Steve Buttry: Socializing the News Media

“Storytellers can tell their stories in different ways. Long narrative – or explanatory journalism – still has a place online.” –Steve Buttry

A household name amongst journalists worldwide, journalist Steve Buttry sits atop the social media ladder as the nation’s “go-to” guy on digitizing the newsroom and the marriage of journalism and social networking.

Buttry’s climb to the top of the proverbial ladder is nothing to scoff at. With over 40 years, and hundreds of thousands of hours of experience, Buttry has conducted trainings newsroom and journalist trainings in 44  states, nine Canadian provinces and six countries.

This map shows only some of the places Steve Buttry's training career has taken him. From 'Where in the World has Steve Buttry Worked?'

This map shows only some of the places Steve Buttry’s training career has taken him. From ‘Where in the World has Steve Buttry Worked?’

Buttry, 60, is the author of thousands of articles and training materials on digital journalism, newsroom transformation and the use of social media in the news. His lessons have been translated into at least eight languages, and have been studied by journalists, from students to industry executives, worldwide.

“The journalist has to recognize that there’s not one tool that fits every job, and sometimes in our experimentation in learning, we match up the wrong tools for the wrong job,” Buttry said on social media as a journalistic tool. “It might diminish those stories, but the experimentation and learning is good for journalism.”

Unprecedented Digital Guru

Master of Time Management: Despite a demanding career and countless professional achievements, Buttry still finds time for his family.

Ironically, the bulk of Buttry’s career occurred before the digital revolution, during a time devoid of personal computers, cell phones and the World Wide Web. From Staff Writer to Editor and everything in between, Steve has held positions with the Des Moines Register, Omaha World-Herald , and Kansas City Star.

“I wanted to get into journalism from the time I was in fourth or fifth grade,” Buttry recalled. “I used to listen to basketball games on my transistor radio and write sports stories about them, longhand, for a newspaper in which I was the Sports Editor, Publisher and only reader.”

It wasn’t until he accepted a position with American Press Institute in 2005, that he ever considered training as a career, digital media or otherwise.

“That was a time of a lot of transition in the newspaper business, and at API I was in the middle…of trying to figure out what newspapers should do with that,” Steve said. “It was my work at API that accelerated my digital learning and the transformation of my career that resulted in a strong digital focus.”

In 2011, Buttry accepted a job as the Director of Community Engagement & Social Media for Journal Register Co., which, at the time, was owned by Digital First Media in New York City. It was there that Buttry met multimedia journalist Dan Petty.

“Steve is very approachable, patient and understanding, [which is] incredibly important when teaching, especially to a generation of journalists who have often been resistant to change,” Petty recalled of his former co-worker. “He clearly loves what he does and cares very deeply about journalism and its future.” Petty is currently the Digital Director of Sports for The Denver Post.

As for the future of social media and its players? According to Buttry, not even an expert can predict who will sink and who will swim.

Steve is currently serving as Louisiana State University‘s inaugural Lamar Family Visiting Scholar, and is a communications professor at the university’s Manship School of Mass Communication

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