Local editor explains social media values


The University of Tennessee College of Communications and Information kicked off its eighth annual Social Media Week Tuesday, Feb. 20 to provide students with opportunities to learn about an increasingly prevalent field.

Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, emphasized the social media’s importance in journalism students’ daily lives during a panel discussion. Social media tips serve as immediate sources about local stories like the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfire.

“Just about as soon as I got into my house, an app called Data Miner blew up on my phone. I opened it up and started looking at these tweets of people shooting video of flames leaping up outside their hotel window in Gatlinburg,” McElroy said.

Editors like McElroy focus on social media like Twitter and Snapchat as critical outlets to gather news, especially breaking news. Social media videos like those of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida become essential to public knowledge.

“The parents will be passing it all around. Things of this type are touching people’s lives and pinning into their network of connections, so social media is tremendously important,” McElroy said.

Social media changes the style of formerly traditional newsrooms. McElroy used the Knoxville News Sentinel as an example.

“We are really more of a digital newsroom,” he said. “If you’re projecting out 10 to 15 years, it’s very hard to picture what kind of traditional news organizations are going to be surviving.”

McElroy took questions from students in attendance. The aspiring journalists asked how social media and news rooms may continue to evolve.

“I’m certainly not going to answer your question of what the future holds, you’re going to answer it. The people in this room are going to invent what that new world tool is.”

UT Social Media Week continues through Thursday, Feb. 22. For more information, click here.


Story by Caroline Jordan

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured Photo: TNJN

Engaging in thoughtful debate may require everyone to stop talking – at least temporarily

Shut Up!

Episode One: Facts or Feelings?

Thinking about the heightened awareness of “fake news” over the last year or two, and increasingly common debate taking place via social media, how can we create effective arguments and constructive dialogue around hot-button topics like politics and social causes?

Thoughtful debate can be challenging to facilitate, but is arguably more important than ever before. I spoke with my parents – a lawyer and a community organizer – and a coworker who is also a journalism student about how to facilitate “good” debate and use critical thinking, rather than allowing conversation to disintegrate into purely emotion-driven argument with little to no basis on fact. While some people gravitate toward manipulating emotion or forming relationship-driven arguments, others make use only of facts. I explore the benefits of both, and how we can find middle ground. This and more on Shut Up!

College of Communication and Informations kicks off eighth annual Diversity & Inclusion Week

The University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information is hosting the annual Diversity and Inclusion Week during Monday, Sept. 25 through Thursday, Sept. 28.

While the celebration is a four-day long event, each day has three different sessions to cater to various student schedules.

This year’s theme is R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and every session incorporates that theme in some way.

Monday kicked off the week with a morning session titled “Mental Health and Media Effects” with Dr. Catherine Luther and UT student Tala Shatara as moderators. CNN contributor, psychologist and media analyst, Dr. Erik Fisher, was the panelist for the session.

The session covered the issue of mental health in the United States and how social media relates and feeds into that concept. Dr. Fisher talked about how the human race has let social media impact our lives so much that it is changing our brains and causing humans to feel more depressed than ever before.

Dr. Fisher gave some tips for changing habits and creating a better life. The full session can be found online here.

The afternoon session, “Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin” featured five student panelists: Justin Crawford, Ronnie Little, Kayla Parker, Crue Smith and Michelle Rodriguez. Student Lisa Oliver and Director of CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society, Alice Wirth, were the moderators for the session.

This discussion gave the panelists the chance to share their life stories about their personal challenges growing up and what they still go through today. They also talked about how and when they became comfortable being themselves.

In addition to the morning session, the full afternoon discussion can be found online as well.

To end the day, UT Chancellor, Beverly J. Davenport, was the keynote speaker. Her speech focused on ‘being different,’ an important topic to her and the university.

“Differences change the conversation,” Davenport said. “[differences] makes us more compassionate.”

Chancellor Davenport emphasized how important having a diverse campus is to the university. She talked about her goals to make UT more diverse and make it more welcoming for students from all over the world.

She said it is important to surround yourself with a diverse group of people, but also with some people who are similar to you.

“I wish I could go through this life without a body,” Davenport said. “We make so many judgments about what people look like.”

Furthermore, Davenport said that it is crucial to not judge people based on how they look on the outside, because you never know what’s on the inside. She said it is important to be accepting and loving of everyone no matter what.

Davenport also talked about how people need to be mindful of what they say to each other because words matter and can have a lasting effect on someone.

Davenport talked about her goals for the university and how she wants the students to help her make a difference.

“The students will lead us, [you] just have to listen,” Davenport said.

She answered questions from students about how to have a voice and make a change at the university. As someone who holds a communications degree, she found a way to connect to everyone in the audience.

Following her Q&A session, Chancellor Davenport thanked the Diversity and Leaders Society for having her and the students and faculty for coming out.

“I can’t applaud you all enough for being different with me, I can’t do it without you,” Davenport said.

A full schedule of all the events going on throughout the week can be found online.

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Featured Image by Sophie Grosserode 

Producer discusses social media careers during Social Media Week

Headline News (HLN) Social Media Producer Luke Burke spoke to students and staff in a session called “Do What You Love” about pursuing a career in social media as a part of Social Media Week, held in the Scripps Lab of the College of Communication and Information building Thursday, April 2.

Luke Burke discussing his career in social media news during Social Media Week
Luke Burke discussing his career in social media news during Social Media Week.

During the session, Burke talked about how he came to his career, and emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to choosing careers because technology is continuing to advance.

“You must become proficient with the skills and applications at your fingertips now, because tomorrow there will be something new,” he advised.

In 2003 Burke landed his first job with MTV News, where he worked on various shows including “True Life,” “Cribs,” and the “Video Music Awards.” He said the highlight of his time at MTV was when he interviewed Janet Jackson.

Burke said that he noticed how the internet was becoming bigger and had more of an influence on the way everyone was consuming news, so he made the transition to MTV’s digital news source.

Burke left to work for BET, but when he started, the network used little social media.

“They didn’t even have a Twitter account,” he said.

Burke helped launch BET News’s social media platform, where he created his first news special “I Am Trayvon Martin,” which was rated as number one during prime time.

Later, Burke began live tweeting during the show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and was contacted by a producer of the show who found his tweets entertaining, and he began to work with the show.

However, Burke was ready to return to news after only one year, saying that working with the show “was the most grueling work ever.”

He said that he realized that he wanted a career in social media news after seeing how much it had changed in one year, which led him to his job at HLN.

“The key point is you have to keep up, the landscape is always changing,” he said.

To keep up with Burke and the latest viral hits, follow him on Twitter @LukeBurke

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt 


Czech reporter finds success through social media

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 7.33.48 PM
Horký speaks during a live report from the Office of the Government.

“I’m very lucky,” said Czech TV reporter Filip Horký.

Horký, who chose not to attend a university after graduation, was fortunate enough to find his place at Czech TV via Facebook.

“I just found one presenter of news at Facebook, and I sent a Facebook message: ‘I wanna be like you in the future,” said Horký.

The reporter recognized Horký’s potential from reading the sports blog that he kept and spread the word. Ultimately, Czech TV offered him an internship.

In the beginning, Horký’s duties consisted of small jobs.

“I was just writing all the time code ‘one, one, zero, nine,’ there is an important thing or he scored a goal. Or he made a really big hit. That was my job.”

But as time progressed, he was promoted from his junior position to one with more responsibility. Horký even had the opportunity to see firsthand reporting of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Horký updates followers during a press conference
Horký updates followers during a press conference.

As his superiors observed his talents off screen, they decided to give him a chance onscreen. Horký was offered the job of field reporter on the political beat.

This new opportunity came at a perfect time as Horký said that he was ready to move forward with his career.

Now five years into his job with Czech TV, Horký spends nearly every weekday and many weekends out in the field to keep the Czech Republic informed.

When asked if journalism is what he sees himself doing for the rest of his life, Horký had a brief, but hopeful response.

“I really hope so, but we will see.”


Edited by Maggie Jones


Social Media Week addresses online faculty, student interactions

On Wednesday, April 2, UT Social Media Week continued with a question and answer format entitled, “How social media can be used in and of out the classroom.” The segment touched base on the pros and cons of faculty using social media as a class assignment outlet.

Carolyn Hank, assistant professor at UT’s School of Information Sciences, Nick Bowman, assistant professor of Communication Studies and Research Association in the Media and Interaction Lab at the University of West Virginia and Karen Freberg, assistant professor in Strategic Communications at the University of Louisville each argued their cases before the Q and A began.

Bowman (left), Freberg (middle), and Hank (right) during Q&A portion
Bowman (left), Freberg (middle), and Hank (right) during Q&A portion
Bowman (left) and Hank (right) listening to Freberg's argument
Bowman (left) and Hank (right) listening to Freberg’s argument

Hank, who labeled herself as the pessimist of the group, conducted her own research about the topic, which primarily focuses on how faculty and students are deciding to informally interact today. She said there is not enough research yet to prove whether faculty and student social interaction has a positive or negative outcome, but she chooses to not use social media as a classroom outlet.

She speculates if faculty is “well-behaved” enough to be online friends with their students, providing examples of “not so funny” tweets made by professors. When it comes to social media interactions, Hank questions whether faculty should have a friendly presence in social media with students.

Bowman’s argument was that social media can be used as a supplemental class activity, or a “third place” for mass lectures. Bowman teaches a class of over 300 students at the University of West Virginia, and he claims that while students might attend the lectures, “students are not really ‘there,’” he said.

Bowman conducted research on this topic and found that students who socially interact with their classes generally do better than those who do not.

Freberg presenting her argument
Freberg presenting her argument

Freberg’s argued that faculty and student friending on social media can benefit the students on an educational and personal level. Freberg makes clear to her students that they are more than welcome to friend her on social media, so long as they can “handle it,” she said.  Freberg posts both personal and school-related announcements to reach out to her students.

Research is on-going as to whether or not this controversial interaction yields a positive or negative outcome.


Edited by Nichole Stevens