Using Twitter to Create a Voice as a Journalist

Unlike the majority of my peers, I never considered myself a “Twitter addict” in high school.  I rarely tweeted on my own and I didn’t understand how people had the time to constantly check their feed.  Everytime I logged on, I saw so many pointless tweets and I felt like I was wasting my time reading vindictive sub-tweets or pointless back-and-forth drama.  I rarely updated my own account because I never felt like I had anything substantial to say.  I viewed this form of social media as pointless because so many people my age use it as their own personal diary that I didn’t have the time or desire to read.

 

Over the summer I had an internship with Talbot Digital, a digital media firm that works with advertising political campaigns through social media.  My role in this firm was to come up with tweets and facebook posts for the Twitter accounts @RecycleCartons and @RecycleTetraPak.  (I also created posts for the Facebook account Recycle Cartons.)  This opportunity taught me how to craft a tweet that can grab attention and be informative in 140 characters or less, which, as Mallory Jean Tenore said in 6 ways Twitter has made me a better writer, has taught me to write more succinctly.  Working for these accounts got me a little more interested in the Twitter world because I saw how organizations can create a voice for themselves to get important messages out and spread awareness on various topics, but I still seldom used my account on my own personal time.

 

It was this class that completely changed my opinion about Twitter.  I created a new account for this class which followed only news accounts, people and organizations I was actually interested in hearing from.  This class inspired me to add Twitter to my media diet and I now see how informative it can really be.  Although it shouldn’t be someone’s main source of information, it helps get news out quickly and efficiently.  I also now see how important it is for journalists to have a voice and an image for themselves, and I completely agree with Steve Buttry’s detailed list of 10 ways Twitter is valuable to journalists.


This class also taught me how useful hashtags can be.  Since I was used to reading pointless high school tweets, I always saw hashtags for silly, long-winded, uninformative phrases.  But, as Buttry said, hashtags can be really beneficial in researching a certain topic or finding valuable sources on a topic.

Tweeting My Life Away

Twitter has been around a lot longer than I thought it was. I didn’t get into twitter till 2012, six years after it was first founded, and I really didn’t even want too. I had a Facebook and I thought that was enough social media for me. However, all my friends started to get into Twitter halfway through my senior year so I thought I should join in, then I fell in love with it. Facebook became a thing of the past when I signed up for Twitter. I was able to follow my favorite celebrities and athletes (which I love) and it became a great media outlet to connect with people that have the same interests as me.

I agree with Mallary Tenore in saying that Twitter has helped me write more succinctly. Tenore says ,” The social networking site taught me that in writing, every word counts (literally). By limiting myself to 140 characters, I have to be strategic about how many words I use and how I use them. Training myself to write succinctly on Twitter has made me more aware of extra words in my stories.” I agree with Tenore that it has made me be less wordy as well. It has helped me take out those extra words that really have nothing to do with what I’m trying to say and are basically just filter. I don’t necessarily think Twitter has helped me become a better writer in all, but it has definitely helped me be more concise in what I’m am trying to say or write. 

Twitter has also helped me become a better news reader and become more knowledgeable of what is going on in the news. Steve Buttry says in his article ,” When public news breaks in your community, whether that news is a plane crash, terrorist attack, earthquake, flood, mass murder or snowstorm, people who have seen and experienced the news event tweet about it.” This not only happens on Twitter, but all of social media. Twitter not only helps me find out news going on across the world, it has also connected me to what is going on in my hometown while I’m at school. The news you could find out can be amazing and great, but you could also find out about tragedy. The hash tag has also been a great source of finding out news. When you click on a hash tag, it gives you a bunch of other people or news that contain that same hash tag. Twitter also helps news sources get straight to the point with the news they tweet out because of the 140 character limit (another plus!). 

Twitter will continue to become a bigger part of journalism and the future of journalism. Personally, twitter helps me let out my thoughts about anything and everything and it has become a great source for connecting with people and finding out news. Tweeting at celebrities or athletes trying to get a retweet or a follow is something that is fun, and who knows, maybe they will respond ( I’m still waiting to get one). I think the future of journalism is bright with social media being added to the mix and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me. 

Give me a follow on Twitter! @bleghammer50 for my personal account or @chris_bleggi50 for my school account

twitter-bird-white-on-blue

From Chirping to Tweeting

I noticed something as I began writing this post.  Pre-Twitter days, the world always said that birds chirp.  Not tweet.   Just a little food for thought.

Just like Mallary Tenore said in her article, I thought Twitter was something that I’d never get into or ever use.  That was true for the first couple years of existence.  The reason I ever got a Twitter account in the first place was because my mom had one and she kept sharing with me funny things that celebrities were saying.  To me, it was a really cool idea to be able to be connected to your favorite celebrities in a medium that they could share their thoughts at a distance and you could be close to them without hiding in a tree outside of their window.

Twitter's World

 

Twitter has evolved into a journalistic revolution.  It brought a whole new meaning to breaking news.  It’s completely different now.  Steve Buttry outlines Twitter’s effect on breaking news in his article.  In the article he says, “When public news breaks in your community, whether that news is a plane crash, terrorist attack, earthquake, flood, mass murder or snowstorm, people who have seen and experienced the news event tweet about it.”  That is completely true.  When things like that happen, your Twitter feed is full of people’s opinions and coverage of the event and this can give you a feel of how people are reacting.  Twitter makes everything quick.  News flies into the world at the length of 140 characters at an insane rate of speed and shared at that same speed all over the world.

My experience with Twitter has been full of reporters live-tweeting an event.  I’ve seen people argue with each other with 140 character or less insults.  I’ve seen floods of breaking news come from every source in the world all at the same time clogging up my feed.  With Twitter, a current aspiring journalist has seen the craft of journalism transform into this high-paced attack of news.

Injured Syrians Treated in Israel? A Journey to Un-fool Myself

Coming from a country where Twitter has been blocked since its rollout, I must admit that I have missed an ocean of opportunities to hook up with the trending global networks.

My romance with journalism starts with a curious mind. Dubbed as a “walking encyclopedia” in elementary school, I have always been inquisitive to know more about the surroundings. However, the moment of truth has just came that I realized that my solicitous character has largely been squandered. Western social media was like a karate chop on me that revolutionized my old-school thinking about learning. Because this epiphany came so late in my life, I was playing like a fool last week when a news tip came on my Twitter page.

It all started with this feed.

As a Twitter starter, I have not developed an infatuation in reading the feed, but this one surely got me.

To understand this tweet, one does not have to possess professional knowledge on the Middle Eastern shadow diplomacy. With civil war in Syria raging its sledgehammer the third year now, its citizen has eaten the gall of bitterness when international humanitarian aids appeared to be operating in vacuum. To quickly recap the history, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was a royal descendant of the historical Ba’ath party which has dominated the country for half a century. At least three massive wars have broken out between Syria and Israel since 1948, with the latest being the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Ever since the foundation of Israel as a state, Syria has been consistently taken a hawkish stance on its very existence. Because of the dire relationship between these two states, Israeli has launched numerous offensives on Syria during the past two years, notably Israeli jets attack on Syrian arms convoy, Israeli airstrike on Syrian chemical weapon research site and Israeli preemptive assault on Syrian missile stockpiles. In the aftermath of Aug. 21 chemical attack on Syrian civilians, Israeli supported a limited strike in Damascus to curb Assad’s CWMDs(Conventional Weapons of Mass Destruction.)

So, what does this tweet say about the recent update about Israeli-Syrian relationship? I was almost baffled by what this information entails. Israeli have been helping Syrian civilians in the civil war! My bewilderment may sounds hypocritical to some, but nobody should forget that the relationship between these two states went so bad that there still sits the Golan Heights DMZ as a military buffer straddling across their borders.

All I did that day was a simple reply to the tweeter.

It was too hollow a question that the poster did not care to reply.

Having read the tip sheet by Steve Buttry, the third tip called crowdsourcing struck my temple. Should I really count on what people are posting on Twitter, even if the poster belongs to a well-regarded org with many followers?

Today, I decided to untangle this tweet. I hopped on the Twitter search box and typed the keywords “syrians;israel;hospital”. The result astonished me. I have almost misread Israel in its positive effort in salvaging lives of its neighbor!

I found tweets like these, overflowing with loving kindness:

https://twitter.com/Love_4_Israel/status/399305991247777792

Wait a minute! Does that mean these stories are true that Syrians were indeed getting help in Israel? I’ve spotted a commonality among all these tweets–they were all posted by pro-Israeli groups. Couldn’t all these be an Israeli left-wing propaganda that screams harmonious coexistence of these two states? Why there is no tweet from Syrians? Twitter is officially banned in Syria, but uncanny people could always bypass the Internet blockade with proxy software. This train of thinking gives rise to another advice I learned from Daniel Victor–“In breaking news, I default to the assumption that everything I see is full of crap.” Doesn’t this sound familiar in this situation–Injured Syrians treated in Israel when two states are still in an official state of ceasefire at the Golan Heights.

All these being said, I know that this journey leads me to investigate more if time permits, following the footprint of the rumor-debunker Andy Carvin.

Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your comments and feedback below.