New Media Blog Post 8: Twitter: Journalism in 140 characters

This is not my first time using Twitter, as you can see in the above screenshot, I have written over five thousand tweets! I use it for some new but not a lot.  Today I decided to try to use Twitter as my primary news source as an experiment and if it goes well, I will make it my permanent primary source of news. Previously, I used Google Reader, which is a RSS feed reader and subscribe to feeds from many sources. Recently however, I have been feeling that I have been focusing on just getting through all the stories and not focusing enough on the content.  RSS feeds are already a “new” way to consume media, but already less people are using them in favor of even more “modern” methods. I was watching the “This Week in Google” podcast today and they were talking about the newly redesigned Google Reader and how many of them think that RSS news is no longer the best way to read news. Instead, they think it is shifting more towards social media sites like Twitter and Google Plus. I thought about it for a while and I realized that most of the sites I subscribe to already have a Twitter account and link to all their articles. So I can get the same content in a different, more convenient form.


            Another major factor in this was that Twitter has recently been how I found out about the most recent major news stories. The most recent, and probably the saddest was the death of Steve Jobs. Tweets of rumors started to trickle in, followed by confirmations, then trending topics and finally, it even brought Twitter down. This is something that hasn’t happened nearly as much recently as it did in Twitter’s early days but still happens and should be looked into to make the site even more reliable. Twitter is also nearly instant, you can write a quick 140 character or less post in seconds and blast it out to the web. Followers can retweet your post to their followers and really easily spread your message. While the “old” way of writing a post of several hundred words, proof reading and then posting takes much longer. I think both are good methods of journalism, and Twitter is a great way to promote posts and just have a tagline to attract people to click the link to the full article.


Another huge advantage to Twitter is that you can post from almost anywhere. Every major smartphone has a twitter app, if not many apps for Twitter, and for those who don’t have a smartphone you can setup your phone to send text messages to “404-04” to tweet, this was actually the original way to post to Twitter. Last but definitely not least, you can go to to post from a computer, so anywhere you are there’s always a way to post to Twitter. This makes it even easier for news to break first on Twitter because it can be post right as the news unfolds on the spot without having go anywhere. Twitter is already huge in journalism; CNN now has people report via Twitter when big news breaks so they can get information before their crews can’t get on the scene. I think this will continue with more and more news organizations using Twitter to get first hand information as it happens and more people have access to the internet in more places.



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