Whether it’s violent protests in Egypt, character assassination of the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler, surprising new talent discoveries, or natural disasters, the “NEWS” is reaching us faster — intersecting with us where we are.
At the forefront of this evolution/revolution is Twitter, the social media platform where simplicity is part of its brilliance. Twitter has changed the way we define news. Having to keep messages to under 140 characters, tweeters are breaking news and defining trends — getting out information to the world that in the past might never have been reported.
By the time many journalists can get in to cover a story, it has broken on Twitter, been discussed, and passed off as old news. Therefore, today’s print and broadcast reporters must provide analysis and perspective to add value to the conversation. They can use Twitter to do just that: Journalists have access to a real time people search engine that can tell them what millions of people are thinking about one single topic in any country around the world.
In mid-2010, Twitter had 100-200 million users (depending on the stat source). On a daily basis, they posted 26 million tweets and searched the site 600 million times. More than 300,000 new users were joining every day as well.
While a significant number of Old School journalists may still be treading water defending what they know and “want to be true,” a growing number of today’s and tomorrow’s journalists are building knowledge, networks, and influence as professional Tweeple. Here’s a link to ten of the most experienced Twitter users that every journalism student ought to follow.
Below you can read how six online journalists describe the impact of Twitter on their careers and their evolving definitions of news:
I am journalist and I do read newspapers, watch news etc.. but I notice that more and more I get my “Breaking News” from Facebook/ Twitter… Sometimes you just don’t have time to turn on the TV or read an online newspaper. I predict that consumers will subscribe to news via services like this that operate only on Twitter, Facebook etc.. and that perhaps this services will be linked to the major news-services of the world.
Posted by Mayra Rocha-Fernandez
Working at a twice-weekly community newspaper, Twitter has helped us keep a more “daily” feel to our product. We’re able send out short bursts providing some info (game scores, council decisions, etc.) while at the same time leading followers to either our print or e-editions. Of course, at the same time, we’re competing with others (fans, parents, bloggers) who tweet such information.
Posted by Michael Gresham
I am a veteran political reporter covering Canada’s Parliament and the use of Twitter by MPs and cabinet minister has exploded over the past couple of years. We have even had MPs had to rise in the House of Commons to apologize for tweeting the proceedings of an in camera committee meeting or for commenting on another MPs weight.
For me, twitter has become a valuable source of tips about breaking news on Parliament Hill, another way to communicate with sources and a way to call attention to stories we report.
Posted by Elizabeth Thompson
I think you’re right, but I don’t see that as a good thing. As a lifelong NJ (National Union of Journalists) member, I believe that this drive toward social media, etc., is dangerous. Sometimes you need more than 140 characters to explain the important issues, but “people” are too busy to consider the larger picture or the background. No one has the time to listen or read the full story and what happens is that people beleive they know about a particular matter, when they haven’t got an idea about what’s going one. Thank you for your post.
Posted by Greg Smith
I use twitter and fb to promote my articles or when there’s breaking news that I see in the sports world, mostly with the Chicago Cubs. I use it to receive other breaking news, but it can really get out of hand. I have started to cull names from who I follow. There are some people who use it and it seems like nonsense to me. It is a valuable tool for taking and receiving info related to your business… at least it is for me. As for limiting things to 140 characters, I agree that’s not always enough, but that’s where you can link to longer articles. In our busy lives, sometimes we don’t have enough time to read everything in deptth, so 140 characters to let us know what’s going on is more helpful than being in the dark about an issue.
Posted by Miriam Romain
If used correctly social media is an important and valuable tool needed to reach the masses and those not attracted to news. It is not a fad and if used in the right effective way is not dangerous either. I teach journalists how to use social media “correctly” and once they realise the right way, it’s amazing how hooked they are. However, there are many, especially management who seem wary of it.
Posted by Emma Lingard
Join the conversation: How has Twitter changed your work life? What do you predict for the future of news and journalism?
[Correction: an earlier version posted 600 million Twitter users, but the source seems to have vastly overstated the case]