(Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Newman)
Kaitlin Newman is a 24-year-old graduate from Towson University. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and new media from Towson and is currently working on her master’s degree in professional writing. She is currently freelancing for the Baltimore Sun. She also has her own website http://www.kaitlinnewman.com. Contributing a lot of her success to her use of social media, I asked Kaitlin a few questions about her use of social media and its influence on her work.
Q: What social media outlets do you use?
A: WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr
Q:As a journalist, in what ways do you use social media?
A: Mainly to promote my own work, both personal and business. I also use it to find viable sources and idea inspiration as well as story leads.
Q: How does social media connect you to your audience?
A: I feel that it gives them a face to put with the byline. So often we see bylines but have no idea about the person who wrote the story or took the photo. Social media allows me to answer questions and show people behind the scenes access that I get while on assignment, especially music festival and concert assignments. It also allows me to show people more to the stories I write than the 500-1000 allotted words that are published. It also allows me to answer questions people may want to ask.
Q: How has social media helped you as a journalist?
A: It’s definitely allowed me to get my name out there. I started my blog for a class, digital publishing, and I posted it all over social media along with my photo work. A woman who managed the Baltimore Sun’s social media saw my stuff (much in the way that I now look for stories on social media) and emailed me to ask if I would be interested in an “artist spotlight” in the paper. This led to me getting a really competitive photo internship there and now I have a contract with them where I freelance on a weekly basis, mostly arts and entertainment and whenever they decide to greenlight my pitches. It’s also helped me in getting other journalism skill related work like corporate writing, photography and production and design. I’d go as far as to say that I owe the entire foundation of being self employed at twenty-four years old to social media and the power it has given me in terms of reaching my audience.
Q: Has social media ever affected you in a negative way?
A: There’s always cons. The more people that like you and follow you the more people that will hate you. When I won the Mobbie Award (Maryland Outstanding Blog) for Best Photo Blog this past November the Internet, mainly Tumblr, exploded with people saying that I didn’t deserve it, my work wasn’t special, etc. I knew none of these people personally but it does get hurtful when it comes in droves. I’ve gotten good at ignoring it but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get under my skin sometimes, especially when it’s something I’m proud of. There’s a reason a lot of journalists tell you not to read the comment sections of your stuff! You just have to brush it off and keep on focusing on you and your goals. Some of the greatest journalists have the worst trolls!
Q: As a journalist, what is the most effective way to use social media?
A: Daily updates that are factually correct. Make sure people keep you as their go-to source for when things happen, especially when it deals with your niche beat. You always want to stay informed and relevant. I like to mix my posts with personal behind the scenes stuff to published coverage. It makes followers feel like they know you and makes you relatable but also a trusted source on what’s happening. Use it to find ideas and inspiration for stories. People post a lot of personal stuff on social media and it might give you the idea for a bigger story.
Q: How have things changed for you as a journalist as social media has grown in popularity?
A: When I first started my undergrad, I was concentrating only on the writing part. When I graduated I could do photography, write, design, video, audio basically I became a one woman news show due to blogging.
It’s important to say that the industry as a whole has definitely gotten more competitive because of it. With the rise of self-published blogs many news outlets are now sourcing their content from citizens and not trained journalists. The whole concept of “why don’t I just make my own publication?” has never been stronger. Journalism is definitely in a state of transition; when news breaks people need it NOW not in tomorrow’s paper. It seems to me that “news” is whoever can break a story first, not complete it. That’s a reason why we see so many variations and error in reports. In short, because of social media and multimedia journalism, journalists have to know all the skills, not just specialize in one.
Q: What advice would you give to future journalist using social media?
A: Utilize it, it is your most powerful tool. Never before in history has the average college journalist been able to reach so many people at once – it is the true definition of mass communication. You can build yourself before you even graduate if you do it right. Utilize all platforms and upload slightly different content onto each one so people visit them all. Also, hashtagging. Use it!