While Twitter was, first and foremost, an explosive online fad embraced mostly by teenagers and media pop-culture enthusiasts, it has now become a beneficial tool for journalists today.
In addition to highlighting the newest Justin Bieber single or movie premiere, Twitter provides a network of information, sources, and contacts ready for the gathering. Journalists such as Anderson Cooper, Barbara Walters, and Katie Couric have been taking advantage of Twitter’s potential by exploring the opportunities the social media site has to offer.
Twitter Journalism is a blog that focuses on the impact of Twitter on the field of journalism. It provides tips, how to’s, and news on the subject. In one particular post on the blog, Rebecca Fiorentino, a graduate student at DePaul University, discusses three tips/reasons journalists have turned to Twitter and how they benefit:
1.) Finding News. Because Twitter is literally updated even as you read this, news breaks hit Twitter hard and fast. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, in an interview with the Huffington Post’s Rory O’Connor, used the news of the tremors in California in 2009 as an example. “The first Twitter report of the ground shaking during recent tremors in California…came nine minutes before the first Associated Press alert,” Stone said.
Staying up-to-date with news on Twitter also helps journalists predict what that means for the news of tomorrow.
2.) Networking. Every Monday between 7 and 10 p.m. central time, journalists “gather” together on Twitter via the hashtag #journchat to talk anything and everything news, journalism, etc. They can discuss recent news events, trends in journalism, ethics, anything. This also helps journalists find other people of note, news sources, and fellow journalists to follow and helps them gain more followers.
3.) Self-promotion. Journalists can get their name out there by posting links to articles, blogs, and the publications they work for. But in addition to advertising their work, they can also create an online personality and gain a following. By showing some character – like cheering for a certain sports team or posting a photo of a pet – journalists seem less distant, more human and, thus, more likeable.
Much like a notepad and a pen, a Twitter account is rapidly becoming a ‘must-have’ for a journalist. So what do you think about journalism diving headfirst into the online word of Twitter? Do you think there are any potential downsides to this growing trend?