlighted the citizen videos of alleged police violence during the recent G20 protests in London as an example of how people are now able to “make the news”.

But Brannan warned that one of the perils of engaging with social media is that some people will be out to trick the media, so you needto check, check and recheck.

Verification is one issue, but the other is being too successful at appealing for user content. During heavy snow fall in Britain over the winter, the BBC received more than 35,000 photos.

“How do you cope with that level of content?’ asked Brannan.

Overall, Brannan was positive about the potential contribution of social media to journalism, talking about how micro-blogging serivces like Twitter can provide a real-time stream of information.