The Editor-in-Chief of The Texas Tribune, Emily Ramshaw, answered questions and shared advice with Texas State mass communication students Wednesday evening in Old Main.
Ramshaw visited as part of the SJMC Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series and spoke with Rebecca Larson, digital media graduate student and teaching assistant.
Ramshaw said journalists should be professional, dedicated and willing to work hard at any task editors assign them.
“No job should be too big or too small,” Ramshaw said.
Reporters in the digital age must be able to collaborate with coders, graphic designers, multimedia producers and all people on staff to create a story package. She said that stories don’t have to be told in multiple formats, such as story package including a video, a podcast and an interactive graphic.
“Tell me the story in one way, in the best possible format for that story, and I’ll be happy,” Ramshaw said.
Social media is a news tool useful to gather and share news, she said. Twitter is where journalists and policymakers communicate with each other, but Facebook is where the general population communicates.
“We have the responsibility to make sure our stories are where the people are,” Ramshaw said.
Journalists have to be smart with their social media personality, she said.
People active on social media want to relate to the journalists they follow as someone human, not just a news provider or an expert on policies. Displaying personality on social media is good, Ramshaw said.
However, Ramshaw said journalists should not be partisan on social media. Sharing political affiliations via social media can limit job opportunities. The Texas Tribune editors have turned down reporter fellowship candidates because of the partisanship shown in their social media.
“Be smart,” Ramshaw said of journalists’ actions on social media. “Be thoughtful, don’t be snarky.”
Michael Royal, electronic media sophomore, said he heard of the event from a Mass Communication professor.
“I really wanted to know how to hone my skills as a blogger and what can I do to really gain an audience,” Royal said. “I thought she was really awesome. I really love the speaker series.”
Royal said Ramshaw’s speech was informative and he received good pointers, especially on how to use social media.
“I’m going to reflect on my social media and make sure I’m not partisan,” Royal said. “Make sure I stick to the story and not necessarily my opinion.”
As a nonprofit news organization, The Texas Tribune website includes a list of all revenue sources of funding online. Editors also include a disclaimer in all stories relating to any organization that provides funding to the organization.
“Funders play no role in the journalism we produce,” Ramshaw said.
The Texas Tribune has been successful in part because its revenue streams are varied, she said.
The Texas Tribune also receives revenue from hosting events, such as The Texas Tribune Festival. Most of the events are free to public and feature Texas Tribune staff interviewing local and state government officials. Audience members have the opportunity to speak to elected government representatives at events.
Larson said it was honor to have Ramshaw visit and have the opportunity to interview the Editor-in-Chief.
“I interviewed Evan Smith, former Editor-in-Chief, at Mass Comm week, so it felt like a natural progression to interview Emily,” she said.
Larson believes the advice Ramshaw shared concerning social media resonated with students.
“I felt like the students were really interested in her and what she has to say,” Larson said. “I think that’s partly just because of her fantastic reputation, partly because she’s really well spoken and she’s a badass woman in digital journalism, so that’s awesome.”