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Twitter makes you a better journalist

Posted by: Nasreen

Nasreen

The social media platform Twitter never really appealed to me until I learned more about it in class the other day. I always thought it accumulated unnecessary updates every second and the limited number of characters was so restricting. But getting to know more about twitter has made me realise that this media platform is a valuable resource for print and online journalists.

Journalists everywhere are beginning to understand not only the reach of social media but also its potential as a newsroom. The rise of social media has allowed journalists to begin sourcing for news from several places and discussing a different way of using alternate tools.

Social media is where today’s news agenda is being set, and topics discussed on Facebook Pages or trending on Twitter are where the day’s news emerges. So instead of ignoring it, as a journalist, I think it’s best to embrace it and get involved in this social platform.

Twitter offers many exciting applications including tweetfind, which helps you connect with businesses and people in your field. Another app is tweetmeme which shows you the hottest stories and images on twitter at that time. This could be a very handy tool.

Other interesting apps include tweettag, tweetbig and twitterfountain which will allows you to view tweets by person or keywords in real-time on big screen and is useful for shows and events. However this may need a lot of bandwidth.

Twitter can definitely make you a better journalist as it is an expanding source of inspiration and ideas for more stories. For example the story on the death of Osama bin Laden could have lead to more reports on whether Al Qaeda really existed or if the Americans created him for their benefit.

Twitter provides a platform where news is reported first, for example news of the January 2009 Hudson plane crash broke out on twitter 15 minutes before it was reported on mainstream media. The first tweet from the crash, four minutes after the plane went down was from @Manolantern: “I just watched a plane crash into the hudson river in manhattan.” Three minutes after that tweet, photos were posted of the ferry going to pick up plane passengers.

If you’re just starting out as a journalist or are a freelancer, Twitter allows you to get your name out there and make connections. As a journalist, one of your most valuable resources is your network of contacts, and Twitter is an easy way of finding people who can help you get your stories. The more followers you have on Twitter shows how many people are interested in what you have to say.

The beauty of Twitter is that it allows you to gain immediate responses to your articles, much like all online media. When you post a link on Twitter you can see how many retweets it has gained, how many click-throughs and comments it received and you can actively interact with your viewers. Even a lack of response to something you tweet is helpful, as it gives you an indication that it wasn’t catchy enough.

Twitter gives you the chance to exercise your writing skills as an online journalist as it’s quite a challenge to report informative information effectively in under 140 characters. So it makes journalists tweet the important aspects of a story and not ramble on unnecessarily.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Jawellnofine
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written by Jawellnofine, May 27, 2011
Is this not just a rationalisation to justify the use of a technology to further one’s means?
Is the use of technology not just another ‘familiarity breeds complacency’?
Like walking into a bank and not being able to carry out one's business because the computers are down: WTF!?
Jude
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written by Twit, May 27, 2011
@jawellnofine I think of Twitter as a realtime information network - a vehicle for the carrying of other data and media. Open real-time publishing and conversation has disrupted several sectors - from sport (see Tsotobe being sacked for tweeting and NBA players being banned from the same), to media (for breaking news like Haiti and the death of Michael Jackson) to activism (see its role in the the Arab Spring this year). I would have liked to see Nasreen go into more depth about how South African media organisations are using (or not) best practices for J-tweeting.

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