Non-journalist Angelica Das still delivers the news

Angelica Das of the AU Center for Social Media visits NSLC’s professional newswriting class. (Courtesy of Adam Dexter)

“I am not a journalist,” confessed Angelica Das to a group of twenty or so teenage professional newswriting hopefuls. And yet, she still had some “hard-hitting” information to offer students.

Das, the Associate Director at the Center for Social Media at American University, kicked off her presentation by asking students to take a mind-trip back to 2000, to a time when any talk of an iPhone was met with “What the heck is that?” Das, a self-professed avid tweeter emphasized the importance of social media in a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter. “Social media is how you use the media to reach audiences and connect to people,” she explained.

Das, in addition, works at the Center of Social Media, a program at American University that stresses the importance of online social connections and teaches students to spread news via a new kind of media.

At the Center, Das organizes the annual “Making Your Media Matter” conference, composed of various short films relating to topical social issues. Of these films are documentaries.

“The founders of the [AU Center for Social Media] believe in the power of documentary films to address social issues,” Das said. “Independent documentary films have a really important role in providing public information.”

A documentarian herself, Das acknowledges the difference in journalism and documentary making. However, she is sure in her belief that both professions strive to accomplish the same goals: to inform the audience and promote an independent voice.

“The presentation was very interesting. In today’s world, social media plays a large role in the journalistic game,” National Student Leadership Conference professional newswriting Michigan City, Ind. student Jenny Gronemeyer said.