By Doug Haddix

Social media tools give journalists unprecedented power to connect with sources, background people and organizations; fish for story ideas;  and monitor discussions on various topics. As with any source of information, social media posts must be verified for accuracy before being used in a story.

Reporters who cover national security and military issues face challenges of secrecy beyond traditional beats such as courts and City Hall. Social media tools cannot eliminate the challenge but often speed up the reporting and open alternative channels of information.

Military personnel now have access on their computers to the most popular social media sites, following a reversal of a Pentagon ban. Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News detailed the change in a National Security Zone how-to guide on military reporting.

In fact, the Pentagon has embraced social media. The Defense Department has a social media directory with links to hundreds of social media sites for all branches of the military, individual units, specific bases and key leaders.

DOD social media front page.

In addition to defense sites on Facebook and Twitter, the directory has links to other Pentagon sites on Flickr, UStream and YouTube. The one-stop-shopping page also has links to subscribe to Pentagon RSS feeds, podcasts and email alerts.

Here are a few particularly helpful links:

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