Digital identity for journalists

Educational Technology2 Comments

Nobody knows who I am

As part of a project we have running with the journalism program, specifically around their international work placements in the 3rd year, we’ve been asked to present our thinking on managing a professional online identity.

Professional online identity management

Our best articulation of the idea to date is found in Leigh’s post: Online identity, workspaces and folios – a celebration of awareness

An example of that being a teaching principle in the College is found in Ekaterina and Lucinda’s course Professional Communication Studio.

We also hope that the Professional Writing and Editing program will continue to develop the principle in their work, as they have begun to with their development of the Student Generated Website project.

And we expect that the principle – that the search result for your name, will become a general framework for the School of Media and Communications generally.


Let’s look at some examples of journalism students successfully managing their professional online identities. The following links go to Google search results on the person’s name:

Ellen Seah
Jarni Blakkarly
Caterina Hrysomallis
Ellijahna Victoria
Ashleigh McMillan
Xiaoshan Zhao (Jen)
Finbar O’Mallon
Alexander Darling
Rebeca Colquhoun
Jarni Blakkarly
Alicia Barker


If you have a common name, or a name the same as a celebrity or other significant online identity, consider a professional pen name, alias, or the possibility of claiming your name over another.

Notice how only a few of these searches reveal image results in the websearch summary. Images in the search result can help determine you, especially if you’re competing for the identity.

Compare the above searches with a well known Australian journalist’s search result, and notice the differences.

Or, for those covering the violence in Syria and how such an issue impacts online profile, consider SyrianGirlPartisan, Thierry Meysssan, Eva Bartlet or Vanessa Beeley.

What are the things you can do to gradually shape your online identity into something like these? Or, how will you manage online identity if you are covering contentious issues that may impact on your future work?

If you’re likely to become an investigative journalist, you might want to carefully consider a deeper level of online identity management, including personal safeguards to privacy and security – for yourself and your potential sources. For example, consider email encryption at a minimum.

If you want to have content about you deleted, this is pretty difficult and, depending on the context of the content – can be impossible. Here’s a link to Google’s not-so-helpful advice. Here’s the European Union passing a law that Google drags its feet on. Then there’s Facebook and the difficulty there.. Search online identity management, but try not to let the anxiety build. Just look, have a think.

To help you think big picture, try this video and see if you can relate it to your personal questions. The other videos by that author are well worth considering as well.

Looking forward to meeting you all, and hopefully having a good discussion over your questions.

Image by Kieren Lamb on Flickr






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4 years ago

HI Leigh and Zaina

Really appreciate your efforts today. Always good to hear from Pros!

The students said after you left that they really enjoyed that part of today ! so that’s great!!!

Thank you so much.