I would consider myself to be a pretty avid Twitterer. This wasn’t always the case, though. In high-school I was never really into any social media, including Facebook, Twitter, etc. I did cave and get Facebook upon coming to university, but Twitter didn’t hold much interest for me. At that point there were jokes and gags running amok about how people would literally tweet exactly what they were doing, i.e. “going outside”; “sitting on the porch”; “kind of have to pee” etc., and I just didn’t see the point.
Until, that is, I came to Fanshawe and began my journalism adventure in earnest. Through many classes and experiences, the importance of Twitter slowly became clear to me. Whereas some people used Twitter to keep everyone updated on every aspect of their lives, we could use it for other reasons. Breaking news was one of them. This year when we got word that a house that had gone up in flames was in fact housing a grow-op, we were the first to tweet it, and that’s exciting to us.
When it comes to news, many people just read headlines or the first little bit. This makes Twitter ideal for the news world. With 140 characters or less, precision is the name of the game. I now use Twitter daily for my schooling—as a reporter, before, during and after events, and as a newscaster, to tee up what I’ll be talking about. Our station has its own Twitter account from which we tweet about stories, retweet reporters’ tweets from events, put out breaking news, and monitor other news sources.
One of the great things about Twitter is that you can follow anyone. I follow many news sources such as AM980, 1290CJBK, the London Free Press, the Globe, etc. Having their tweets visible in your timeline is great, as it lets you see what they’re saying is the most newsworthy information at any given time.
One thing important to note about Twitter is that sometimes it leads to lack of verification. One example I have came earlier in the year. Another news station had tweeted that a dog had been found wrapped in a wet blanket and frozen to death in a woman’s refrigerator, and the woman had been charged and arrested by London police. Being on the desk at the time, I saw this and immediately called the police media relations officer, Constable Rivest. When I asked him to comment on the tweet, he had no idea what I was talking about. I told him that other stations (at this time there were two reporting it; the second probably taking from the first) were saying this is what happened. He responded that he could not confirm that as he had received no word about it, and to hold off. Later it turned out that the woman hadn’t been arrested by police, but by the Humane Society. This just shows how you have to take a second to verify, and also be careful when reporting based on what someone else is saying.
As a journalist not only for the radio but a newspaper as well, I have two Twitter accounts. Thus, my life is made much easier by Tweetdeck.
The ability to have more than one account open at the same time is very useful. I have mine set up to see tweets from everyone I follow for each account, as well as mentions for each account, and I leave one column for a trending topic I may want to look at. This past little while I’ve been following the Rafferty trial.
I think microblogging is a very useful tool, especially in the news business. It’s exactly what people want—short, concise updates, sometimes with links to more info, that tell exactly what you want to know. Although I don’t see the need to tweet personally, I think it’s a great tool for an aspiring journalist such as me.