Developing a Digital Identity


Billy Kulpa/Poynter

The term “digital identity” used to bother me. I didn’t like the idea of having an “identity” online, but as I researched the topic more, I realized that a digital ID is more about one’s presence or activity online than a sci-fi kind of identity.

My desire to learn more about digital IDs and the way they play into journalism led me to write an article for The Poynter Institute.

As I wrote on a Facebook discussion board I created about this topic: “As journalists, we’re storytellers. But knowing whether we should be a part of the stories we tell can be difficult. We work to tell the stories of others, but we have stories, too.

I think Facebook, Twitter, etc., can be valuable not necessarily to tell our own stories but to figure out how others are telling stories and interacting with the Web. There are many people who aren’t journalists who spend hours online, creating an identity for themselves on social networking sites.

What are the trends within these social networking sites? What are people thinking about? What makes them so interested in these sites? How can we as journalists captivate their attention in the same way through the stories we tell? These are questions I sometimes think about when I log onto social networking sites”

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about digital identities. Feel free to comment on this blog post, on the Poynter article page, or in the aforementioned Facebook discussion group.

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: