Twitter opens new two-way path for journalists to report and receive news
For news reports, what are the most important strengths of print and online papers compared to "citizen journalists"?
Social media help reporters find people affected by topics they cover. Find this type of quote (not necessarily from Twitter) in local news pages or the feature/lifestyle section.
Discuss the differences between commenting on an article by letter or e-mail versus a tweet or Facebook message. List a few benefits and drawbacks of each format type.
In this age of fast-flowing information at our fingertips, literally, journalists can have truly personal connections with readers or viewers. Direct access, earlier smoothed by e-mail, has become more of a two-way "conversation" thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Reporters use those platforms to solicit ideas and comments, to find sources, to build networks and to promote their work. They also provide live coverage on Twitter, 140 characters at a time -- as the Associated Press, CNN, New York Times and Los Angeles Times did two months ago during U.S. Senate hearings on the president's successful nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice.
Social media also let anyone be among the first to report news and events as they happen, such as health reform town halls, protest rallies, terrorist explosions and a jet landing on the Hudson River in New York last January. Grassroots reports proved especially valuable as Iran's government tried to block journalists from covering protests after a presidential election in June. Mainstream media relayed tweets (as Twitter messages are called), YouTube videos and other online reports from "citizen journalists."
All this is changing how many journalists see their relationship with audience members. "We're finding a pool of people who very much want to interact," says Ted Anthony, a national editor for the AP who supervised Twitter coverage of Sotomayor's confirmation by eight reporters. The wire service asked readers, via tweets, what parts of the story interested them most. "We've proven with this experiment that if we have good reliable info, even in fragments, we assemble a picture at the end of the day that has relevance and context," the editor adds. DePaul University in Chicago this fall began the first college-level journalism course focused solely on Twitter and its applications.
Twitter co-founder says: "We were surprised at how quickly and expertly news organizations -- places like the New York Times, CNN and so on -- began to use Twitter. They just jumped in and impressed us with how they engaged." -- Biz Stone (@biz)
Editor's invitation: "You can suggest ideas, stories, features and inform the reporting of ongoing stories [via Twitter]. . . . It's yet another effort to more fully engage readers." -- John A. Byrne, Business Week editor-in-chief (@JohnAByrne)
Blogger says: "Journalists are using Twitter to engage with their audience, connect with sources and continue building their personal brands. The 140-character format forces writers to focus their attention and get to the point quickly." -- Leah Betancourt, digital community manager at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis (@l3ahb3tan)
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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