Journalists on Social Media: Q&A with Maritsa Georgiou, Reporter for Newsy

By Max Bartley

Maritsa Georgiou. Courtesy photo.

Journalist Maritsa Georgiou started her career at NBC Montana in 2006 during her junior year at the University of Montana. She worked as an evening anchor for NBC Montana focused on politics, wildfire reporting, and special projects, primarily the Montana addiction epidemic.

Georgiou graduated from UM in 2007, earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. She currently covers Montana for Newsy, a national news network headquartered in Atlanta.

Her Twitter account, where she shares a broad range of topical journalism with focus on the pandemic and Montana, serves upward of 8,500 people and her Facebook and Instagram accounts bring her follower count to over 10,000.

Georgiou recently answered questions from UM student Max Bartley over email about her experience with the pandemic, social media, and journalism. Below is a transcript of their discussion. It has been edited slightly for clarity.

Q: Did you use social media differently during lockdown?

A: I had a lot more time to be active on social media because I was working from home and not anchoring, and people were desperate for information on COVID numbers, mandates and more. It became a really interactive tool for me to use while engaging with viewers.

Q: Did the pandemic lockdown have any noticeable effect on your job, your industry, and your visibility within your industry?

A: ABSOLUTELY. I never thought we could work in TV news from home or anchor a show from home, and we did. I was in shock when I first saw the Today anchors come on screen from their home studios. As far as visibility, it both increased and decreased depending on what lens you’re looking through. I went from anchoring three shows a night to producing short segments for those shows from home. My on-air time decreased, but my visibility in reporting stories that were shared across platforms increased.

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Journalists on Social Media: Q&A with Rachel Leathe, Photographer at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

By Nikki Zambon

Rachel Leathe. Courtesy photo.

Rachel Leathe developed a love for photography at a young age when her father taught her basic techniques. Her admiration for the craft deepened when she entered high school in Great Falls and had access to a dark room to develop photographs. She went on to study photojournalism at the University of Montana, where she received her degree in 2014.

She was hired by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2015 as a staff photographer and now works as Chief Visual Journalist. She also runs the Chronicle’s Instagram account with her co-worker, Sam Wilson. The Chronicle’s Instagram has 14,600 followers. The Chronicle’s other main platforms, Facebook and Twitter, have 52,207 followers and 20,800 followers, respectively.

Leathe recently answered J-School student Nikki Zambon’s questions over email and the following is a transcript of their conversation, edited slightly for clarity.

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Journalists on Social Media: Q&A with Ryan Divish, Mariners Beat Writer for the Seattle Times

by Payton Petersen

Ryan Divish. Courtesy photo.

Social media is hard for a journalist to avoid, especially a well-established one. Sportswriter, blogger and media personality Ryan Divish uses social media not only to promote his work, but also to post accurate news. 

Divish, who studied at the University of Montana, first began covering the Seattle Mariners in 2006 for the Tacoma News Tribune. He now covers the Mariners as a beat writer for the Seattle Times. In an email interview with UM student Payton Petersen, Divish explained how social media affects his job and how he has succeeded as a journalist. Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited lightly for clarity and length.

Q: How do you deal with negative comments on social media?

A: My thinking on this has evolved over the years. When I first got on social media, I would try to respond to everyone. I was using it as an avenue to build up readership and establish myself in the Seattle-Tacoma market. I felt that if I responded to all good and bad, it would give readers the sense that I’m truly interested in interacting and trying to provide information to their specific desires.

I would also use humor and self-deprecation as a method to defuse really angry responses. Nobody likes a preening, condescending schmo. And I wanted to make it very clear that I wasn’t trying to play any level of superiority.

I would also snipe back when I felt it was people being stupid or cruel or ignorant. I would use the quote tweet and fire back with better snark or sarcasm than they tried to use. It probably wasn’t very mature at times. But I’m also not a very mature person. Often those negative commenters would be taken aback or be upset. I would simply tell them. I was a smart-ass prick long before social media and I’m better at it than them.

But now, I find it too exhausting to respond. I will try to clarify if I feel it’s necessary. But usually I just let them yell into the raindrops of the Twittersphere. I don’t block many people because I would never give them the satisfaction of knowing or saying that I blocked them, but I will mute the hell out of them.

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