Greetings from Birmingham: What I do here and why I’m back in school

My beloved Birmingham, Alabama.
My beloved Birmingham, Alabama, where I live with my sweet husband of one year.

I got my first job at a newspaper when I was 16. That was almost 10 years ago now, and I’ve witnessed many changes and learned lots of lessons.

I’ve filled the roles of reporter, designer, copy editor, sports producer and now, community engagement specialist. In my current role as statewide community engagement specialist for (an Alabama news website that includes content from The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, Mobile’s Press-Register, as well as our other hubs in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and the Anniston/Gadsden area), I work to connect our staff with our communities. That includes getting our folks involved in’s comments and comfortably using social media to share their content with the audiences who will want to read it.

I also lead the management of our branded social media accounts. We are active as a company on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. We also routinely submit content to other networks such as Reddit, Fark and StumbleUpon. We study our analytics to determine successes (and failures), and we share those conclusions with the staff along with general best practices. In addition, I’ve trained our staff in large groups on using social media and engaging with readers and worked one-on-one with those who wanted more information or help with a special effort.

Today, classes officially started to train me further on social media and multimedia communications. I’ve had some great successes finding my way around using trial and error and general experience. But I am looking forward to soaking up every bit of information I can from the University of Florida’s masters program in communication and social media. This semester I am enrolled in Intro to Social Media and Intro to Multimedia Communications. I hope to take the lessons learned in class and apply them to both my work and personal social media accounts, as well as share new tips, practices and theories with the staff. As I work on school projects, I will also be managing work projects, and it is my hope that each will help with the other. I’m lucky to already be in the field that interests me most, so taking these classes and earning this degree is not about getting a job; it’s about making sure that I’m the best at what I currently do.

In 10 more years, the media industry won’t look the same as it does now, and I know I’ll have to consciously try to stay on top of the latest and greatest in digital tools. Some of the sites that we talk about in classes this semester may give us a 404 error one day, but the ideas behind them — the why and how and,  in some cases, who — that I will learn in this program will serve me for the rest of my career.

Side note: Here are all the places you can find me. I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you!



4 thoughts on “Greetings from Birmingham: What I do here and why I’m back in school”

  1. Julie, I won’t pretend to understand exactly what you do or what the
    new studies entail. I’m an old man who likes to sit down with a
    newspaper or a book. However, I do have great faith in you and
    wish you well in this brave new world of journalism.

  2. Julie, I completely agree with Bob. When one gets to be as old as I am , it is a struggle to even learn how to use Facebook. So I wish all manner of good luck in earning your degree.

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