About the Author: Matthew Buffington serves as the Media Relations Officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
On a Foreign Press Center (FPC) social media tour with 29 foreign journalists, Achilles Peklaris took on Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. Armed with only his iPhone, the "Village Voice of Athens," as Achilles is sometimes known, directed hard-hitting, poignant questions at U.S. government officials from the State Department, White House and Congress.
However, something funny happened in San Francisco. During a meeting with Facebook, Achilles' questions turned from blunt journalism to a testimonial about how the social media website Facebook changed his work. Not to say that our hosts at Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter did not have to field tough questions, but it was clear that social media has changed how these journalists operate.
Notepads and pens were few and far between on the tour; instead, they were replaced by an impromptu computer lab full of laptops, webcams and smart phones. Of the numerous stories filed during the tour, most can be found on blogs, YouTube and Facebook, as well as on standard newspaper websites and in physical newspapers.
Whether it is the green opposition using Twitter to distribute information about the Iranian elections or loved ones reconnecting through Facebook in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, social media has enabled individuals to both gather information and disseminate information that was not possible a few years ago. The FPC social media tour explored this phenomenon as a reporting tool for journalists.