Suzi Steffen and I held an online panel titled “Extra! Extra! Tweet All About It” with professors and journalists on CoverItLive. Due to the number of participants (more than 200), the discussion was like “chat on steroids” as described by Kathy Gill of University of Washington. The drawback of using CoverItLive was that we couldn’t organize our discussion into separate threads, so keeping track of the path of each discussion topic was challenging.
I’ve taken excerpts from our transcript and organized it by threads. Below is an excerpt from one of the threads.
Tiffany Gallicano Q6: What is your advice for aspiring journalists with regard to Web 2.0?
Suzi Steffen: Ryan, you’re scaring me.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: Advice to aspiring reporters: Don’t post photos of yourself on Facebook holding a Mickey’s or Boone’s or whatever.
kathy: LOL! Ryan’s PSA re Facebook is spot on. 🙂
[Comment From Meghan Grall]
Ryan, good advice. Seems like it would be common sense… but apparently not.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: Twenty years from now, there will be naked photos of everyone on the Internet and we’ll all just yawn and move on. Until then, they will get you fired.
[Comment From Tyler] I think anyone that is “credible” in society should never put themselves in a situation for a picture of drugs or hard liquor.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: I think that reporters are now targets. You may not realize it, but people will search through your Facebook profile, your online life, etc., in order to “damage” your brand and discredit reporting that they disagree with. Even if you keep Facebook personal, you should post on there as though it were going out to every subscriber or viewer of your employer.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: Nothing is really protected on the Internet. Remember that.
Dora Valkanova: Yes, it is interesting because both Twitter and Facebook seem deceptively private when you are alone with your laptop but really, the whole world is watching (reading).
Ryan Teague Beckwith: Everyone is a celebrity now, in a sense. We’re all just waiting to be discovered. I think a lot of people don’t realize that they’re just a news story away from having their online life scoured and devoured.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: It’s not about “personal” and “professional” per se. It’s about your representations of them. I don’t really post “personal” things online, though I do occasionally reference the fact that I’m eating lunch at a certain place or working on my house. But it’s not really my personal feelings.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: As a journalist, you have set yourself up as a person with more credibility than the average person. You give up the rights to certain things, such as expressing your ill-thought-out opinions, when you do that. It’s like being a monk.
[Comment From digiphile] Answer to Tiffany’s question – register your name or (more likely) preferred nom de plume on relevant social media platforms ASAP. Get a Google voice account. Learn how to use a Flip camera. And choose a second major, like comp sci, science or the like. Niche is where it’s at.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: I second digiphile.
[Comment From Greg Miller] Related to the advantages of a “second major”: once you develop an area of expertise, try tweeting exclusively about that subject for a while. Try to build a reputation.
Mathew Ingram: At an event I was at recently, Andrew Keen (@ajkeen) said that journalists of all kinds should be thinking about how they can build their own “brand” in a specific area, and using social-media tools to do that — I think that’s a good point. You need to know how to use these tools at the very least.
[Comment From LydiaBreakfast] Agreed Mathew, @ajkeen’s self branding advice is prescient. We all need our own brands in addition to the one we carry from the publication(s) we contribute to.
Carrie Brown-Smith (@Brizzyc): Q6 Yes, be careful, but experiment with these new tools and don’t be afraid. Twitter is especially nice I think to help teach students a) what is news and b) how to write with brevity and wit.
[Comment From LydiaBreakfast] Journalism students would do well to establish relationships with seasoned editors and reporters from all over via SM. Not just for seeking work but to expand their professional community and find possible mentors.
[Comment From anblair2] I think Twitter has given a lot of young journalists the chance to meet new people. I never realized how many connections I could make.
Carrie Brown-Smith: Good point by Amber anblair2. I have to say I wish that when I was in school I had the chance to learn from so many professionals and connect with them via Twitter!
Ryan Teague Beckwith: More advice: Whenever you think of responding to an angry reader, write out what you would say, take a break, go get a cup of coffee, chat about the weather, come back and delete it. Then just answer the factual question or assertion they made and ignore the mean spirited attacks.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: Respond to them as though they had phrased it how you wished they had phrased it.
[Comment From Alicia] @Ryan Teague Beckwith – That’s good advice about responding to an angry reader. With new media technology it is often so easy to quickly respond to people that we don’t think things through clearly – which is one of the reasons there are so many posts at the end of news articles online that are simply rants.
Suzi Steffen: Ryan, that is SUCH great advice.
Ryan Teague Beckwith: Final words of advice to aspiring journalists: You are living in one of the most exciting times to be a young reporter in the history of journalism. Enjoy it.