The power of the social network

Updated below

I don’t know Lindsay Carbonell personally, in real life. She graduated from the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill in May, which is where I teach, but I hadn’t heard of her. Don’t read anything into that; it’s a big school.

At some point, she started following me on Twitter and I followed her back because she seemed interesting. She calls herself a data journalist and web developer. When she graduated, she was looking for work and wrote a Twitter thread that impressed me.  It starts:

The thread told me three things: First, she understands journalism’s needs better than most of the journalists I know and many of the teachers. Second, journalism needs her. She and people like her are its future. Third, I needed to help her find work.

I retweeted her thread. I can’t remember exactly what I said about it — this was in June and I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last night — but I suspect it was something along the lines of “This is the future of journalism. Someone hire her.” Or maybe it was a simple RT.

Today is her first day working with EducationNC. I claim no credit or role in Lindsay’s hiring. That’s all her talent and EducationNC’s smarts. I have no idea whether my RT got any attention other than from Lindsay. What I do know is that her initial Twitter thread got the attention of the editors at EducationNC, who liked what they saw and contacted her.

Last night, Lindsay started another thread. It began:

I make students in my Reporting and Writing class tweet. I stress the importance of networking on social media. I tell personal stories of connecting – and getting responses from famous novelists. I talk about engaging with interesting people all over the world, and particularly some in my fields of interest. I show them how they can discover new information, how they can find sources and how they can learn interesting stuff. I tell them about students who’ve gotten jobs because of what they’ve seen and done on Twitter. (I’m one of many of the late Steve Buttry’s disciples.)

I’m clearly not effective at it, though, because most of them abandon Twitter as soon as the semester is over. They tend to think of it in their high school terms, rather than as a place where professionals gather. But some get it, and perhaps others will see her last post in that Twitter thread.

For now, I am going to invited Lindsay to speak to my classes about both journalism skills and social networks. For one thing, I’ll finally get to meet her in real life.

Saturday update: Laura Lee, managing editor at EducationNC, told me that my RT of Lindsay’s tweet thread led them to her. More important:

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