CARTER: Offer professional social media guidelines for staff

Providing social media training for staff members would increase visibility and legitimacy

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Staff members could benefit from training on how to create and maintain a professional social media presence. | Courtesy: Quote Catalog

Since the events of Aug. 11 and 12, The Cavalier Daily’s news reporting has garnered a new tone and importance on Grounds and in the Charlottesville community. With the torch-lit march and rally making national news headlines, our local newspaper’s role became one of on-the-ground documentation, providing a meaningful perspective that helped contextualized the events for readers. Where this paper had formerly been important only to the Charlottesville and University communities, it is now on the radar of a wide national audience.

As a result of their reporting on the events of last August, several staff members have accrued a following on social media. Editor-in-Chief Tim Dodson currently tweets to over 2,000 followers on Twitter, sharing information about both local and national events. Assistant Managing Editor  Alexis Gravely also gained online visibility because of the real-time information she shared as the events transpired in Charlottesville. While the newspaper itself has a digital presence on Facebook and Twitter to share articles, photos and videos, staff members like Dodson also affiliate themselves with The Cavalier Daily through their individual accounts.

Because of the increased attention The Cavalier Daily and its staff members are receiving, and because staff members are using professional accounts to affiliate themselves with the newspaper online, staff members could benefit from training on how to create and maintain a professional social media presence.

The newspaper’s leadership does not influence the personal or professional social media accounts of staff members outside of rules pertaining to staff participation in student elections. However, training could provide a set of suggested guidelines to both promote the individual staff member as a legitimate journalist and ensure the newspaper is presenting itself well as a reputable news organization. 

For example, professional reporters on Twitter often specify their retweets do not qualify as social, political or economic endorsements. Without this specification, a Cavalier Daily staff member could be misunderstood as taking a stance and compromising the objectivity of their reporting. Learning these common practices would protect both the individual and the newspaper. 

This training would also benefit individual reporters by helping them build a readership and communicate their journalistic voice more pointedly than they could if their pieces were only being shared on the newspaper’s general social media pages. These reporters could then serve as a gateway for their individual audiences to engage more with the newspaper’s content as a whole, increasing the paper’s visibility and readership as a result.

Social media training for Cavalier Daily staff members could take many forms depending on the specific needs of each section, but a set of guidelines at the very least would contribute to the success of both the individual journalists and the paper as a whole. As print media moves further into the digital world, this knowledge would be invaluable to The Cavalier Daily.

Candace Carter is the Public Editor for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at publiceditor@cavalierdaily.com. 

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