Bryce Weblog

News Media Changing One Tweet at a time

Journalists are given more tools now than ever to get the news to an audience, Twitter is just one of these tools.

By Bryce Little November 21, 2008

Twitter, micro-blogging, Flash, Facebook, Myspace- do these words mean anything to you? If they do, then you are already on your way to becoming a well-rounded journalist. In the past several years, the news media has become increasingly reliant on the Internet to maintain an audience. People would rather read blogs and tweets than tune in at six every night to get their daily dose of news.

The ability to use these new technologies and write to an online readership has become the norm in today’s journalistic environment. The premium put on having technology-savvy journalists is at an all time high. As an unlucky journalist who will be entering a job market that is changing so rapidly, I believe that it is almost impossible to come in totally prepared.

The Twitter interface

The Twitter interface

Twitter is the most recent update to hit mainstream media in the past year. Twitter allows a reporter to update statuses instantly, using 140 characters or less. While it does not seem like a lot of information can be shared, it does afford journalists the ability to report concisely while covering a story.

“With its requirement for people to squeeze their thoughts into 140 characters or less, Twitter is a perfect tool for a fast-paced, mobile society,” said Janna Anderson, director of a research project called Imagining the Internet.

CNN and CBS have been especially involved in the use of Twitter. CNN has developed its own Twitter page and Rick Sanchez, a major reporter for CNN, is constantly sending out tweets (a single message sent on Twitter) to the CNN page.

Twitter was so new that even as a college student, I felt behind the times when I was first approached with the concept. I thought it was just a fad until I heard that some of the major news organizations around the country were using the program. Feeling behind the times as a 21 year-old is a sobering experience, to say the least.

The more that the public is requesting up-to-the-minute updates, the more popular Twitter will become. When I first heard about Twitter, I thought that ‘this is just another ploy by media organizations to make up for their falling numbers,’ but the more and more I heard ‘Twitter’ thrown around, the more solidified the messaging system became as a new force in the way news is delivered to an audience.

The ability of reporters to post news on Twitter from their mobile device has made it so news can be available anywhere anytime. The audience wants that feeling of being there and having the play-by-play of a news story.

“One of the things we are supposed to do as journalists is take people where they can’t go,” said John Dickerson, the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine in an interview. “It is much more authentic, because it really is from inside the room.”

Twitter provides for the audience the feeling of being right where the action is. You get the entire experience through a 140-word bust of text. The messages sent out by reporters are usually not the most well written pieces of reporting, but they do get the main points across and allow the reader to be right beside the reporter.

Twitter is also a great way to reach an audience that might be turned off by the traditional way of receiving news.

“It’s just a great way to connect in a real time environment,” said Kathy Lambeth. Lambeth is the New Ventures Director in charge of new product development at the News and Record in Greensboro. “It also reaches a group of users that are probably not necessarily as traditional.”

She explained that Twitter is a new way for a journalist to create a more meaningful relationship with their audience.

“As a journalist, think about how to make two-way connections with people, so they build a relationship with you,” she said. “I think it’s the same for a marketer as well as a journalist – making meaningful connections that stick. Help people solve problems and live their lives more easily, successfully, happily.”

The Twitter logo

The Twitter logo


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