After evaluating the successful engagement received during our inaugural #UMichChat, we were excited to move forward with our second installment this month. These Twitter chats work to provide our audience the unique opportunity to converse with the many leaders, innovators, and athletes within the University of Michigan community. Each chat revolves around a particular topic, and the guests are asked to participate based on their leadership in the field and the perspective that they will bring to the conversation. In leveraging the power of social media, we are able to extend our reach and lead, what we hope will be, an engaging dialogue.

Given the recent journalistic and social media coverage surrounding Ferguson and activism, the conversation on Dec. 5 was promoted as a way to cover “The Power of Social Media in Journalism Today.” We were lucky enough to have three knowledgable panelists contribute to this important discussion:  Gregory Anderson, editorial director at Yahoo and Knight Wallace Fellow, Martha Jones, professor of history, Afro-American and African studies, and law; and Jennifer Calfas, 2015 Editor-in-Chief of The Michigan Daily.


Similarly to our first #UMichChat, we went into the morning with a schedule of questions to serve as a guide, but as things progressed naturally throughout the hour, we saw users continually submitting their own thought-provoking and relevant questions for the guests. It was exciting to see the hashtag catch on, sparking a free-flowing debate amongst our panelists, students, faculty, and @umich followers alike. When engaging with a current topic of contention, there is always the risk of running into hostile comments and inappropriate feedback. However, instead of avoidance, we’ve found that it is beneficial for an official account, @umich especially, to bring attention to the concerns of the community and initiate healthy conversation.

This time around, questions ranged from simple,”Is there a platform of preference among journalists and educators? Which is your personal favorite?” and moved to include more complex user-submitted questions,”Does “Black Twitter” exist? How does race shape SM in #blacklivesmatter, #ferguson & beyond?”

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See the full #UMichChat recap here:

In regards to this chat, we received approximately 300 uses of our hashtag, which resulted in total reach  of 224K. 

There’s no denying that social media has reshaped the current journalism landscape, and that’s something our guests acknowledged. Looking forward, it will be fascinating to see how reporters, everyday users, and activists will continue to navigate and engage in these spaces.

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Photo courtesy of panelist @RealGEAnderson

Thanks to everyone who participated in this conversation! We hope that you will join us on Jan. 9 with Royster Harper, Vice President of Student Life.  Have any interesting Tweeters or topics in mind for the future? You know where to find us: @umich.

This post was written by Katie Szymanski, Communication and Digital Studies senior; #UMsocial editorial intern