Social Media in a Crisis

11:15am-12:15pm – Sunday, Feb 17 – World Room (Third Floor) at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

As more people flock to social media for up-to-the-minute updates of breaking news, social media professionals must use increasing care when reporting and broadcasting news in this fast-paced news environment. Panelists discuss tools, tips and lessons learned during high-profile news cycles over the past year, including Hurricane Sandy and the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.


Carla Zanoni ( @carlazanoni) is’s Social Media Editor and is an award-winning multimedia journalist who has covered New York City news for nearly a decade, breaking news about crime, transportation, politics and government, and the occasional animal on the loose in Manhattan. Carla recently received a Newswomen’s Club of New York award for her team reporting on Occupy Wall Street. She also won two New York Press Association awards for a two-part series on street prostitution and was part of a team that won a NYPA award for reporting on religion. She has also written for The New York Times, The Amsterdam News, City and State (formerly called City Hall), Our Town, West Side Spirit, Corduroy magazine, Manhattan Times, Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider and The Bronx Free Press.


Caitlin Thompson (@caitlin_thomps) is’s Executive Editor. She helmed the station’s digital and social presence during Hurricane Sandy. During the 2012 election cycle, she served as the station’s Political Editor and became an expert in the art of the online debate chat. She covered the 2006 and 2008 elections for The Washington Post, where she produced the daily Post Politics Podcast and Citizen K Street, an investigative series on the rise of lobbying. From there, Caitlin went on the campaign trail for TIME, where she profiled the McCain campaign’s resurgence in New Hampshire, the Barackstar effect and how to eat a Huckaburger, among other stories. Caitlin graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism and is the titleholder of the women’s tennis team’s pizza eating contest.

Bob Markovich is Home & Yard Editor for Consumer Reports, where he plans and produces home-related content for more than 100 products, from air conditioners and washing machines to drills, flooring, mowers and tractors, paints, and—yes—home generators. Bob recently spearheaded digital coverage of CR’s generator tests by pushing out storm-preparedness advice and videos online before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy. He also engaged consumers just after Sandy via CR’s Facebook page by asking them to share their biggest generator frustrations—then answered them with tips on a blog and on Facebook. A 33-year publishing veteran, Bob graduated from SUNY @ Binghamton (long, long ago) and has specialized in service journalism that includes cars, an ongoing passion. Using social media to build engagement and increase CR’s relevance by enlisting more consumer experiences is his—and CR’s—challenge.

Kelly Sullivan (@kellsullivan1) is the Social Media Coordinator & Mobile Manager for the Hartford Courant and Fox CT. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and began her career as a web producer at the Hartford Courant and Fox CT in 2011. She loves working in an integrated newsroom that includes a newspaper as well as broadcast news. Kelly appears regularly in Fox CT’s 4 p.m. newscast talking about the latest trends in social media and the interactive content produced for local news stories.

Marilyn Zayfert (@mzayfert) is the president of illumiNET Digital Marketing, which she founded in 2009 after observing the broad reach of social media. illumiNET builds and implements online media marketing strategies and campaigns, social media training, enterprise social media, and event promotion. Marilyn’s desire to help her community has led to a number of projects with non-profit organizations on Staten Island. She became best known for her outreach work via social media after Hurricane Sandy when she used her knowledge of leveraging social media communication to amplify awareness, raise funds and spread information about Staten Island and public events.  Marilyn is also the founder and curator of the online blog Staten Island NYC Living. She lives in the Lighthouse Hill area of Staten Island with her husband and daughter.


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