Twitter as a Tool

When I first began using Twitter, hashtags seemed to be a joke. Always envisioning the verbal context of my tweets, it was humorous to say my hashtags aloud, particularly when they were quirky ones, incapable of producing search results from another tweeter if I clicked on them.

Three years of tweeting later and I’ve finally begun to not only use and understand hashtags, but to rely on them to provide me with further information. The process is now more along the lines of notice trend, compose tweet, use hashtag, click on hashtag, come to life five minutes, eight Twitter profiles and several replies later.

Twitter, via trends and the following of many credible and prestigious news outlets, is my primary source of news. In this sense, I connect with journalist Mallary Tenore, who also says Twitter’s 140 character limit taught her that every word literally counts. Just as Tenore says in her article on how Twitter has made her better, I’ve learned to consolidate my words and be overall more efficient with the English language.

I’ve also attained a better understanding of Twitter as a tool for informative conversation, rather than a forum to just spill your thoughts. As Steve Buttry points out in his piece, hashtags on Twitter are actually an ‘advanced search feature’ which allow for immediate access to breaking news, as I pointed out in a previous blog post.

 

Fact, Fiction or Fabrication

A prevalent issue within journalism today is the falsity of both sources and information, a form of plagiarism which is by no means new. However, the growth and recognition of this form of plagiarism can largely be attributed to the rapid developments in technology as well as the increasing use of online outlets for reporting.

Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter allow for the expedient spread of information–information which is not necessarily true. These outlets don’t always guarantee that someone is who they claim to be and can serve as major proponents of false quotations, causing news organizations and individuals who do not perform sound fact/source checks to use tweets and Facebook statuses as information for a story. A prime example of this was the serge of Facebook statuses following the Sandy Hook school shooting sharing a message supposedly from Morgan Freeman.

This situation shows that the attribution associated with a quote requires a source check more than ever before, as the true source of a falsification can get lost in the millions of likes, shares and retweets it gets. The expedience of both the sharing of a quotation as well as the debunking of such is astounding. Technology may have been behind the spread of this particular fabrication, but it is also how so many people (in this case it was the camp of Morgan Freeman) are able to denounce quotations and stories which are plagiarized.

“If a news outlet doesn’t have credibility it doesn’t matter what else it has.” -Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterson), HBO’s The Newsroom

Though this example of falsification appeared to be strictly accidental by most of those who shared the quote, there are many cases in which the intent behind false information or quote attribution can’t always be confirmed as innocent. I have made a point to follow a story regarding the school newspaper at the University of Alabama where The Crimson White, as the paper is called, has recently been accused of fabricating quotes.

The plagiarism committed by staff at The Crimson White has caused various blogs (not the most hard-hitting example of journalism, but Total Frat Move being one of them) which report any second hand information from this newspaper to blatantly attribute it to the paper and state that it may not necessarily be trustworthy. If lack of credibility is not the worst nightmare for a news outlet, I’m not sure what is.

With the number of self-proclaimed reporters on blogs and social media outlets, fact check and source citation is more essential than ever. My thoughts: always double check before spreading the information.

Chelsea E’s Media Diet

Until beginning college, my typical response to anyone asking what my ‘favorite read’ is was simply that I do not read for pleasure. Until last year I would say this held true.

Since getting an iPhone, Twitter has been my best friend. I follow the Boston Globe and the Cape Cod Times for the sake of keeping up with the news at home, but you can also catch me retweeting the New York Times, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC Nightly News, or the Associated Press on any given day. In terms of local news, I rely on following Onward State and the Daily Collegian.

But I am not just retweeting these news sources. I am now actually reading the news for pleasure thanks to Twitter. Though the 100+ characters initially sufficed for me, I have found that almost every major news story I have visited on a computer in the last six months has stemmed from my Twitter feed (which is in fact quite eclectic). While overseas in Italy, Twitter was the most immediate way I found out about the Boston Marathon bombings, which my closest friend was only a block away from.

BtownBombingTwitter

In terms of print, I really only read the Daily Collegian because it is free and the Cape Cod Times (free while under my parents’ roof). Not that there is anything wrong with this necessarily, but there is a certain sadness in the realization that I do not work to read the news. I let the news come to my literal finger tips, from the comfort of my bed or the boredom of my small desk in a lecture hall.

I am also currently reading Joe Posnanski’s Paterno to shed more light on the Sandusky scandal, so I do intend to improve my media diet in the future with more books of this nature.