Lessons from the Field: Alexandra Chang

From time to time this semester, we’ll have guest speakers come in to talk to us about social media in their beat. Today, Alexandra Chang came in to talk to us about how tech journalists use social media; though she works as a freelancer here in Ithaca, she was a staff writer for Wired in San Francisco. We only had 50 minutes for class minus some technical difficulties at the beginning, but she gave us a lot of good pointers and different perspectives on how to utilize social media in the field of journalism. Here are ten that I found to be of particular importance:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes on social media per day. This gives you time to interact with other journalists as well as thought leaders in the field and the audience.
  • On Twitter, professional and personal are often inseparable (part of your job is to engage readers), but employers do look at your profiles, so make sure they’re clean.
  • There are a range of approaches to Twitter, from more conservative to very prolific. It’s all about being comfortable with yourself, your style, and your beat so people can get to know who you are, which gets into the branding side of things.
  • Don’t get too wrapped up in the ration of following you to you following: the more people you follow, the more noise you’ll have to sift through.
  • Related to the sifting, lists provide a great way to show who is actively tweeting and worth keeping. They also allow you to “follow” people without officially following them.
  • Online publications and publications with an online portion usually expect their writers to be their unofficial photographers and videographers as well, but at the same time, the expectations for a writer aren’t to be a top-notch camera guru.
  • Third-party apps can be very useful for taking higher-quality pictures, including pre-photo settings and post-photo editing; Alexandra mentioned Camera Awesome and Snapseed.
  • LinkedIn isn’t just for posting your resume or finding jobs. You can use it to find non-local sources and even predict story ideas based on what kinds of positions big-name companies are looking to hire for.
  • LinkedIn also has a group called LinkedIn for Journalists that provides 30-minute webinars on how to utilize the site for sourcing and such.
  • And finally, this wasn’t a tip, but Wired covered the Consumer Electronics Show in January with only mobile devices, which is pretty cool.

What do you think of the compilation? Any other things I should acknowledge as a web-born journalist?


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