CBC journalist Tamara Baluja is spending a term at the UBC School of Journalism, having been awarded the prestigious Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education.
During her time at the school, Baluja is studying the teaching of social media journalism in post-secondary institutions in Canada. After the fellowship is complete, Baluja will share her findings and learning modules with other Canadian journalism schools and media organizations.
“Every journalist needs to have some understanding of how social media works,” Baluja said. “You need to be able to use it for things like verifying sources or content coming in through social, or learning how to engage with your audience so your story doesn’t go out into the ether.”
Founded in 1970, the Michener Award honours excellence in public service journalism, and the panel of judges assess the potential public benefit of each applicant’s proposal.
Specific skills for social media
While she is an honorary research associate at UBC, Baluja is on leave from her position as CBC Vancouver’s social media editor. Previously, she has worked at The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Province, and JSource.
Baluja is guest lecturing in several classes, including in the school’s award-winning Decoding Social Media course. She’ll dig into the fundamentals of engaging audiences through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, social videos, and how to analyze metrics in order to maximize the impact of stories online.
“I love to hear someone is enthused about social. But I find that most recent graduates have a far better grounding in radio or video production. Social is different,” said Baluja.
“To me, it’s the fourth platform. We’ve got digital, we’ve to television, we’ve got radio, and we’ve got social. What works on digital doesn’t necessarily work on social. There are very specific skills.”
“I want to help students to figure out what is the best way to engage their audiences and how to tell their stories on social. It’s not just tweet,” Baluja added. “It’s far more than that.”