By Cara Shepard

Katie Rohman is the current managing editor at the Duluth News Tribune, in Duluth, Minnesota. Before beginning her journalism career, Rohman studied mass communications and print journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Throughout her career she has worked for several Minnesota news organizations including Park Rapids Enterprise and the Austin Daily Herald, along with organizations in North Dakota, Nebraska and Michigan. Rohman has been with Duluth News Tribune since 2019. Her experience includes reporting, website content management, social networking, photography and staff management.

In a time where social media is becoming important for not only reporting, but also spreading information and connecting with communities, Rohman has some tips on how to start the social media process and how to remain professional on a relatively informal platform. Rohman recently answered questions about all of this from University of Montana student Cara Shepard over email. Below is a transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity and length.

Q: When promoting a story on social media, how do you decide the specific platform and voice to use?

A: We use Instagram if it’s visually interesting and has multiple photos. We use Twitter for most stories we post. We use Facebook more sparingly than in the past. We often choose to leave short stories and news release-type content off Facebook because it’s not unique to our publication. Facebook is not beneficial to most media organizations due to its algorithm. We also don’t want to encourage or foster an environment where false information and unconstructive, hateful comments are allowed, so we often avoid posting stories to Facebook that involve sensitive topics, like sexual assault. In terms of voice, it depends on the content. Our marketing-related posts are often first-person.

Q: What guidelines or routines do you have before posting a story or other content on social media?

A: We use SocialFlow, an optimization platform, to schedule and optimize posts. We usually rewrite the “teaser” for Facebook so it’s not just the headline, which is repetitive. 

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

A: Depends on the mistake. If it’s a typo, we change it as soon as possible.  

Q: How do you avoid personal opinions showing through in stories of controversial topics? How do you make sure that you cover all sides of an issue?

A: Reporters have to be trained on what biased reporting looks like. We contact multiple sources and do a thorough job to ensure they have the opportunity to provide comment. 

Q: How do you maintain professionalism on both personal and professional social media accounts?

A: I personally keep my private social media posts to a minimum unless they are photos or retweets. On our professional accounts, we don’t offer our opinions or post anything that’s rumor or unsourced. 

Cara Shepard 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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