One thing I have learned over time is that most television news personalities are geeks of one kind or another and Christine Maddela is no exception. A recent transplant from Tennessee who currently can be found doing the traffic and on-site reporting for NBC10, she has taken her geek-like passion for journalism and combined it with the social media platform Twitter to take reporting and interacting with her audience to another level.
Christine was kind enough to answer a few questions via email about how she uses Twitter, embracing Philly and her love of journalism.
What brought you from Nashville, where you were an anchor, to Philadelphia?
My career has taken me to cities all over the country. After four and a half years at WKRN in Nashville, I jumped at the opportunity to join the NBC10 team in the nation’s 4th largest media market. I’m thrilled to be here.
How has Philly treated you so far?
Philadelphia is a city full of history. I love it! I’m having a great time exploring the city and surrounding areas. Great people, great sports, great food, (that’s huge for me. I love to eat) what’s not to love?! Plus, I like the Philly accent- pronouncing the word “water” like “wooder”, or is it spelled “wuh-dur”? Haha!
You use Twitter a tremendous amount as a reporter. Were you an early adopter of the social media platform?
I’ve been on Twitter for about three years now. I definitely wasn’t the first one on the Twitter train, but after using it for years, it’s become a staple in what I do. It’s a great tool when used effectively.
I read that you used Twitter to break the news of the death of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair. That must have been a pretty big deal.
Steve McNair was a legend in Nashville. His murder stunned the city and the country as a whole. Shortly after his death, police sources confirmed to me that the man shot and killed was in fact Steve McNair. I was personally shocked, having just seen him the week before, and professionally knew it was my responsibility to inform the public about what happened. It was July 4, 2009 around 2:00pm. Our newscast didn’t air until 5:00pm.
That’s when I turned to Twitter to share the tragic news. I had only been on Twitter for a couple of months. That story showed me the power of social media. I realized that when used properly and ethically, traditional news media and social media can merge to meet people where they are- on their cell phones, on their laptops, on their tablets.
We as journalists are first and foremost public servants charged with informing viewers, readers, and listeners about what’s going on in their neighborhood, city, country, and world. Twitter and other social media tools can help us do that. It’s not a one way street, however. On social media I can get to know viewers in a way I never could before. I can find out what’s important to them. I receive news tips from the people who live and work in the community I serve.
You are one of the few local television personalities that extensively talks with fans on Twitter. Has this lead to any awkward exchanges with followers?
Answering an awkward question about awkward exchanges with awkward people is awk-ward (sing song voice). LOL!
No, not really. I actually enjoy meeting my “tweeps” in real life. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said something like, “Hey! I’m ‘at baseball fan 37 oh four’ on Twitter! The one with the black poodle named Sammy!” Then we’ll chat about our Twitter conversations, and leave happy to have met outside the Twitterverse.
*Side note: The aforementioned Twitter name is fictional. I’m sure there is a black poodle named Sammy out there, but again, I just made that up as an example to protect the identities of the dog owners I interact with on Twitter
You are quite the journalism geek. What is it about the news that you find so interesting?
I definitely am. Journalism is a profession I believe in and am passionate about. I have been blessed to make a career out of something I love. For the past ten years I have followed that career and have made memories and witnessed history in the making.
What advice would you give to someone looking at journalism as a career?
You gotta love it. There is something about this business that draws in people for the wrong reason, especially on the television broadcast side. I don’t know if it is the allure of the TV lights or the perception of glamour, but there are too many people who say “I am on TV” instead of “I am a journalist” when asked what they do for a living.
The journalists feel that adrenaline rush, answer that call, and stay awake for forty-eight straight hours waiting for that perfect shot, that perfect sound bite. Good journalists don’t exploit a grieving family. They pay homage to that fallen soldier, give voice to the voiceless, and help prevent tragedy from happening again. Good journalists strengthen their communities through education and awareness. We stay in the business for the love of the First Amendment. We are in love with our craft. At the end of the day, we just want to tell you a good story.
Christine Maddela on Twitter