The Knoxville Social Media Summit for Winter 2010 on Wednesday was the highlight of my work week for a couple of reasons.

First, I was impressed by the number and variety of Knoxville-area professionals (at least 200) who attended the event, which was sponsored by the Knoxville Social Media Association and the Social Media Club of Knoxville.

But mainly I was impressed by the expertise of the panelists who candidly shared their thoughts about social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and how they’re using them.

Panelists included Scott Daniel of Bush’s Baked Beans, Lynsay Caylor of Pilot Travel Centers, and UT professor Glenn Reynolds, who publishes Instapundit.com, one of the nation’s most successful blogs.

Reynolds participated in a lively discussion centered on the theme: “Journalism and Social Media: Breaking Down Barriers or Crossing the Line.”

“Reporting hard news is the ‘killer app’ for newspapers,” he noted, suggesting that newspaper execs should instruct their reporters–even in an era of declining circulation–to focus on what they do best.

But there’s no denying that social media have changed the landscape of journalism.

“Twitter is an amazing news gathering source,” said Mark Schaefer of Freesource Inc. and Schaefer Marketing. “The role of Twitter and journalism is amazing and inevitable.”

Veteran broadcaster Dave Foulk of WNOX-FM (Newstalk 100.3) isn’t afraid of competition from social media and the fact that they give virtually anyone (even untrained journalists) the opportunity to “break” a news story.

“Competition between all media breeds excellence,” Foulk said.

UT journalism professor Jim Stovall also noted that social media have changed the old meaning of deadlines. “Deadlines don’t mean the same thing anymore,” he said. “(What’s needed today are) trained journalists who can write faster than ever.”

And, if I may add, in a variety of both traditional and social media platforms!

Darrin Devault, UT Professional & Personal Development

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