Durhams talks digital

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's, Sharif Durhams, the social media editor came by Marquette University's Journalism 4953 class Thursday, Feb. 16 to discuss the importance blogging and social media plays in elections and politics. After discussing the role the Journal Sentinel played in last years Madison  protests and looking at how current GOP candidates use their accounts we moved on to how branding plays a role in a journalists career. 

One of the questions asked was whether being a part of a big media market made it more difficult for journalists to brand themselves. For those working for companies like the New York TimesNational Public RadioCNN or ESPN the question is whether or not those journalists are branding themselves or their organization when they use social media. 

My belief is that reporters should be able to keep their own social media profiles outside of company restrictions and labels. The idea should be that if a reporter can verify himself/herself and build an audience than it should reflect positively on the organization. But if the journalist has to constantly hide behind the veil of the organizations name it is hard to build that following and readership. 

Links on websites will bring readers to the organizations social media profiles, but in order to find an individual writer some searching is required. On NPR, unless you look at the very top bar it is difficult to find individual twitter sites, and there are only three personal handles listed. 

When asked if there was any specialization in social media among writers and citizen journalists Durhams made the point that, "so much is changing so quickly" and the main specialization has been in technology. In a digital age this makes sense. Specialization is great but it is almost non-existent anymore. "If we are the first to have the information people will come back," Durham said. And that's all any social media aficionado can hope for – branding themselves efficiently so information seekers will come knocking. 

Erin CaugheyComment