By Daisy Coyne
Madison Dapcevich is a science reporter with Lead Stories, a fact-checking website that searches the internet for posts that contain false or misleading pictures or information, who has been using social media throughout her career for a diverse list of publications and projects. She started using social media about 20 years ago as a way to personally connect with people. But, as social media has grown and changed throughout the past few years, so has Dapcevich’s relationship with it. She has created and posted Instagram reels during her time as a Digital Content Coordinator at Nautilus Live, an ocean exploration trust, while doing deep-sea research and is now a science reporter for Lead Stories where she fact-checks social media posts for accuracy and falsehoods.
Dapcevich has created an online presence for herself on many social media platforms, both for personal and professional use. Dapcevich has about 1,300 followers on Twitter with a blue check mark next to her name and has about 4,500 followers on Instagram. In an email interview with UM Journalism student Daisy Coyne, Dapcevich answers some questions about her work. Below is a transcript of their conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: How has social media impacted your career?
A: Social media has impacted my career on a variety of levels, but I will speak to how it influences my current role. I currently serve as a science reporter with Lead Stories, one of the independent fact-checking agencies that Facebook, and other social media companies rely on to document falsehoods online.
Social media has allowed for mis- and disinformation to thrive online and has further siloed already polarizing political ideologies. For all the positive aspects of social media — the dissemination and accessibility of information, among them — there is an equal amount of harm being done by nefarious actors who share, either intentionally or unknowingly, false information.
My role is to fact-check social media posts for their accuracy and to flag posts that lack context and nuance or are blatantly wrong. In short, my current role requires that I be immersed in social media.
Q: Do you have a personal set of guidelines you follow when you post on any social media?
A:: Absolutely. When posting to social media, I have two rules of thumb. First, does this content adhere to journalism ethics established by the Society of Professional Journalists? This means that the content does not advocate for a specific cause and remains objective and non-biased.
Secondly, is the post something that I would feel comfortable with a current or future employer seeing? I am connected on social media with many colleagues and former managers or employers. As such, it is important that my content reflects who I am as an individual and maintains the professionalism expected of me.
Q: Does being a journalist make you view or use your personal social media differently?
A:: Yes. Being a journalist requires that we practice being apolitical and refrain from advocating for or against issues. Rather, our role is to simply put forth factual and accurate information.
While I use social media to share my personal experiences and professional accomplishments, I also am cognizant of the content that I publish. Again, I steer clear from posting anything that may be seen as subjective or biased.
Q: How has your career changed with the rise of social media over the years?
A:: I started using social media in high school nearly 20 years ago. (You guessed it: MySpace.) I have grown both personally and professionally alongside social media. Facebook went from being a platform specific to college students to one of the most-used platforms in the world.
In short, I went from being a teenager playing on early social media platforms to being an adult who now fact-checks the authenticity and accuracy of posts online.
Daisy Coyne is a junior at the University of Montana in the Journalism school. She grew up in a rural ranching community which led her to develop a passion for environmental journalism. Coyne is a student in the UM School of Journalism’s Social Media and Engagement class, which conducted Q&As this semester with journalists as part of a research project on best practices for journalists on social media. See more of the Q&As here.