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Introducing The Observer’s new social media team

| Friday, September 6, 2019

As a journalist, my mission is to serve the organization’s audience. To do that, I listen to news consumers for the answers to two questions: what do they need to know that I (or my colleagues) can tell them, and how do they want to know it?

This year, The Observer is responding to the needs and desires of its audience in a new way, and that’s where I come in. My position — Social Media Editor — has never existed before. Neither have the positions of my nine-person team. 

The Observer has used Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for years, but has lacked a group dedicated solely to that effort until now. Looking at how many of our online readers come from these platforms, we decided it was time to have a team that would not only be deeply acquainted with the stories we publish, but also with the trends of the digital age. 

Knowing that many people get their news primarily or exclusively from social media, we take that responsibility very seriously. 

As a news organization, our mission is to uncover the truth and report it accurately — a statement we display prominently on our website. Social media has the power to aid in both efforts, if used with good intent, caution and conscientiousness. 

To that end, we work to use social media to best serve our followers. 

A misleading or confusing shareline does not help the reader. In language that has length restrictions, it’s difficult to include the full complexity of the story, but our posts must still be true, complete and clear. It’s also our responsibility to help you understand what is opinion and what is fact. We do so by differentiating between “reporters” and “columnists,” and by denoting what comes from the Viewpoint section.

Above all, we strive to give you the news in an interesting way, without compromising the integrity of the story or the organization, in order to reach our current readers better and to engage new readers. 

I am very passionate about social media, but I wasn’t always. In fact, I signed up for my current Twitter and Instagram accounts in my sophomore year Fundamentals of Journalism course. 

Since then, social media has become more than a way for me to follow my friends. It’s how I get my news, how I connect with people in my field and how I share my own and others’ accomplishments. I see social media as integral to the work I do and to journalism at large.

So this year, keep an eye out for the efforts of my team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and in two newsletters we launched this week.

People and trends are constantly changing, and, often, it’s up to the field of journalism to change with it. This initiative is a substantial change to help The Observer serve the tri-campus community even better.

At the end of the day, the more we engage with the audience, the better our work will be. That’s why I want to hear from you! I’m eager to hear your thoughts and discuss how we can best use social media to promote quality journalism.

Mary Bernard is The Observer’s Social Media Editor. She is majoring in Anthropology, minoring in Journalism and desperately trying to bake the perfect loaf of bread. She can be reached at [email protected] or @mbernardreports on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Mary Bernard

Mary Bernard is a senior with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the Social Media Editor for The Observer, managing and overseeing all things audience engagement.

Contact Mary