Social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Buzzfeed and Mashable have become vehicles for news coverage as well as lively debates and many other services, their editors told a New York University audience of 250 on June 11.

The digital platforms are changing the way users find out about news and information, express opinions, and promote themselves, SM editors told the session at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies' Center for Publishing. The editors said their sites now rival traditional media in making an impact on the public.

NYU panel
L-R: Jessi Hempel, senior writer, Fortune; Andrew Fitzgerald of Twitter's news team; Daniel Roth, executive editor, LinkedIn;  Shani Hilton, deputy editor-in-chief, Buzzfeed, and Jim Roberts, chief content officer, Mashable.
Images: NYU Photo Bureau/Dan Creighton

Jim Roberts, chief content editor of SM news site Mashable, said SM continue to perform the function of monitoring other media. "For publishers, that is a lifeline to us," he said.

Shani Hilton, deputy editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed, said the site was founded to discover and cover what people want. "We figure out what is trending and share it with that audience," she said of the site, which blends, news, opinion and clickbait articles and lists. 

Daniel Roth, executive editor of the business-oriented social network LinkedIn, said he left Fortune magazine for LinkedIn in 2011 because he saw the “enormous potential” of LinkedIn. Besides sharing their professional profiles on LinkedIn, people can also write their own original content, he said, finding their own audiences. 

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Attendees at the NYU event.

"In these niches, they may only get 5,000 views, but it is the right kind of views and they are thrilled with it," he said.

Andrew Fitzgerald of Twitter's news team said media have to learn what technologies work best for them and must also realize that technologies are constantly changing.