Amid the hype of Social Media Week, UT is nearly buzzing with conversation.
This was especially true after the College of Communication and Information hosted Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed legal editor, to speak about his experience as a journalist and the importance of social media in the Scripps Lab on Monday.
Geidner got his start at the Tribune Chronicle in 2000 before leaving in 2002 to attend law school at Ohio State University. While in school, discussions regarding LGBT rights began to grow louder and more visible. Simply to maintain his writing skills, Geidner began blogging about these topics, accidentally becoming part of the first generation of bloggers.
In Geidner's opinion, a strong online presence holds key to success in the media world today, crediting his current job in part to his Twitter following.
"You are creating who you will be known as professionally with your Twitter account, but a big part of that is who you are," Geidner said. "It's not about creating a resume, its about creating a public persona."
But in crafting that Twitter identity, young reporters face a fine line between subjectivity and objectivity.
"The truth is that the more that you let people know who you are, the more they will be able to judge the things that you are writing," he said. "People are aware that I am gay ... (and) I am supportive when states grant same sex couples the right to marry, but they also know that I'm probably the reporter hardest in the country on LGBT organizations who are bringing these lawsuits to be public about what they are doing and when they are fighting each other."
Yet, Geidner said he believes possessing this online persona does not interfere with his ability to report without bias.
"So what some people would question as objectivity, I think is completely objective. It's just making clear what my vantage point is, where my opinions are coming from, and because I have the ability to talk about anything on Twitter, then people are more aware of what that is."
Critiqued for its sometimes playful attitude toward the news, Geidner suggested BuzzFeed is in fact an example of how news and entertainment can work together.
"The funny pages were in the New York Times," he said. "This is what it has always been. Something has to pay for the news coverage."
However, Geidner said his company can sometimes blur the line between entertainment and media. He admitted that sometimes "it's messy" and the staff can make mistakes.
"There are times that we go too far and there are times that we don't go far enough," Geidner said. "Being willing and able to experiment with media is the great advantage that I have at BuzzFeed that a lot of people at a lot of places don't have because they're either afraid to try it or their bosses don't let them."
Casey Black, senior in journalism and electronic media, said she finds the incorporation of entertainment into the news particularly interesting.
"They really are coming together these days with the Internet being so prevalent in news and digital media," she said, "so I really liked hearing about how they handle that, because they do get a lot of flack for that."
Sarah Zimmerman, senior in public relations, shared the same sentiment.
"They gave good tips on how to create engaging content and producing things that people really want to read about."