Journalists On Social Media: Q&A with Newsy’s Maritsa Georgiou

By Katy McCumber

Maritsa Georgiou, a 37-year-old broadcast journalist, spent 15 years at NBC Montana before moving to the national market as a correspondent for Newsy, a multi-platform news channel often watched on streaming services. An alum of the University of Montana School of Journalism, Georgiou has covered COVID-19, politics and wildfire coverage while working for NBC Montana. Additionally, she won the 2021 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism. The Cronkite Award is given every two years to “shine a spotlight on journalism that seeks truth, examines inequities, serves the public, and demonstrates the indispensability of a free and trustworthy press.”  The judges highlighted her investigation into the planned removal of USPS blue collection boxes before the 2020 election. With nearly 12,000 followers on Twitter and 2,400 followers on Facebook, Georgiou boasts a large audience on both social media and as a news anchor.

UM Journalism student Katy McCumber recently chatted with Maritsa about her work while Maritsa was covering hurricane Ian in Florida and they specifically talked about how she uses social media as a journalist. Below is a transcript of their conversation, edited slightly for brevity.

Q: Let’s start with the big question: what’s the biggest challenge on social media in your job as a broadcast journalist?

A: Definitely the nastiness and hatred that circulates online. In the last six years, if you go to any news I’ve posted on Twitter or Facebook that gets a lot of comments and traction, there aren’t many stories that don’t turn political and nasty. Most posts take a turn for the worst. The things you would think of being a totally benign story, that there’s no way they could make political, and all of a sudden, someone’s fighting in the comments. It’s wild.

Q: What are some of the journalistic guidelines you follow within your own work on social media?

A: Well, the one thing is, I really try not to inject my opinion wherever I can. The whole point is to put posts out there and let the audience make their own opinions and judgements. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t spell some things out for people, like, you know, follow the trail, this is interesting and here’s why, or here’s the course that this took. That’s my number one rule. My number two rule is to really, really, really, double check everything before I post it. With the nastiness on social media, there is nothing worse than making a mistake, because you become fresh meat. But if you do make a mistake, acknowledge it, correct it, apologize, and move on.

Q: For sure. Could you give me an example of a mistake you’ve made on social media?

A: Oh, when I first started covering COVID, I inverted a number once on the number of cases in a certain area. Those numbers are super important- if you get it wrong, that totally changes what you’re trying to report.

Q: Does being a journalist make you use your social media differently?

A: Definitely. There are things I post on my personal Facebook that’s private for only my friends and family that I would never post on my public accounts. For instance, my kid. In recent years especially, when I’ve seen hatred against journalists grow more, I’m really protective of my son, and I don’t want to make him the target of anything. Also, on my personal page, I don’t post political things. Often, the things people use social media for, I don’t, because I have a responsibility to keep my personal opinions out of things. I can get personal on my private stuff, but I don’t get political, because that’ll kill you.

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Journalists On Social Media: Q&A with Madison Dapcevich

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.

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Social Media Best Practices: Q& A with Nate Schoenfelder of the Montana Free Press

By Tyler Johnson

Nate Schoenfelder is the director of audience engagement at the Montana Free Press. Schoenfelder specializes in marketing and communications. Schoenfelder is from Idaho and, prior to serving as the director of audience engagement at the Montana Free Press, was on the leadership team of a software company called Pingman Tools as their marketing communications manager.

Montana Free Press is present on various social media platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their largest following is on Twitter where they have about 9,000 followers. They remain active on all of their social media platforms. UM student Tyler Johnson interviewed Schoenfelder via email to get a deeper look into the Montana Free Press social media practices. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

Q: Are there any guidelines that you follow when generating a social media post and if so, what are they?
A: So, our post guidelines are not formalized, but our biggest north star is to always strive to provide value to a reader. While we often have audience and fundraising needs that we support through social media posting, we view all our social posts through the lens of our role as a news organization and our responsibility to provide information to the public and to offer a venue (flawed as it may be) for public discourse. Our posting is always done with an explicit goal in mind, be it to drive traffic to a story, generate newsletter signups, or solicit audience feedback.

Q: How many people do you have working on your social media team and what are some of the responsibilities?

We have a team of three who oversee our social accounts. As the Director of Audience Engagement, it is my responsibility to set higher-level goals and guide our social media strategy to achieve our objectives. At this point, I will rarely draft social posts. However, outside of our social posts promoting new reporting, I review and approve the content of our posts.

We have a marketing contractor who provides social media support, which includes drafting social posts and managing the day-to-day maintenance of the accounts.

Our Production Editor is responsible for drafting and scheduling all of our social posts for story promotion. Our publishing tools allow us to schedule posting directly from our content management system, so social post drafting is included in the story publication workflow.

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