Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ladan Nekoomaram Talks Blogging, Social Media with M&M TIPsters

By: Sarah Eutsler, M&M TA

Contributers: Megan Valentine, Malea Berry, Olivia Baker, and fellow M&M TIPsters

The Skype chat was connected. The big screen pulled down and boom! The face of Ladan Nekoomaram appeared in front of the Media and Message Duke TIP class at the University of Georgia.

Nekoomaram, a fellow at Radio Free Europe and avid blogger, took time out from her Tuesday afternoon to talk with the group of 16 high school students. The conversation ranged from blogging to journalism in general, but in the end provided students with a lesson on the significance of social media.

"Twitter can be used to say more than what your doing at the moment," Nekoomaram said.

Twitter, she believes, is a great launching pad for those who are serious about a career in journalism. She frequently uses her own Twitter account to connect to others in the journalism field she meets at conferences and events she covers. Twitter also becomes a promotional tool for her work.

Stories Nekoomaram writes for Radio Free Europe do not always make it on the organization’s website, so she turns to her own blog, D.C. Foreign Policy Beat, to publish them. Then she employs the assistance of Twitter to help distribute her articles.

Her savvy use of Twitter brings her attention from both her followers and connections. She’s garnered attention from The Huffington Post, which landed her blogging opportunities through their site. This summer she has provided two blog posts on internship advice.

Nekoomaram’s relationship with social media also led to a first-person account published on MSNBC’s website, where she interned last summer. In the article she discussed how Facebook became a means to stay in touch with relatives in Iran during the Iran Revolution.

A 2009 DePauw University graduate, Nekoomaram took some time to talk about training for a journalism career. She studied English writing and history at the liberal arts school, located in Greencastle, Ind. She explained that her English classes helped to develop her writing skills, something she sometimes felt gave her an edge over her classmates in American University’s Master of Arts in Journalism program.

The history “helped with understanding context,” especially when it came to Persian affairs, a particular interest of Nekoomaram’s due to her heritage. "The news doesn't give you the history [as a reporter]. You're the one who has to do the research about the issue you're talking about. You need to know your topic," she explained.

Nekoomaram also told the students that they were doing exactly the right thing: learning about digital media at a young age. "Now is the time to learn these things because you still have a little bit of that learning curve,” she said. “By the time you're graduating, you'll be expected to know these things and well, so it's best to learn them early so you won't have to play catch-up later on."

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