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November 7, 2013

SPJ holds social media workshop

By Joshua Hoover

On Oct. 29, local journalists attended “Leveraging social media: a guide for journalists,” an event put on by the Cleveland Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) at the Market Garden Brewery on the west side.

Roughly 35 people attended the event, which was filled beyond the seating capacity. For roughly an hour before the speaker began his presentation, the crowd mingled with each other and were eager to meet the new people.

Rodney Bengston, president of the Cleveland pro chapter of SPJ, organized the event and explained the decision behind basing it on social media.

“It’s an area that a lot of journalists want to improve their skills in, and we also had a social media training event last year that was very well -attended,” said Bengston. Ben-gston strongly urged attendees to join SPJ, as it will allow them to learn new things, as well as network with other journalists.

Mike Scott, a digital trainer and former assistant metro editor for the Plain Dealer gave a 30 minute presentation on current social media trends that journalists should be aware of. Scott spoke about Twitter, Facebook, and the importance of having a device capable of keeping you connected. He did have a warning for everyone, however.

“We don’t want to get so caught up in the next shiny object that we forget what the mission is,” Scott said. Scott emphasized that while journalists need to stay current, they also must remember that their job is still to keep people informed and report the news.

Following Scott’s presentation, there was a panel discussion on social media.

Sitting on the panel were Scott, Michael Norman, who oversees entertainment coverage for Cleveland.com, Kaye Spector, editor at EcoWatch, and Amanda Harnocz, a community manager at MedCity News.

The panel briefly explained their history using social media, then began taking questions from the audience. One question that garnered a lot of attention dealt with how to get the your social media site to get more hits. Both Scott and Norman stressed telling people about it in person, especially in events. They advised getting business cards made to help advertise your presence on social media.

Another important question dealt with staying objective while on social media sites. Norman said that, while it may be difficult to stay objective, it’s pretty easy to stay fair in your coverage. The panel also emphasized using social media during the times of day that most people are on, and that social media use should be directing people to your site.

This event was the last of the year for the Cleveland chapter of SPJ.