Micah Grimes, a Troy University alumnus and the social media head for NBC Nightly News and MSNBC, starts at 5:30 every morning to check the news, and the day determines whether or not he gets another hour of sleep.
After a day directing more than 50 social media accounts with numbers higher than 25 million followers and leading a team of editors in news hotspots, the day also determines whether or not he stays in the office until midnight.
Grimes spoke to students about what he does and how to use social media to succeed in journalism at the M. Stanton Evans Symposium, hosted by the Hall School of Journalism and Communication on Feb. 18.
During his talk, Grimes said he believes social media heralds a “new golden age of journalism” because it serves as “the newest great disruption” with a 24/7 news cycle and a world of information at everyone’s fingertips.
Other forms of media caused whirlwinds in the world of journalism, and Grimes said that journalists will have to use social media to “understand how people get news” and “show people news is great.”
“We’re still learning how to deal with that (instant gratification) because (social media) is so young,” Grimes said. “It’s mind-boggling how fast information moves.
“Information didn’t get its pants on before it got out the door … information is flying, but we’ve adjusted before.”
Since information flies, so does biased information and mistrust of news media, so Grimes said an establishment of trust is important while reporting.
“Being unbiased is giving people time and allowing a voice,” he said. “I don’t need you to trust me — I want you to trust me — but I want you to be confident I’ll tell the story truthfully.”
Grimes said journalists must “redefine” the profession.
“If you see people disliking media, be an ambassador,” he said.
Grimes himself serves as an ambassador; working in New York City creates a “competitive” environment for a journalist, so he understands the steps toward success in media.
He held that “nothing replaces hard work,” a statement Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. agreed with.
“I don’t think the fundamentals of reporting have changed much,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been around long enough to know the hard work of writing pays off.
“Pursue the truth, read, write and do it all over again.”
However, Grimes held that meeting people is not only a good habit for journalists, but also a fundamental one to general success. He advised people to put themselves where the action is and be a constant.
“People get used to you and learn how to trust you.”
Ultimately, self-confidence and awareness of strengths are key.
“You’re your best PR person,” Grimes said. “Know who you are, know what you’re good at and know your voice.”
Susan Sarapin, an associate professor of journalism, said she was impressed with the symposium, the speaker and what he had to say.
“I thought it was terrifically helpful for young reporters who will be breaking out into the rapidly changing environment of journalism today,” Sarapin said. “I was impressed by how many students came and asked questions, and I was impressed and proud to see a Troy graduate in journalism do so well and be able to speak so effortlessly and coherently about his trade.”
Taylor Pollock, a senior broadcast journalism major from Prattville, served as a student panelist for the event and “got a lot out of the symposium.”
“One of the things I really took away from it was I need to work more about getting a spot at the table and using my voice — I really need to put myself up front,” Pollock said. “At the same time, he did harp on that fine line between advocating for yourself and bothering someone.”
She also said Grimes’ talk made her realize she needs to be careful with social media usage.
“While we use social media for news, there’s a lot of other distracting things on social media,” Pollock said. “It’s very easy, especially for me, to get distracted when I get on Twitter or Facebook.”
Pollock also said that seeing an alumnus doing so well in a career gives her some hope toward the options she has with the degree she’s working on.
“It’s always good to see Troy alumni as feature speakers because it’s reassuring to me that people who graduate and get degrees become successful,” Pollock said.