Twitter as a Journalistic Tool

Twitter as a Journalistic Tool

After reading Briggs Ch. 4, post a 100-to-150-word comment on this post answering this question: How did the chapter change the way you think about how you use (or don’t use) Twitter as a professional journalistic tool? Be honest and specific. This is worth 5 class participation points and is due no later than 11:59 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28.

21 thoughts on “Twitter as a Journalistic Tool

  1. I love Twitter, and have been using it since 2008. But there is always room for improvement! Paul Bradshaw on pg. 94 said that Twitter “trains you to look for interesting things around you (and think how you can communicate that in 140 characters).” Being more observant is something that I can always be better about. One of the Drilling Down points on pg. 100 is “Be Instructive.” Some of my most engaged posts have been tips and tricks, but I don’t do them very often. Pg. 102 also says to “post messages that offer some benefit to your followers” – something I should think about every single time I go to tweet.

  2. In relation to my use of Twitter specifically as a journalist, I think I tend to be one of those people who sees their 140 characters as a way to post breaking news updates more than anything else. This chapter really drew my attention to how I should be using Twitter at a tool to connect, which – at the end of the day – is really what Twitter is all about. I hadn’t thought of using Twitter to talk to sources and collect information very much until now. I feel more encouraged now to converse with other Twitter users for the information I need, and to develop links with potential sources via this microblogging medium. Another useful tidbit that struck me from the book was the concept of the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the content I post should be useful information directed to my followers and the community, and I should be striving to do this more often.

  3. When I first heard about Twitter, I assumed it would be a more annoying version of Facebook statuses — minutiae about people you don’t really care about.
    But as Briggs points out, this form of “ambient awareness” is a fast and easy way to connect with people, businesses, social figures, whatever to report news and promote other work.
    Microblogging websites like Twitter allow users to participate in “real-time Web” and cover or spread breaking news at any time and from anywhere, so being in the right place at the right time could make you an “impromptu citizen journalist.”
    However, it is still the writer that makes a story (in print or on Twitter) interesting, so Briggs lays out a few rules to help guide us.
    On page 104, Briggs suggests you first decide the purpose of your Twitter account and tailor your content (including your profile picture and username) accordingly. This seems like common sense, but it actually very good advice.
    The 80-20 rule is something I will personally take away from this chapter. Briggs suggests you use 80% of your tweets to add something to the community and to share in the conversation. The other 20% can be self-promoting. Just by perusing your Twitter feed, you can see that this strategy is employed by businesses and celebrities alike, and is a great way to gain followers.

  4. I’ve never been a user or believer of Twitter before. However, I’ve slowly been converting. I never fully understood the purpose. After reading the chapter, I see that it is in fact an important tool, especially in the journalism world.
    Briggs says, “Two keys to Twitter’s rapid growth are its simplicity and flexibility” (92). This form of microblogging is also compared to text messaging and instant messaging because they are short messages that get the point across. I think that is important because, especially with breaking news, I want to know what is happening in the clearest and fastest way possible. With Twitter’s 140-character limit and quickness to connect with people it is possible. The chapter explains the different purposes and uses for the site. Not only can you share news, but you can also connect with people around the world and share ideas.
    The only other issue I had was I didn’t know what I would “tweet.” Briggs provides five helpful ideas of what to start tweeting (109). I will personally take this advice to start my tweeting experience, and continue to tweet using the 80-20 rule – 80% add something of value to the community, 20% self-promote.

    1. The 80-20 rule really surprised me! Initially I thought that you would be self-promoting more than anything. But really, it’s more about what you can “give” to the community that counts (Briggs). I will have to continue tweeting with this rule as well!

  5. Twitter is a great source of information and news, but I dislike it as a personal form of social media. When I first joined, I hardly tweeted and I never took the time to read my friend’s tweets. Overall, I’m not a huge fan of social media. I’m completely uninterested in posts about what someone’s doing on a particular night like “movie night with the girls” or that someone is going out of town like “Austin for the night”.

    However, my brother introduced me to a valuable feature of twitter. If you want to know what’s going on with something (an event, breaking news etc,) and the news stations haven’t reported anything, you can conduct a search on twitter using a keyword related to the situation.

    For example, when my family and I got on the bridge to go from downtown Miami to South Beach, we ended up getting stuck in a horrible traffic jam. Dozens of police cars and police motorcycles pushed through, and we sat in traffic for nearly two hours when it usually took 15 minutes to get home. To find out what was going on, my brother searched the name of the bridge of Twitter, and he pulled up tweets from other drivers also stuck on the bridge. It turns out Miami PD was conducting a DUI checkpoint at the end of the bridge at the entrance to South Beach. I was unable to come up with this information from a google search of local news stations.

    This chapter assured me that Twitter can be more than just a personal tool to promote people’s personal lives, and it reinforced what my brother taught me about the value of tracking news.

  6. I have never been enamored with the idea of having a constant newsfeed of people’s updates. I was also skeptical about using Twitter, because I did not have anything significant to contribute often enough to this particular type of microblogging. However, after reading about how Andy Carvin transformed the “news process” by making it public, I saw Twitter in a very different light. I found it impressive and incredibly artistic that Carvin had enough creativity to tell an intriguing story with only 140 characters. As I continued to read, I began to realize that Twitter not only transmits breaking news, but also has the capability of telling a fascinating story in a concise manner. When Shawna Redden tweeted about being on a Southwest airplane while it made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, it was a great firsthand account of events that took place. While it is not traditional journalism, Redden’s tweets can be used a primary source when a journalist describes the incident to the public. After reading this chapter, I am excited to build my own audience on Twitter. I realized that it is a useful tool to gain sources for stories and I look forward to utilizing it to the best of my ability.

  7. As I sat reading the microblogging chapter in Mark Brigg’s Journalism Next, I found myself being constantly distracted by my own Twitter feed. For me, Twitter is an aggregation tool unlike any other, giving users the opportunity to fully take advantage of different known news sources and individual reporters.

    While many of the accounts I follow fall into the news category, nearly one-third of the accounts I check each morning are college students who may not be tweeting about breaking news but rather their thoughts in that exact moment. Briggs reinforced both with his 80-20 suggestion and the following quote the importance of bringing your own personality to your tweets, which made me realize journalists’ need for balance on Twitter. Briggs quotes Clive Thompson, saying, “Each little update… is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait” (91).

    I hope to create a Twitter portrait that reflects and balances both my professional and personal interests.

  8. I have never been much of a “tweeter”, but after listening to people in class talk about how they obtained internships via tweeting professionals I started to get interested. The chapter from the book really put it into perspective for me. I realized that although I don’t tweet, I follow news organizations that keep me updated minute by minute. There is no other source out there quite like it. If I’m watching TV I typically have to wait until the 5:00 news before I can gather my info unless there is some sort of urgent news that comes through but that doesn’t happen as often. Twitter takes news from everywhere and depending on my taste and what I’m interested in, I get my own personal minute by minute update in my own selected form.

  9. I used to not be a huge fan of Twitter. Frankly, my daily life isn’t all that interesting, and I didn’t think my followers would care about what I had for lunch. However, once I started my fashion and lifestyle blog Brooke du jour in August 2012, I knew I needed to be more active across various social media channels to drive traffic to my site. I followed my favorite bloggers to see what they were using Twitter for. Now I understand the benefit of connecting with other bloggers and brands via Twitter. I agree with Mark Briggs’ point on page 100 that says, “For journalists, the biggest benefit of microblogging is learning about the audience. By following the people who follow you, you get a glimpse into what your readers are doing, thinking and reading. That’s information that’s never been available to journalists before.” I also use Twitter for purely self-promotional purposes by tweeting out links whenever I do a new post. You could say I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid.

  10. I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon around 2009. For the longest time, I really didn’t see much of a point in receiving constant updates from random people. After creating my fashion blog and becoming a journalist, my mentality completely changed. I use Twitter daily (OK, multiple times daily) to keep up with everything from news to what my friends are doing. Something that struck home with me in the reading was the idea of being able to connect directly with your audience and getting to know them and their needs as well as them being able to get to know you, as a journalist and author. By becoming better acquainted with my audience, I can better serve them and their needs, and therefore, be more successful.

    Another point I found interesting was the quote that Meredith discussed from Clive Thompson. Individually, tweets are insignificant, but when they are put together as a whole, they paint a picture of the user. I think it’s really important as a journalist to hone in on your specialty and capitalize on that. Your image and credibility is everything, so you need to be aware of how you are marketing yourself.

    One last thought: I find it interesting the fact that Facebook updates are considered microblogging as well. To me, there is an entirely different culture with Facebook microblogging than there is with microblogging on Twitter. People get annoyed if you constantly update your Facebook, but on Twitter it is more or less expected. It’s interesting to me how different the cultures are between the two websites, yet their concepts and founding principles are very similar.

  11. For a long time, I didn’t understand Twitter. I thought of it as a profile of Facebook status updates and didn’t like the thought of someone knowing what I was doing at all times. Then I saw celebrities using it and began to think of it more as a brand building tactic. Finally, one day, I caved and created a Twitter. I immediately followed different news organizations and reporters and began to use it as a source for news–even before we talked about this in previous journalism classes. While I check my Twitter often, I do not Tweet as much as I should. After reading this chapter, I will definitely start tweeting more. I think Twitter is a great tool to help build a brand for myself–especially as a journalist. I love how Twitter combines facts and opinions. For example, during the last election I would constantly watch my Twitter feed throughout each debate. Because Twitter is so instant, it is constantly changing. I think this aspect of Twitter is very similar to the world of journalism. Who knows what will follow in the footsteps of microblogging.

  12. I don’t even remember when I first made my Twitter account, but I know I had little use for it. I never really used it and let it sort of sit there in the dark corners of the internet for a couple of years it feels. Even today I still haven’t really started using the account, but I know I really should if I’m going to be taken seriously in journalism.

    For me, using Twitter often feels like a chore. It’s just something uninteresting to me. The chapter really makes me rethink my usage of the tool, and perhaps I should really get into the habit of tweeting once a day, or at least once every other day.

  13. As I heard the talk about Twitter, I was reluctant to start an account. The idea of having 2 to 3 of the same social mediums of different names was useless to me. About a year ago, I gave in… and turned away within a month.

    Deciding the purpose of a twitter account as Briggs discussed(104) was an eye opener for me in this chapter… I was following others who didn’t have a purpose on Twitter. I observed post and I tried to post things that were similar. Those kind that bombard our newsfeed with useless information…As Briggs explained the 80-20 rule, I realized I was doing more of a 100% of useless self-promoting. Since our class discussion on Thursday, I decided to give Twitter a second chance, later that day I put the 80-20 rule into practice. I’m not sure if many read it, but I felt my post was very newsworthy and my twitter presence had a purpose, that day at least, for those in the SMU community.

  14. To be honest, I originally hated the idea of Twitter. Up until a little over a year ago, I refused to even have one until my friends made one for me. However, I never even logged into it again until I took reporting I with Professor Barta and tweeting was counted as a homework assignment. The book brings up the idea of “ambient awareness” or “ambient intimacy” (91) which social scientists say is the idea of being in constant contact or constantly aware of others. For many, this is what they love about Twitter but I personally had an issue with it. I don’t want people to know what I’m doing all the time and I don’t care what other people are doing either! It wasn’t until I studied abroad in London this summer when I truly understood and experienced the efficiency of Twitter. The Spice Girls were hosting a press conference to promote the new musical based on all of their songs. Being an avid Spice Girls fan since a very young age, it was imperative that I was there to see them. They were only posting details on their Twitters so I started following all of them and eventually figured out the time and the location of the press conference. Yes, I did get to see them thanks to Twitter. As I haven taken more journalism courses, my understanding and appreciation o Twitter in relation to news has grown immensely. I would definitely agree that Twitter is a key journalistic tool in today’s society and I do think it is important that, as journalists, Twitter is constantly incorporated in our work as story tellers. I don’t think I’ll ever start tweeting about personal things but in relation to journalism, consider me on the Twitter band wagon.

  15. When I first heard of Twitter I just thought this is going to be like never ending Facebook statuses and I was FAR from interested. It wasn’t until in one of my Sports Management classes they stressed the importance of Twitter as a tool to get noticed for job opportunities or to connect with the people you meet who are already in the business.
    In the chapter it talks about how the primary purpose of social networks is not about publishing, it’s about connecting. The 80-20 rule it mentions as a guideline to follow when tweeting gives more light on this concept.
    Because you can retweet interesting posts you can introduce your followers not only to new topics but possibly new people to follow that fit their interests.
    Because you only get 140 characters in a tweet it allows users to get their information or updates on trending stories instantly without having to read through a whole article.
    The microblogging concept is blowing up for this era so it is important to be involved in it by tweeting on topics we are passionate about.
    Although I have been tweeting for a year or so now, I did enjoy the part of the chapter covering what you should tweet. I began by tweeting topics of news and sports I was interested in or retweeting but soon I was able to find my voice. The tips they give are helpful in doing so as well.

  16. I’m a little late commenting, but I’ve been on Twitter since before @Oprah. The first person I followed was a BBC journalist. I have 915 followers. So nope, not much change. Might need to work on the 80/20 thing though or at least check my percentages.

  17. After reading the informative tutorial, I learned just how important twitter really is to journalists.I really had no clue just how useful twitter can be in order to reach wide audiences. Initially I put twitter in the same category as Facebook. Just in the sense that it is a useless way for people to ramble publicly. But from a professional standpoint, twitter can be used for so much more than that. Now that I am aware of all of the different ways twitter can be used to “brand” yourself, I’m most definitely going to give it another shot!

  18. Updated Response: I can’t recall how many twitter accounts I’ve had in the past and deleted because I didn’t understand it. To me I saw twitter as a an extended version of Facebook, in the sense that it was just another outlet for people to use to rant. But after reading this chapter, and experimenting with twitter again for the past 4-5 days, it now completely makes sense to me. Microblogging is essential for obtaining information all over the world. I am able to connect with news in my hometown, as well as keep up with issues going on from my tribe heritage. As Briggs highlights from a journalism lecturer (Bradshaw), “One great thing about twitter is… it trains you to look for interesting things around you.” Now that I am understanding the uses and purposes of twitter, I am constantly absorbing interesting information that I find relevant to my own interests (AKA who I am following). I’m also appreciative for the fact that I am able to use it as a way to quickly learn about current/breaking news; as Briggs mentions “the purpose of using social media networks is connecting.” Twitter, even in a span of a couple days, has given me the ability to connect, which is so useful to everything (branding, and crowdsourcing). I’ve also used tips from the chapter to apply to my use of twitter, and already I’m building followers. Very helpful and insightful chapter!

  19. I don’t think I truly understood the importance of twitter from a journalistic point of you. By reading about how twitter break breaking news, even in court rooms makes me realize how inactive I am on Twitter. Even with a maximum of of 140 characters, Twitter is able to share and inform the latest topics to the public. For example, I had no idea that from Janis Krum’s twitter pic she was able to share one of the most captivating picture of the 2009 famous “Miracle on the Hudson” plane crush.I barely use my twitter for news or even to share my stories, so after reading this chapter I defiantly will make more of an effort.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s