Last spring, there was obviously a lot of change going on. But, there were also things in our journalism world that stayed consistent. Picking the Editor in Chiefs for 2020-2021 was one of those things.
I had a lot of brilliant students applying for the top positions, and on a whim, I made one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while.
I decided to create an Editor in Chief team for social media. Our social media platforms had always been underutilized, poorly planned and lacked a vision for content and design. Honestly, I didn’t really think about social media content and design with the same energy and focus that I brought to our print magazine; I finally saw that as a both a problem and an opportunity.
With everything changing, we were ready to go in a new direction. Three students enthusiastically agreed to this brand new position, and we got started on conversations with the basic premise that we had no idea what this was going to look like.
A side note here: I’ve always struggled to find the “perfect” grading system. More on that in another post. But, one of my turns along the way was to tell students that they needed to publish something once every other week. This understandably resulted in students jamming our social media with mediocre posts on those final deadline days.
During this past summer, our Social Media EIC team worked to develop constants, a plan for content and a social media policy. In addition, they developed a consistent, recognizable design by being intentional about fonts, colors, photos, etc., I asked them to keep on working until they could see one of their posts on a feed from 10 or 20’ away and they would know that it was a post from our publication.
I would describe our previous feed as a hot mess, but now, students have worked to make Social Media an actual platform and publication — just like website and our magazine.
Our Social Media EICs use a spreadsheet to keep track of the content. The consistency in coverage has been of value for my new students who get to repeat — and get really good at — the social media journalism process. It’s also been of value for our community; it gives people a place to see people outside of their social circle and to hear stories in smaller chunks. Posts provide brief encounters with people who you don’t know well enough to call or text, and these posts build a sense of community when so much has been lost.
I look back now and it seems like I should have seen the importance of developing social media as a platform and a publication before.
But, I didn’t. So, I am sharing it with you now.
It’s ironic that the place where students are most engaged and getting an excessive amount of information is the exact place where we were putting the least amount of energy, thought and dedication.
Luckily, that has changed for us. The pandemic gets partial credit because it pushed us to think differently. But, our first Social Media EIC team gets the bulk of the credit because they are the ones who made it happen.