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5 Things You Should Know to Consuming News on the Social Media: Interview With Luca Scarcella

Social networking has inevitably redefined news consumption. On a side we have to find a balance between newspapers’ needs and the rush on these platforms, and on the other side we have to recognise how toxic news can be for people online

Luca Scarcella, 29 years old, grew up fascinated by music, art, and stories of success, but he was a quiet and solitary kid. Once painfully introverted, was always a bit different to other children. At the age of 14, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s, on the autism spectrum: «Being different is a gift – he says -. It makes me see things from outside the box».

Today, Scarcella is a freelance journalist and social media expert, working for La Stampa, one of the major newspapers in Italy, and as a consultant for other brands. For sure, one of the most influential under 30 in publishing field right now, capable to merge effectively new technologies, social media and journalism.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your story with us. First of all: how did you get here?

Luca: A curious pattern, actually. I was born in a little town near the city of Turin, one of Italy’s first cities with over two thousands years of history (and also the first Italy’s capital, from 1861 to 1865). In fact, I believe it was the environment of a city like Turin, where tradition and nostalgia has such a commanding presence that made ​​me aware that the past should be seen as something not to be revived, but something to be overcome. Hence my interest in future trends and innovation. But I am made of music and art: i started to play the piano when I was 11, and I graduated in Conservatory in 2011. I used to work like music composer for TV and commercials, until I changed my path, studying sociology, politics and communication, and starting to write for a local newspaper, in 2010. Then I’ve paid my dues, working hard, trying to improve myself a bit everyday, and also taking time to get bored, in order to think about new ideas and projects.

To get bored?

Luca: Yes, I think that boredom – I mean, really do nothing – is necessary to recover your mind and think better. Usually, I take at least one hour every day to stop doing whatever I’m doing, to turn off myself. On this time of the “always connected”, get bored is became so underrated. It’s a shame.

Tell me about your job: you currently work as a freelance journalist and as social media manager. What do these positions have in common?

Luca:  First of all: sociology. Studying sociology had and has a huge impact on my way to think, to work, to live. Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. I use sociology’s methods of investigation in journalism, and in social media management as well. Understand people’s behavior is the first step to understand their needs in a specific environment, also if it is an online environment. Second of all: trust. As a reporter and a social media manager, build trust with readers and users is the most important thing that you can do. In order to do that, you have to do your work with ethic and competence. If people trust you, you can bring this trust with you, also when the work, the platforms and tools will change. Who knows, maybe tomorrow Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will do not exist anymore, and you know what? You are not a social media manager anymore. But people will continue to be there, seeking news, information, connections, relations, professionals and journalists who can they rely on.

Today social media are mostly used by Millennials and Generation Z: what are the differences between these two types of public on the news consumption?

Luca: I think that this distinction is not so cleanly. Reminds me the generalizations about the years of beginning and ending of an era. Can you imagine Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence get to the square and scream “Ok guys, Medieval is over and now we are in the Renaissance”? No way, is always there a period of transition. So the differences in the consumption of contents and news depend from many factors, and not just by the birth year. Today we have more input sources, that means less time and the increase of FOMO, the fear of missing out something that is happening online. From here the success of formats like Instagram Stories, short videos, and reactions on Facebook and LinkedIn posts. You have to say something to your followers and friends, and you have to do it quickly. As with breaking news: but journalism is not just breaking news, it’s much more. And if you want to understand what happen, about a fact, you have to take the time to read, to go deep, to find sources and differents points of view. Also to verify that you are not reading a fake news. Both Gen Zers and Millennials use social media, but they use it very differently. Millennials are profound publishers of online content (daughters and sons of the “blogs era”); Gen Zers prefers social media apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp over Twitter and Facebook, with their “disappearing contents”. A 2018 survey by Pew Research revealed that 45% of Gen Zers were online “almost constantly”. So, for a publisher would be better to consider to be where Gen Zers are, because they are the readers of the present and of the imminent future.

How social media are redefining journalism and reshaping news?

Luca: Social networking has inevitably redefined news consumption. On a side we have to find a balance between newspapers’ needs and the rush on these platforms, and on the other side we have to recognise how toxic news can be for people online. Social media are not just delivery platforms, but also technologies that allowed newspapers and magazines to discover, verify and monetise. People on social media need to recognise the professionals who gives them information, to build trust. Because of that, I think that nowadays journalists have to put more effort on social media, willing to throw in and show their faces, to reply and explain the complexity of the facts and reality.

Tell us 5 suggestions to be aware about consuming news on the social media.

  1. Always check the source of the news and contents. Read carefully the name of the publishers, and of the pages or accounts that shares these contents.
  2. Fact-check and verify the news with simple tools. For example, being sure that the photo of the article that you are reading is truly referred to it: download the photo and make an inverse research with tools like TinEye or Yandex.
  3. Keep in mind that a “viral” content, like a meme, could be a fake news. Remember that social media are not gatekeepers like journalists and newspapers: the gate of the social media is always open. If you see and read something with hate speech, or racist, or homophobic, report it to the social media and the police.
  4. Start to looking for trusted social media accounts (newspapers, journalists, influencers) that share news and quality contents. Then you can became the trusted social media account for your family and friends, doing content curation for them.
  5. Don’t be a FOMO victim: join the JOMO (joy of missing out), turn off your social media apps, buy a newspaper and read it. It’s an amazing (and sexy) thing to do, I can assure you.

Before finish this interview: what is your favourite song?

Luca: I have many. But I wanna choose one that is not musically my favourite, but was the first song that a person that I deeply love dedicated to me. Sinnerman by Nina Simone.

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