By Ridley Hudson
Antonio Ibarra is the Multimedia Editor for the Montana Kaimin at the University of Montana. Last summer, he interned with the Missoulian and has been studying photojournalism since he was 19. UM student Ridley Hudson, who works with Ibarra at the Kaimin as a photographer, recently interviewed Ibarra about his experience with social media as a photojournalist and how he maintains engagement with his work while keeping a journalistic tone. Below is a transcript of their discussion.
Q: What voice/tone do you aim to have as a photojournalist with a social media presence?
A: I try to cover moments in their raw format and in the most fair way possible. I try to incorporate emotion, diversity and inclusion in most of my coverage as events unfold. Due to the heavy social media presence that we’re currently in, I strive to include accurate and verifiable information about the context of the event whenever I write my captions.
Q: When you notice a mistake, what’s the best way to correct it, in your opinion?
A: I do my best to fact check the information before adding it to the post. After fact-checking, I make an update to the post and make a note on the side stating the fact.
Q: What strategies do you follow to build your social media presence in the journalism atmosphere on social media?
A: I follow other photojournalists around the state and the U.S. and interact with them online by sharing their work. Whenever you share someone’s work, it encourages them to also do the same for you, so your work gets more eyes on it. I also try to incorporate more hashtags in the comments so the post can reach a larger audience. In the caption I also tag the official accounts of institutions and organizations that I’m referencing. This prompts them to actually see the post and encourages them to share it with their followers.
Q: How do you keep a neutral journalistic tone on social media?
A: I simply just state the facts and write in a journalistic voice without accusing or causing harm to anybody. I try to stay away from comments that are inflammatory or controversial, but if someone is spreading false information, I do my best to confront that by providing accurate information.
Q: What’s the best practice you’ve found while sharing your work on social media?
A: I like to interact with those who share my work. I think having a connection with my followers builds a stronger audience. I like to personally thank people who I see share, acknowledge and credit my work.
Q: How do you deal with negative comments and people disagreeing with what you post, if at all?
A: I just stick to the facts and confront false information in the most journalistic way possible. I try to have some sort of dialogue with people and try to present the facts that prove their comments wrong. On the other hand, I mostly try to stay away from controversial comments, but when I see a comment that’s just blatantly offensive, violent and/or harmful, I report it and block it.
Ridley Hudson 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.