How far do traditional broadcasters need to change their news reporting for social platforms? Jossie Evans, social media team lead at ITV News, spoke to us about misconceptions around the news consumption of younger people, and the importance of putting trustworthy reporting into the social media space. 


Can you describe what your role looks like day-to-day?

I lead the social team at ITV News, which I think is the most exciting job to do in the newsroom. We have our morning meeting where we chat through plans for the day, both for our main account and for our ITV Politics account. Sometimes that means on-the-day turn around, so we'll discuss it in the morning and have a video ready to go by the afternoon or evening. Other times it means checking in on longer form stories or investigations that we're working on.  

In terms of what we’re aiming for by the end of the day, there are our products Here’s The Story, which is more explainers, it's aimed at a slightly older Gen Z audience. The other is The Rundown, which is our social media news bulletin that goes out at 3:30pm every single day. 

The morning meeting is deciding what goes into both of those products. My job is to help with that commissioning, point producers in the right direction in terms of which stories, and then check and edit scripts, keep across edits during the day, and have final sign off on both Here's The Story and The Rundown at the end of the day.


As a broader question, do you see any common misconceptions about how Gen Z consume or want to consume their news?

Yeah, big time. Within this newsroom, but also wider, and what we inherit ourselves even on our social team. I think it's quite easy for us to think that the fun story of the day, the cute animal story of the day, would work great on socials.

The platforms may not be the same as your traditional print or broadcast spaces, but we have massive crossover with the same stories that interest an evening news audience. It’s just about finding the bit that interests Gen Z within that story, and delivering it to them in a non-condescending, understandable way without assuming loads of background knowledge. Equally, you’ve got to have that balance - they're more clued up than we are on loads of things.

I think for too long the broadcast news industry as a whole didn't go on to these platforms that Gen Z are using and expected them to come to us.

It was a sudden wake up call of realising that we’re going to have to go to them, and adapt our style to be interesting to them, and too right. We shouldn’t expect them to sit down and watch traditional TV in the same way that has been done for years.


At the Society of Editors Conference we heard that as few as two lobby journalists are using TikTok – does that sum up the traditional attitude to new platforms?

Yes, that to me is absolutely wild because you're breaking some of the biggest stories of the year and they would absolutely fly on social platforms. Unfortunately, if traditional media aren't going to get onto those platforms to cover it, then your non-traditional media will. Then to this Gen Z audience, the non-traditional is all they're going to know, and traditional media is only ever going to get left behind. If you're owning the story across your digital, your print, your broadcast platforms, then you should be owning it across the social platforms as well.


And as a journalist focused on social, you must be on the front line for some of the risks for journalists in that space. Does your team have processes in place around online safety for journalists, and how might you deal with it personally?

Yes, it’s so much more immediate, right? For us, as soon as you put a video up, a comment pops up within a second. 

The team I lead is quite young, quite dynamic. We've come from all different walks of life, and in a way that better prepares you to be working in that space. All of us have grown up on social media, so there is a better media literacy around how to protect yourself, with filters on your accounts, privacy settings, having a separate work account and all of that.

But at the same time, we are still a group of younger journalists where those sorts of messages could set you back, or you could really let it get to you. So ITN and ITV News across the board is very good at having those checks and protections in place. 


You are a co-chair for ITN’s Pride Network and you have spoken about this before, but what can be done to improve the media's reporting of the issues impacting LGBTQ+ people?

I could write a book. I think it's a really interesting and difficult one. A slightly more naive me of a few years ago would say ‘listen!’, but we've got to the point where we're very good at listening, editors and bosses are very good at listening, but it’s listening and enacting change on the first time you hear something rather than sitting with it and having those same conversations again and again and again. 

You have to have diversity in your newsrooms across the board. Obviously I'm speaking from an LGBT+ perspective, but with any story that that involves a point of difference or a minority voice, you have to have reporters and producers who can speak to that experience or who can reflect the communities that that impacts. 

That's just a benefit across the board. There are business benefits to that, where you don't need to send someone down to go speak to people because if you've got a producer who already knows everybody related to that story, they already have that knowledge, they already have that contact.

There are also plenty of ethical reasons, and it benefits the coverage as a whole. Public service broadcasters have a responsibility to give audiences what they need, fairly and accurately, and the only way to do that is to have people who can speak with experience of those issues, certainly around the issues impacting trans people, but LGBTQ+ issues more widely.


Do you have any advice to early career journalists? Maybe something you wish you'd been told but weren't?

Don't be put off by what you think this industry is. I was lucky in that I was quite academic and enjoyed school and the academic route into things. But that doesn't work for everyone and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Our team is very reflective of that. 

We've got people with degrees, without degrees, apprenticeships, people who went straight in, and we're all doing the same job. There's huge value in having a newsroom that is like that. 

I'd say, if you're a young journalist thinking, ‘I've not got this, I've not got that’, then reach out to careers advisors - or drop someone a message on Twitter or on Instagram. All of our Instagram pages are open - get advice for what you could do next.

Look out for the schemes and the entry level schemes and just go for it, throw yourself out there. Don't let ‘I've not got this degree or this qualification’ hold you back because if you've got an eye for a story, if you've got an interesting perspective on the world, then you're really, really valuable to newsrooms, and the rest can come afterwards. You can be taught anything at that point.


Finally, what motivates you in this career? What keeps you going?

With my social media journalism hat on specifically, particularly now, I’m motivated by that sense of duty to deliver fair, accurate, responsible reporting from a personal perspective, especially around LGBT+ issues. 

More widely, it is just the Wild West on all of these platforms. It's a real motivator to know that we're still a growing source of reliable, accurate news for people. Especially as we go into an election, into this age of AI and misinformation and disinformation, that's only ever going to get more and more important. Having had positive feedback from younger people, that’s really heartening. You think, alright, among all of that stuff that's out there, you saw ITV News with all its checks and balances.

About Natalie Beale

Natalie is a Senior Editor for Cision, based in London. In addition to interviewing journalists and media industry experts, she manages the US and UK Media Moves newsletters, which showcase the latest journalist news and moves.