Week9: Twitter Evolving Into Leading News Source

21 Mar

As journalism continues to change and evolve, we as journalists must be able to adapt to these change with ease and grace.  Not conforming is not an option.  If you want to stay in the game, or more importantly ahead of the game, then your best bet is to accept the fact that old school journalism is gone forever.  The paid journalist is no longer the  only one reporting the news.  With social media outlets becoming increasingly popular, Twitter in particular, anyone who has a computer or a smart phone can deliver the news to a wide audience.  As professor Jay Rosen reiterated during a recent address to journalism students in Paris: the “people formerly known as the audience” have the tools to become part of the media now, and that is changing our society in ways that we are only beginning to appreciate.

With each passing year, Twitter has become more important to the journalism profession.  Whereas it used to be viewed upon as just another social media network, it has now evolved into a platform for the latest breaking news.  Often times a news story will break on Twitter before any mainstream media has picked it up — the reason being that now anyone has the capability to report the news.  According to Mathew Ingram of Gigaom, earlier this year researchers looked at the flow of content on Twitter and found that it is far more of a news medium than a traditional social network. For example, news about the shootout at the Discovery Channel building in Maryland broke on Twitter before any mainstream news outlet caught wind.  Through the use of Twitter, witnesses were able to alert the public to what was taking place, whereas, before Twitter, the public would have to wait for a news outlet to broadcast the story.  This is a revolutionary breakthrough in our profession, and journalists are beginning to use this aspect of Twitter to their advantage.

The Poynter website has a great compilation of ways that journalists can take advantage of Twitter in reporting their stories.  It includes ways of networking yourself and your stories so that they reach a wider audience, as well as new ideas on how to obtain more followers.  One aspect that I love about Twitter is that it can sometimes give you a “behind the scenes” look at what goes on with the reporting process, or any process for that matter.  The example given on Poynter is how traffic reporter Jenni Hogan uses Twitter to generate interest in her work.  “If I am watching an accident on  our chopper feed and it’s hard to look  at, I’ll tweet that. If I get  starstruck by someone who is in our  studio, I’ll let my followers know.  It’s more of a behind-the-scenes,” Hogan said. “If I’m covering a  story, then they’re going to get information on  that story, but it’ll  be through my eyes and emotions.” When people react to the information, she replies to them.  This allows her to connect with her audience.

We as journalists are only just beginning to reap the benefits that a social media network such as Twitter offers.  New add-ons like Twitter Lists make it even easier for us to curate and organize the flow of information.  I am excited to see where this new revolution of journalism takes us.

Hashtag for Twitter story: #editingassignment

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