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While lounging at home after my first quarter of college (December 2008), I was first officially introduced to Twitter. My family was hanging out in the kitchen one night after dinner and my dad kept raving about Twitter. I had briefly heard the word mentioned a few times before but knew little of what it meant. “It’s the next big thing!” my dad claimed repeatedly. I asked him what it was and he explained that people could tweet where they were and what they were doing at any time to let their friends and followers know. I was genuinely confused; I told him that’s what Facebook status updates were for. How could a site like Facebook, but with fewer features be the next big thing? It sounded like a cheap copy to me.

My dad insisted that I make one, even though I told him there was no point since none of my friends had a Twitter account. Mostly just to spite him and show him how pointless the site was, I created a Twitter account. I wrote in my Twitter bio that my dad forced me to make an account because “it was the next big thing” and that I didn’t believe him. After that I pretty much just forgot about Twitter and my account stood inactive. Sure I heard more and more about Twitter as time went on, but I never had the urge to commit myself to the site.

Twitter Profile

Over a year later in my spring quarter of college, I found out I was required to sign up on Twitter and actively tweet for my digital journalism course. I had to laugh when I remembered the circumstances I made my account under, especially since I realized once again my dad was right (after all, he was the one who kept urging me to join Facebook). In April of 2010 I updated my profile and was ready to give Twitter a chance, this time for real.

First of all, I learned that Twitter was more than just a bunch of status updates. I quickly discovered how to link to stories, websites and photos, and to shorten the links to allow more character space on my tweets by using sites like bit.ly. I made different lists, such as fashion and class-related, to make browsing through my Twitter easier. There is a lot of language and styling specific to Twitter and I began to pick up on how to use the lingo. For instance, the at symbol and number symbol have different functions on Twitter than other places online and I discovered how to correctly use them. The “@” is used to directly link another Twitter account to a tweet and “#” (which I found out is called a hash tag) is used to tweet about a topic to others who are interested in or following the topic. #FF (Friday Follow) and RT (Re-Tweet) now actually mean something to me and I frequently utilize them in my tweets.

I believe Twitter is a wonderful tool for journalists and it will only become a more prominent and useful outlet in the future. Twitter has the ability to publicize a lot of information immediately, which is perfect for breaking news. The ability to link to other web content allows for more in depth journalism to continue on certain topics. Twitter can also highlight the most important or interesting aspects of stories to get more people interested in a topic. Freelance or independent journalists can really use Twitter to their advantage to get a large following and increase their popularity in the media world. Most major news organizations (for example: CNN, The New York Times, etc) have already jumped on the bandwagon and made a Twitter account. The way I see it, their addition of Twitter only has added benefits, such as increasing the organization’s following, both on Twitter and in the “real world”.

For citizens, Twitter can be used to get important, and not-so-important information from many sources in one place. I enjoy using Twitter to get information on more trivial things like finding out what my favorite celebrities and bands are up to, but then I also get a healthy dose of what’s going on in the word and stay updated on current events from prominent new sources. Since I am not an avid reader of news, Twitter makes it easier for me to keep an eye on world events. Whatever reason citizens are using Twitter will only continue to grow as more and more people begin to tweet.

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My last 5 journalism related twitter accounts to follow for class purposes:

@ezraklein– Ezra Klein: “Blogger for the Washington Post, columnist for Newsweek. Eater of food. Hater of filibuster. Lover of charts.”

@bobsacha– Bob Sacha: “multimedia producer, photographer, film maker, digital immigrant,”

@chadastevens– Chad A Stevens: “filmmaker and teacher living in the documentary world” at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

@marcusod– Marcus O’Donnell: “journalism academic @ Uni Wollongong interests: convergence, lit jour, myth&media, storytelling, art & image” (from Australia!)

@TonyaMosley– Tonya Mosley: “Television Reporter, KING 5 News”

This week I chose to follow twitter accounts (relating to journalism and twitter) that had previously been #FF of my fellow COM 466 class mates!

@abcdude– John Berman “Correspondent, ABC News. Red Sox fan. Cosmic Power Broker. Nerf expert.”

@kingsthings– Larry King “CNN’s Larry King Live Celebrating 25 years!”

@TheMachineRaps– James Shahan “California MC/hip-hop artist. URB Magazine writer. Love meeting new people- talk to me!”

@Caroline_Hagood – Caroline Hagood “Writer of poetry & articles on film, books & culture; lover of words & pictures; fan of the weird; blogger at Huffington Post, Bookslut & FilmCatcher.”

@ckanal – Craig Kanalley “Traffic & Trends Editor for The Huffington Post. Into tech/journalism, social media, hockey & genealogy.”

Who I’m following (related to technology, media and journalism) this week:

@TravelingAnna–  Annemarie Dooling “Brooklyn native travel blogger; Friend of bourbon; Former magazine editor turned digital producer; Eternal searcher.”

@skidder– Scott Kidder “director of editorial operations at gawker media, business guy at the hype machine, drinker of iced tea.”

@JustJon– Jon “Coder, Modder, Gamer, Blogger, Lego Builder, RonFez.Net Webmaster”

@palafo– Patrick LaForge “An editor at The New York Times. I post what I’m reading. Links and retweets of non-NYT content are not endorsements. Caveat lector.”

@hamsandwich– Dave Surgan “herosquad.tumblr.com Music. Social Strategy. Photography.”

@ESPN_Michelle– Michelle Beadle “Co-Host of Sportsnation with her good buddy, Colin Cowherd. Airs on ESPN2 daily. Loves eating, tv, basketball, Leroy Jenkins and waterfalls. You pick the order.”

@suzanneyada– Suzanne Yada “Journalism/biz student at San Jose State. @SpartanDaily online editor, @SVSJBizJournal web girl & @SFPublicPress social media strategist. Hire me in May!”

@SI_PeterKing– Peter King “News about pro football, coffee and some other meaningless drivel from Sports Illustrated’s senior NFL writer.”

@web20classroom– Steven W. Anderson “Technology Educator, Blogger, Co-Creator of #edchat, Character at the #140Conf, Winner of 1st Ever NOW Award, Trying to Change The World, One Tweet At A Time…”

@andersoncooper– Anderson Cooper “A behind the scenes look at “Anderson Cooper 360°” written by Anderson Cooper and the show’s correspondents and producers. Watch AC360° M-F at 10 p.m. ET.”

Twitter

The five new accounts I am following this week of individuals that in some way, shape or form relate to journalism and/or twitter are:

@andrearosen– Andrea Rosen “Rocketboomer, fairweather associate of URDB, unmotivated freelance writer.”

@nmcglynn– Nick Mcglynn”Photographer for RandomNightOut.com”

@biz– Biz Stone “Co-founder of Twitter, Inc.”

@jkottke– Jason Kottke “Blogger, designer, man about internet.”

@waltmossberg– Walt Mossberg “Tech Columnist”

I found the last three twitter accounts by going to the “Find People” link at the top of the twitter page, then going to the “Browse Suggestions” tab and selecting “Technology.” This is a good source for any fellow 466’ers who are looking for accounts to follow!

The journalism accounts I have decided to follow this week include:

@gbakermariners– “Geoff Baker covers the Seattle Mariners for the Seattle Times and runs a wildly popular blog.” I love the Seattle Mariners and am going to my first game of the season this Friday! I already follow their official twitter account, but following an actual person who tweets about the Mariners should hopefully provide more in depth tweets.

@LilyJang– “TV news anchor. Social media addict who loves to cook but lives to eat. Texas girl at heart. Seattle transplant. A friend to all. (Hook ’em Horns!)” Even though I am not a big fan of Texas (I do not appreciate her “Hook ’em Horns!” comment), I am interested in a possible career in broadcast journalism. Hence the reason I now follow her.

@jennydeluxe– “New York Times tech reporter, ♥, nerd, hustler.” Jenna Wortham writes for the New York Times!

@juliaxgulia– “Digital Learning intern at MoMA. Freelance social media consultant, organizer of the Arts, Culture & Technology meetup. Sometimes blogger at http://www.juliaxgulia.com” Julia Kaganskiy has a lot of sass in her tweets, I like her voice! I think it might be a New Yorker thing…maybe I should move?

@brianstelter– “I report on TV & digital media for The New York Times.” Okay, after the third twitter account from a member of The New York Times staff, it is settled. I have to move to New York.

Heads up to all my fellow COM466ers:
@DigiDave (one of the twitter accounts we were required to follow for class) has a list @Digidave/media-heroes and it is a great source to find journalism related twitter accounts. I found the first of my new followers for the week on his list, and I am sure I will use the list in the future!

The 5 new journalism related accounts I am following on twitter this week are:

@newmediajim– “new media soul trapped in an old media body” I found Jim Long’s twitter account while searching through Digi Dave’s Media Heroes list. The twitter name caught my attention as well as the bio.

@CathyHorynNYT– “Fashion critic of The New York Times, editor of the On the Runway blog. Reports from the shows in Paris, Milan and New York.” Can I please have her job?

@mrjoezee– Joe Zee is the “Creative Director of ELLE Magazine, Stylist, Fashion Loudmouth, Backup Dancer” Once again can I have his job? (back up dancer included!)

@carr2n-“David Carr writes Media Equation column, blogs @ Decoder & covers pop culture at NY Times. Tweets news, ephemera and links. Thinks Web nice is the new black.”

@BarbaraJWalters- I stumbled across her account while surfing around on twitter and thought she would be interesting to follow as she is a popular figure in American broadcast journalism.

For my #FF (Friday Follow) on Twitter, I am now following 5 accounts of individuals related to journalism.

@rickreilly– I used to read Rick Reilly’s column on the last page of Sports Illustrated when I was younger. I thought his articles were humorous and he had a strong, conversational voice. I have not read any of his work since he moved to ESPN Magazine how ever long ago but I decided it would be worth following him since his column really sparked my interest in journalism.

The rest of the new accounts I am following I found on the “Recommended Twitter Accounts to Follow” post.

@nytkeller– Bill Keller is the Executive Editor of the New York Times

@paulbradshaw– Paul Bradshaw blogs about online journalism

@rorymartin– Rory Martin in a local blogger and philanthropist who works in Social Media Marketing for the company Seattle Web Design

@joanwalsh– Joan Walsh is the editor of Salon.com

“When I first saw Twitter I thought it was the stupidest thing ever.” -Marshall Kirkpatrick

My first thoughts exactly. I remember when over winter break after of my freshman year in college (December of 2008), my dad told me about this new site called Twitter. He said it was “the next big thing” and would be the next Facebook. I did not believe him. He kept urging me to make an account and eventually I made one just to prove to him how pointless it really was.

Now twitter is a requirement for my digital journalism class. Why is my dad always right? Although in my defense, at the time twitter did not serve a purpose to me. None of my friends had it, so I found it was useless for social networking and communicating with my peers (which is all I expected of it, like Facebook). While a lot of my friends still do not tweet, I have found that it is useful in the arena of journalism as well as consumerism.

The article “How We Use Twitter for Journalism” outlines four main points of the benefits of twitter in journalism.

As pulled from the article, twitter is used for:

  • the discovery of breaking stories,
  • performing interviews,
  • quality assurance
  • and promotion of our work.

To return to the opening quote, “When I first saw Twitter I thought it was the stupidest thing ever.” Kirkpatrick follows with, “Now, despite the length of this post, I find 140 characters plenty of space to communicate about almost anything.”

I must say I agree.

Follow me on twitter!

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