Ashley Washburn is a multimedia journalist working as sports reporter and anchor at the Montana Television Network, which is a network of CBS affiliates with local stations in just about every major city in Montana. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Diego State University in May 2019. During her time in San Diego she covered her university’s athletic department. Later she interned with ESPN and worked as a morning news producer for NBC 7 San Diego.
UM Journalism student Meghan Fatouros interviewed Washburn about her ideas on best practices on social media. What follows in a transcript of their conversation, edited slightly for clarity and brevity.
Q: How do you decide what is beneficial to post and what is not? How does this pertain to sports journalism?
A: If there is one thing about this industry, it’s that building relationships are more important sometimes than being the first to break a story. This more pertains to sports, but I always weigh the situation and I’m definitely careful with putting information out there about college athletes. I also try not to post anything (breaking news wise) unless I have the information confirmed by two different sources and I feel 100% confident about the information that was given to me. If there is any type of uncertainty, it’s an automatic no because I don’t want to get into a situation where I was wrong or say something incorrect that backlashes and hurts my credibility.
Q: Has there ever been a moment you chose to delete something or backtrack?
A: Going back to my first answer, there isn’t a moment I can think of currently mainly because of that checklist I just stated. Having several sources is always important, and you need to feel 100% confident about what you are putting out there. If there is any sense of doubt, try to find more information or put it on the back burner until you are certain.
Q: What is the best way to “sell” yourself over social media to give your audience a good understanding of your authentic and professional self?
A: That’s a really great question, and I think that is something I am still trying to get better at myself. Most of my social media is all about sports, so when it’s appropriate or relevant I try to show other pieces of my life that give an audience a better understanding of who I am outside of sports. I often show my dog or the cooking that I do because it’s an easy way to connect with people that are interested in other things and build relationships.
Q:Who inspires you on social media?
A: Absolutely Mina Kimes. She is so knowledgeable about sports, but she is someone who clearly shows her personality through social media which makes her stand out.
Meghan Fatouros 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.