Friday Faculty Focus: UNO’s Jeremy Lipschultz


September 9th, 2016

Dr. Jeremy Lipschultz teaches courses on Media Law and Computer-Mediated Communication. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

Dr. Jeremy Lipschultz teaches courses on Media Law and Computer-Mediated Communication. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

On this week’s edition of Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO’s student reporter, Brandon McDermott takes a look at new media and social media. McDermott had a chance to sit down with Dr. Jeremy Lipschultz, Isaacson Professor at UNO’s School of Communication. They discuss the changing faces of media, how it’s changed journalism and what is next for social media.

Brandon: Dr. Lipschultz thanks for joining me this week.

Dr. Lipschultz: Great.

Brandon: Over the past ten years with the progression of social media. How has that changed the game for journalism?

Dr. Lipschultz: It’s been a big game changer. I do an annual book chapter update for communication law book and new communication technology, and it changes every year. First (it changed) because of the Internet and what it did to traditional media and, now (with) social media where everyone’s a publisher.

Brandon: With breaking news at our finger tips, is that better for broadcasters in their pursuit of seeking the truth? Or does that allow for mixed messages and half-truths to be re-tweeted and shared, without the vetting of facts?

Dr. Lipschultz: Probably all of the above. I think there’s a remarkable aspect to the fact that anybody now has this ability to communicate with the world at any moment in time. The upside is that we get more information in real time. The downside is that it requires a lot of filtering and most people are not comfortable doing that much filtering. And so, you either have to – on Twitter curate carefully a list of accounts that you follow and trust, or rely primarily on a small group of mainstream media that you trust, but it is challenging.

Brandon: I notice you’ve sent more than 140,000 different tweets. How often are you interacting with followers on Twitter and Facebook?

Dr. Lipschultz: Well I think the interaction and engagement happens on a weekly basis. In terms of the number of tweets, a lot of what I do is probably in one of two categories. I tweet a lot of news, so that’s just things that are happening in the journalism world. Then, I would also certainly communicate with people in real time as events are happening. So, for example, four years ago during the debates we were live-tweeting those as we did broadcast on the Omaha news, on our cable broadcast and as we were sharing content across social media. We do a lot of different things with Twitter, Facebook Instagram and other platforms.

Brandon: What have you found with interacting over the different platforms from LinkedIn to Facebook, Twitter to Instagram?

Dr. Lipschultz: They’re different. I think people’s Facebook friends tend to be a different group of people than we might interact with in terms of Twitter followers. Instagram provides a certain type of visual content, whether it be photographs or video. Vine videos or a unique type of social media, as is Snapchat and the snap. So, each one has its own language and its own context. One of the things that we teach at the UNO Social Media Lab is how do you listen for the differences and engage in a way that people will be interested in what you have to say? But also that fits with the broader conversation that’s going on in that platform.

Brandon: What’s next for new media or social media?

Dr. Lipschultz:  It’s I think a changing environment in the sense that, as we look , not only a geolocation but the ways in which these platforms evolve. It’s very interesting. I mean we’re deeply interested in the current presidential election and the research that’s starting to emerge about social media. There’s a real important question and that is ‘did the fact that Donald Trump had so many Twitter followers, a couple of years ago have a great impact on him being able to be nominated as the Republican nominee?’ Going forward, the scientific community is going to bring its expertise to bear on these questions. Most of our evidence, to this point, has been anecdotal and not that scientific. But now we have the ability with enough years in place – 10 years of Facebook – to be able to really begin to study social media as a phenomenon.

Brandon: Do you have anything else for us?

Dr. Lipschultz: Well I think one of the things that we always tell both students and others is the thing about their personal brand in social media. I just interviewed someone for an upcoming blog post who has a company that focuses on high school students. And the fact that if they are not developing a personal brand on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, this can have a negative effect on college admissions on scholarships and job opportunities and a variety of life instances that would be important to them. So, I do think that we’ve gotten past the point now where you can just say ‘oh, just stay off of social media and you’ll be fine.’ People expect there to be a presence in places like LinkedIn If you’re a professional and that’s different. I think that’s changed over the last few years.

Brandon: Well Dr. Lipschultz, I what to say thank you, again, for joining me on the show.

Dr. Lipschultz: Thank you.

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