Advice from an Expert on Modern Journalism

Kathleen Pierce

Kathleen Pierce, a writer for the Bangor Daily News, focuses on the local southern Maine restaurant scene. Pierce visited Thornton Academy on April 8th, 2016 to speak to the Carpe Diem staff about how to improve writing skills and how to better develop our own stories. Some of her more recent pieces include Modern Milkmen: Why two New York brothers are running a Maine dairy startup, and #24BEAN documenting her journey spending an entire 24 hours in L.L. Bean.

During Pierce’s visit, she explained to us how much of an impact social media has on journalism today. Print is still available, but most viewers have made the switch to getting their daily news online. Pierce explains how twitter played a vital role while spending her 24 hours in L.L. Bean. “There was engagement with the audience, we had the hashtag #24BEAN so people were following on. Readers were saying ‘Hey don’t forget the fishing bowl. Go check out the fish!’ and ‘Hey, could you do some shopping for me?’ it was fun…interactive, which is really where journalism is right now in this digital age.”

She went on to explain how modern journalists are encouraged to “become their own brand” meaning writers are encouraged share their content through Twitter, hashtag, Facebook, Instagram etc. Pierce said how now, instead of writing long in-depth pieces, she’s more often writing teasers and shorter stories to post on her social media as a form of attraction for the audience.

One downside the impact technology has had on social media is how stories are nowadays judged on popularity (how many likes, shares, comments, etc. a post gets) and not content. Seeing an article posted on Facebook with only a few likes, shares and comments is less likely to grab your attention compared to an articles that has a couple thousand likes, shares and comments even if the content of the less popular article is more in-depth and over all better. Some news organizations even set expectations or goals for their writers to reach on social media.

One piece of advice Pierce gave, pertains to not only journalists but everybody. “You are only as strong as your sources.” She believes that developing thoughtful connections to people in the community is vital to being the successful journalist that she is.

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