Micah Grimes, head of social media for NBC News and MSNBC, spoke to Troy University students Monday, celebrating technology and the advances it brings to a “new golden age of journalism” — but warning of pitfalls.
As a 2010 graduate of TROY, he has seen the innovation that technology has brought to the journalism industry in the past decade, as well as its side effects on the public.
Grimes emphasized Twitter’s major role in modern journalism but warned that spending too much time on social media can muddle the real journalism that should be focused on exceptional reporting and sticking to the facts.
“I really enjoyed his aspect on preparing for the future,” said Briana Jones, a senior broadcast journalism major from Birmingham. “He made sure we’re aware of the changing technology but not so accustomed to it that we lose sight of the job.”
Grimes addressed concerns about media outlets not differentiating between opinion news shows and nonpartisan news. He said this situation often leads to opinion-based information and mistakes being labeled as “fake news” rather than the audience recognizing what fake news actually looks like.
He defined fake news as “someone intentionally making up and disseminating fake information with the knowing intent of misinforming people.”
“You have to educate your community, and we haven’t done a good job of explaining that and defending ourselves,” Grimes said.
Jones said that he “really touched on being informed — not focusing on ‘fake news,’ just facts.”
Grimes gave advice on how to succeed in a career.
“You learn, and if you’re talented and you work hard and you care, then you can fake it ’til you make it and you truly are somebody who can be an editor,” he said. “I encourage you, once you get into your profession, even here while you’re still in school: Go to the front, get a seat at the conference table, use your voice, because you have to build your reputation. You are your best PR person. You have to go out internally and externally and build your brand.”
Pradyot Sharma, a junior economics and mathematics major from Bengaluru, India, who is the opinions editor of the Tropolitan student newspaper, said he was inspired by Grimes’ “innovative attitude towards journalism.”
“When most people fear the economic threat to print media, Micah Grimes brought a fresh breath of inspiration by reassuring students that this is the best time to be a journalist, as there are multiple avenues where journalists can use their professional skills to bring truth to people,” Sharma said.
While attending TROY, Grimes relied on a football scholarship for tuition and faced financial difficulties. He recalled when he asked someone in confidence for food money. “That’s when you really rely on people, and when you talk about ‘making it,’ there’s people who have been through so much worse than that, but that was just an example of fighting through and making it and believing in what you really want to do and surviving to fight another day.”
According to Sharma, Grimes’ speech had particular value given his real-world success.
“Micah’s talk reflected a simple message of the importance of hard work for success, (and) that resonated better as his life and work reflects that attitude,” Sharma said.
Grimes spoke at Troy University’s annual M. Stanton Evans Symposium on Money, Politics and the Media, which is named for a former faculty member who was a nationally prominent commentator and book author.
A photo gallery of the symposium can be found here.