By Erica Staat

Maria Anderson via Facebook

Maria Anderson is a UM J-School alum who joined the ABC/FOX Wake Up Montana team in December 2020. She has a history in broadcast journalism and worked as a traveling development consultant in higher education prior to joining Wake Up Montana. Current student Erica Staat recently interviewed Anderson over email. The following is a transcript of the conversation, edited lightly for clarity and length.

Q: How do you think social media has affected the way audiences consume news? What are the pros and cons of news on social media?

A: News is a lot more accessible, so you’re able to get information more quickly. However, you’re also able to ‘pick and choose’ more about the news you consume. So, you can search for news or information that supports your beliefs more easily. Social media creates quantity over quality when it comes to news. Anybody can become a journalist. 

Q: How big of a role does social media play in your job? How/when/why/where do you use it?

A: Social media is one of the core responsibilities for my job. My stories are posted daily to our news Facebook pages. I use Twitter for breaking news and ‘on the ground’ coverage as events are happening, unfolding and I’m learning new information. 

Q: What is your favorite platform and what works best on that platform?

A: Facebook and Twitter are my go-tos. I use Facebook daily to post my stories. Twitter is my go-to for sharing updates and developments in breaking news. 

Q: Do you consider your social media pages to be publications for Wake Up Montana, or are they more for promoting your individual work?

A: The ABC Fox Montana and KULR8 pages I post to are publications for Wake Up Montana. My Facebook page and Twitter is for promoting individual work. However, I am always representing the show. 

Q: What are the differences between maintaining social media for Wake Up Montana and maintaining social media for personal/private business use?

A: Posts for Wake Up Montana are more third-person or detached as an author, if that makes sense. My personal social media is an opportunity for me to share my work, with more of my commentary/personality. 

Q: How do you measure success on social media?

A: I measure success by the number of engagements and reactions. 

Q: Have you ever made a mistake on social media and if so, how did you handle it?

A: A specific example doesn’t come to mind, however, I would acknowledge I made that mistake and update [the post] with the correction. It’s important to acknowledge there was a mistake, rather than just edit and have it disappear. 

Q: How do you keep up with what’s popular on social media to ensure your posts are trendy and up-to-date?

A: I work on engaging with my audience, asking questions and gathering their input. I spend time learning new platforms like TikTok and look at others in the industry for inspiration. 

Q: Is a story more likely to be pursued if the subject matter is already trending on social media?

A: Yes. 

Erica Staat is a student in the UM School of Journalism’s Social Media and Engagement class, which conducted Q&As this semester with more than 20 journalists as part of a research project on best practices for journalists on social media.

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