Twitter and Journalism

As much as I’d like to pretend, 26 twitter followers doesn’t make me internet famous. And while my mom may beg to differ, those 26 people aren’t exactly hanging on the edge of their seats, waiting to see the next thing I’ll tweet (which usually isn’t that profound, if I’m being honest).

Still, for an established journalist or a person who has made themselves known in their field, Twitter is a wonderful resource for gathering information and quotes that are conveniently packaged in under 140 characters.

Finally, word vomit has been somewhat conquered.

The most important feature Twitter has to journalists, in my opinion, is not its ability to gather information, but the way it allows writers to stay connected to their readers.

Like Steve Buttry, author of “10 ways Twitter is valuable to journalists” wrote, Twitter allows journalists to “crowdsource [sic],” or, have conversations with their followers.

Every story that’s published and linked to on Twitter has the capacity to start a conversation, which may lead to a follow-up story or even an entirely different angle on the issue written about.

While this is all useful, it’s only helpful, in my opinion, if the Tweeter has an established online presence. Which, with my haphazard tweets about all-nighters and wonderful Late Night food, won’t happen for awhile.

For a person who doesn’t have an established presence, browsing through the tags and tweeting at the people that made those comments can be just as helpful. Buttry mentioned this in his article as a way to “search for sources,” which is incredibly useful.

Twitter, which, I’ll be honest, I thought was really unnecessary when it first came out, has become an important tool for sharing news and staying connected with readers.

Now if I could only find someone willing to discuss with me the sorry state of Late Night’s bacon, I’ll be golden.

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Journalism: Not as Dead as I Thought

I never thought a writing conference would make me feel as hopeful about my major as this one did.

Journalism is a dying field.

I’d hear this no matter where I went: articles online listing the least profitable careers and how long it’ll take me to pay off my student loans, friends telling me I should major in something that wouldn’t be gone in the next two years and even relatives at the dinner table who’d like another engineer in the family.

I guess it’s a testament to my stubbornness that I went on to be a broadcast journalism major. That and math just isn’t my forte.

So it was refreshing, to say the least, when speaker Dean Baquet said the opposite of everyone I’d ever read and listened to: journalism isn’t dying. In fact, it’s never been more alive.

“I am envious of your age and the opportunities you have,” Baquet said. With the information age upon us, journalists these days have more tools at their disposal than ever before. Journalism is “in need of transformation,” according to Baquet, and that is happening right now with the addition of videos, sound files and even interactive graphs in stories.

The world today is allowing journalists to be more creative and fostering that growth. Baquet said journalism students have the “opportunity to do things differently and excitingly,” and I whole-heartedly agree with him.

If I think a six second Vine video will add another layer to my story, I can do that. If I think a photo collage will help my readers understand what I’m trying to say better, I can do that. If I think a link to a baby animals slideshow will put the people reading this in a better mood, hey, I can do that too.

Journalism has to constantly adapt to keep up with their audience, and it’s only a matter of making sure one doesn’t fall off the train than whether the profession is dying or not.

Listening to Baquet speak put more faith in my major, to put it bluntly. People will always want to absorb news, I just have to learn to be more creative about it.

Plagiarism

In the writing community–and any community, really–plagiarism is one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed. It makes the original creator feel violated and can permanently damage the reputation of the writer that plagiarized.

Plagiarizing can be so tempting and, with the age of the internet, amazingly easy. A friend of mine, who will remained unnamed, plagiarized a poem when he was in elementary school for a poetry contest. He actually ended up doing really well and even made regional’s and wasn’t caught because the poem he used was written by “anonymous” on the internet.

With moments like these, where the reward seems to outweigh the cost, it can lead many to want to commit plagiarism, but the cost far outweighs any possible reward.

Getting caught plagiarizing someone’s else’s work as a journalist can be a death sentence. A journalist has to have a career built upon trust between the writer,  the editor and the audience. Without that trust, it’s difficult to get someone to read the work.

It’s even harder to build up that trust after it was lost.

Save yourself the heartache–don’t plagiarize.

Looking at another friend of mine–called J–he was caught plagiarizing but had much harder consequences. Another student copied off of his work at class and the student was caught and implicated him in the plagiarism.  Unfortunately for my friend, he had to write a paper on why plagiarism is bad and received a zero on the assignment, in accordance with Penn State’s no tolerance policy.

While it stinks for my friend, I am glad that universities have policies like those in place. The real world is not like an elementary school poetry contest. There are consequences for taking someone else’s work, and they can be really detrimental.

In short, do us all a favor and use your own ideas and don’t make anything up. What you have to say is far more impactful than a regurgitation of someone else’s work.

Snow and Newspapers Do Not Mix

Reading the news for me isn’t so much a time constraint problem as it is an attention span problem. Long gone are the days when I’ll suffer through reading something that doesn’t interest me or is written like a textbook. I suffered enough in my high school chemistry class. Let me have this one freedom.

That doesn’t mean I don’t read the news. On the contrary, I’d like to think I’m a pretty well informed person, though my downfall is I’m usually only well-informed about topics that I’m interested in. To become a better journalist, I definitely have to work on reading about events on a wide spectrum.

Ugh. Guess that means I have to start clicking on all those political tweets.

Or pay attention at family reunions.

But that’s the beauty of growing up in the technological age. I have all these resources at my finger tips–from twitter to

Above: perfect conditions for newspaper reading. Not shown: the 30 people I nailed with my paper as the wind whipped it around. Image found on http://www.stresstips.com/managing-the-stress-out-of-workplace-meetings/

family–to find out what’s going on in the world today. At the risk of this sounding like a geek-out-about-the-internet post, I’ll just stop at saying the internet is amazing and oh my God do I waste so much of my life on it. Everything from sites like Yahoo! to CNN are only a click away–it’s so useful.

But it’s just everywhere and it’s so convenient and useful  to read the news with. Why would I struggle with a newspaper in the oh so wonderful State College winter weather when I can whip out my phone and check Twitter or The Daily Collegian online and achieve the same thing? That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading newspapers when I have free time, it’s just I’d much rather trip over a crack in the sidewalk than smack someone in the face with my wad of paper and ink.

And believe me, that’s happened more times than I’d like to admit, though whether I’m talking about the former or the latter I’ll leave up to interpretation.