Social Media Spotlight: Ben Winslow

A journalist who meets his audiences where they are

Photo courtesy of Ben Winslow

Meet Ben Winslow, a “multi-platform journalist” at Tribune’s KSTU-FOX 13 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s on Twitter, he’s on Facebook, he co-hosts a podcast — and oh yes, he’s also on TV. But Winslow is not just posting his work to different platforms; he is using each one in a distinctive way.

Winslow uses Twitter to report on long, often boring, but important government meetings. He live-tweets what’s going on, sending the occasional GIF to inform — and entertain — his followers. “It’s sort of a glorified version of stenography,” Winslow said. “It’s really important that we cover [meetings], but sometimes it’s not necessarily, shall we say, good television.”

Winslow has even motivated followers to attend the meetings. “I have people who I’ve noticed now quote-tweet the thread, and they’re like, ‘This is the best public meeting every month,’” Winslow said. “I’ve had people say, ‘I’m going to show up.’”

He uses Facebook as a place to post traditional articles and video — but also to interact with people in the comment section. “I just try to provide clarification,” Winslow said. “It’s also gently nudging people to read the story that hopefully answers the question.”

In the end it’s also to correct misinformation: Winslow recently posted an article about Kathleen Anderson, a Republican candidate attempting to unseat Utah’s lone Democrat Congressman Ben McAdams. As the comment section erupted, one reader pointed out that she does not live in the county she wants to represent. “Fun fact,” Winslow replied in the comment section. “You don’t have to actually live in the district you represent in Utah. Incumbent Congressman Ben McAdams also does not live in the district.”

His most recent venture is on what seems to be every journalist’s favorite new medium: a podcast. Winslow co-hosts the “Utah Booze News” podcast with Kathy Stephenson, the food writer for The Salt Lake Tribune. The podcast features in-depth explanations of Utah’s alcohol policies and their impact on residents — a high-interest topic in a state where the government has complete control over the supply and sale of alcohol. “In one of our episodes, we solicited questions from people online, and we brought in an attorney who specializes in liquor laws to answer them,” Winslow said. “And it was pretty well received.”

This local TV news reporter spends most of his time on the internet, not to undermine traditional reporting, but to enhance it and recapture audiences who have scattered to every corner of the digital landscape. Winslow encourages other journalists not to be afraid to try new things. “I think people get their news from different places. And I think the way that we report local news to people in our communities is going to be with a multi-platform approach.”

Do you know an anchor, reporter or meteorologist who is creatively using social media and deserves to be featured in our next Social Media Spotlight? If so, email us at cronkitenewslab@asu.edu and we’ll check out the story.

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