Social media’s influence on jobs and lives, especially those of women who work in sports media, can be overwhelming.
Four panelists – Christy Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score/Chicago sports radio, Alyson Footer of MLB.com and Maria Taylor, reporter for the SEC Network – along with moderator Vicki Michaelis of the University of Georgia, led a lively discussion of how they cope during the “Speaking Socially” breakfast panel at the AWSM 2016 convention.
When prompted about memorable tweets that caught the panelists off guard, Chirinos told of fans, angry about a losing Miami Hurricanes football team, lashing out at coach Al Golden and her on Twitter.
“It’s hard to read `Die (expletive),’ when all you’ve done is tweet a score,” she said.
DiCaro, whose appearance on a video, “More than Mean” with ESPN’s Sarah Spain, sparked a national conversation about trolls and women in sports media. She said she has been called vile names and threatened on social media. But the most frightened she’s been was when a guy sent her a photo of the entrance to her residence.
“There are days I’m completely Zen,” she said. “Other days, I have a bad day at work (or with) my husband. To me, it’s an ongoing struggle. I don’t get a ton of support at work. I am the only woman at the station.”
Panelists and attendees told of receiving tweets with their home address listed along with death threats, being sent a photo of their face cropped onto a porn star’s body, and vicious insults.
Suggestions from panelists and attendees ranged from reporting serious threats to your employer to taking up an offer of help from the team you’re covering to retweeting the mean messages.
“You can’t believe how many guys came to my defense,” the Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan told the panel and the audience.
Creativity and humor can help.
At the end of a long day and hobbled by a migraine, sideline reporter Taylor mistakenly used the word “productition” rather than “productivity” on air during a sideline interview after the Rose Bowl.
“As soon as I get to Twitter, I’m going to get dragged,” she said to herself, and she was.
So Taylor said she wrote the word out, gave it a definition and put it on a t-shirt.
“You’re going to mess up,” she said. “You just have to own it and move on.”
Panelists agreed it’s tricky when home life and work boundaries get blurred. Chirinos said while onvacation, her husband forced her off Twitter by abruptly deleting her account. Some separate their public and private lives with separate accounts, like Twitter for one and Instagram and Facebook for another.
Still, finding a work/life balance can be elusive, said Footer.
“You feel like you want to be able to stay up on everything that’s going on,” she said, “but at what point is it enough?”
– Meri-Jo Borzilleri