Web and social media
Social media engages the audience and improves reporting by offering reliable sources and first-hand accounts. Social media is a two-way conversation and, when used correctly, can be a great tool to build a journalist's voice. For the longest time, I had the comment sections on my social media pages turned off but then realized that by doing that, I was making it a one-way conversation and not allowing my audience to engage with me. So, while sometimes I wish my comments were off, I keep them on to keep that conversation going.
THE EAGLE MINUTE
In December of 2019, I had the idea to create a short social media exclusive show for students after noticing that our viewership had significantly declined on our live shows. One of the ways that we reconnected with them was with the Eagle Minute launch that pioneered student journalism in the U.S. In January 2020, when the show launched, it was one of the only student-produced short digital shows in the United States. On the show, a student anchor shares campus stories, national news and trending topics. The show’s tagline is “The top stories for students in 60 seconds.” The show is available for students to view on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Following the launch came several other schools creating their own show versions, such as the Mainstream Minute at McKinney High School and the Cowboy Countdown at Coppell High School. The show is currently in its second season.
LONE STAR LOCKDOWN
After hearing of an incident at a neighboring high school, students were concerned that this was not an isolated incident and thought it could threaten our school. Located just a few miles from Prosper High, Lone Star High School was placed under a lockdown with reports of a student who brought a gun to school and planned to harm the student body with it. Reporter Julia Bisaillon and I headed to the scene just after the lockdown was lifted and found that we had beaten the new stations to the story. We went live on our social media pages with the following report, and our footage aired on the local program NBC5 later that afternoon.
I joke with my family members and tell them that I was born to be a meteorologist because there is a meteorologist on a news station in Dallas named Grant Johnston. His name is just one letter apart from mine, and when I introduce myself, people often associate me with the weatherman from NBC5 (which is a huge compliment). In my junior year, for the seventh season of Eagle Nation News, we wanted to do a show with more of a morning feel to it, and a big part of any morning show is the weather forecast. I didn’t know much about meteorology but always had an interest in weather patterns, so I took an online course in the summer from HarvardX. In addition to how to accurately predict the weather by looking at models, that course taught me about hot and cold air masses, weather patterns and disasters. I was eager to use the knowledge that I had received from that course and became one of the usual anchors for our weather segment.
In January of 2020, a large storm was expected to come right through our area with an elevated chance of tornados and large hail. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to keep my community safe and let them know what was ahead, so I recorded a weather update after school the day the storm was expected and uploaded it to social media shortly after. The response from the community was excellent, and I received several thank you messages in the comments.
In the winter months of 2021, Texas received its first snowstorm in 5 years, and rumors were going around the campus about school being canceled if snow were to arrive. I went straight to the weather models, made a forecast, and broadcast it on our student body later that day. My prediction was accurate, and I received another wave of positive feedback. Keeping my community weather aware is just another way for me to help my community through my storytelling.
ROCK HILL MEDIA
The social media brand identity and consistency in posts led the Rock Hill Media Instagram page to earn more than 1,000 followers in just one month. Hill Top News producer Khshaeta Cama and I developed a standard with colors, fonts and graphics for the RHM social media during the summer before our program was established. The social media pages are shared between all of the journalism programs at Rock Hill High School, so creating a document that was easy to follow for the other programs was essential so we could keep the same look and feel. The following document outlines the standards we established.
The key to these Homecoming/Forthcoming guides that I created was the convenience of information being in one place. If you have ever been to Texas, you would know how big of a deal Homecoming festivities are to the communities. In 2019, I created a complete Homecoming guide for the community and published it on social media. The post took off and spread all over the town. After the first guide's success, I decided to create another one for my new school, Rock Hill, and it had a very similar response from the community.
PROMOTING STORIES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I have made it a standard procedure that reporters post a teaser of their story on social media the day it airs on the Hill Top News show. By promoting these stories on social media, people involved in the story can share them with their following and it boosts viewership on the show. Here are a few examples of my promos:
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