The very first thing I wrote about Twitter
In March 2009, I was on a week-long training/induction course despite having been at my newspaper sub-editing job for a year. One of the tasks which I was assigned in journalism 101 (I don’t even know what to call it) was to write a column. I chose to write about Twitter.
Thankfully, I think I’m a better writer now.
If you don’t know your tweets from your toes, then get ready to discover a whole new world.
I make absolutely no bones about being a technology and media addict. I try to keep up with what’s going on with mobile phones, computers, video games, films, TV and in the online world, particularly using the Internet as a news source; it’s fascinating to see various stories develop as they break.
But, with newspaper circulations dropping everywhere, there is an argument to be made that all these distractions are vacuuming up readers’ valuable time, and leaving them with little or no interest in shelling out around £2 per week and spending half an hour per day finding out what’s happening locally in the paper.
Although tech fans may be derided by some as geeks, gadgets and gizmos are constantly altering the way we live our lives. From finding out what our friends are up to at any given time, to drastically altering the way we receive our news, there’s no denying the power and immediacy of telecommunications.
This is why Sky News is to be applauded for its foray into the world of Twitter.
Launched in 2006, Twitter is a popular ‘micro-blogging’ website, with more than five million users — a number which is growing exponentially by the day.
It allows anyone to update their friends (or ‘followers’) with their thoughts, jokes or simply what they are doing — all in a mere 140 characters or fewer, in messages known as ‘tweets’.
Its fans are numerous and widespread, coming from all walks of life. The popular, witty Stephen Fry, for instance, is perhaps its most famous user. Fry is a self-confessed addict, regularly interacting with several of his 278,000 followers (yep, told you he was popular).
Other prominent Twitterers include granddad-bothering Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand; housewives’ choice Phillip Schofield; oddball film director David Lynch; and even the most powerful man in the world — US President Barack Obama — all with tens of thousands of friends and fans eagerly awaiting their every word (although, the president’s account has not been updated since his inauguration. Funny, that).
I signed up to Twitter a couple of months back out of curiosity, and, I have to admit, I’m completely hooked.
I follow a few of these famous types to find out what interesting things they are up to at any given time.
But (mainly to show I’m not completely socially inept), I’ve forced several friends to start using it too, and it’s becoming increasingly valuable to me as a communications device, getting a message out to several pals at once to, for instance, find out who’s up for heading to the cinema that night or to the pub.
So, it is undoubtedly a popular service, but there’s more to it than mere banality and idle chit chat.
From a news standpoint, Twitter has received widespread attention over the past few months. Most notably, news of the Hudson River plane crash in January first broke over the service, while last year, an American journalism student let his followers know he had been arrested in Egypt for photographing an anti-government protest. They contacted his university, who hired a lawyer and got him released from prison the next day. Twitter can be a powerful tool, to say the least.
In light of the fast growing development as the site as a news source, last week, it was reported Sky News had appointed a full-time Twitter correspondent.
Online tech bible CNET revealed Ruth Barnett had been appointed to the role, the first time a news organisation anywhere has put stumped up the cash to employ someone whose job it is to scour Twitter for breaking stories. A nice cushy job, if you can get it.
For my money, Sky is spot on in making such a bold step.
There are millions of voices on Twitter, all vying to be heard. Critics may write it off as another distraction from modern life or merely another way for despondent, fame-hungry nut cases to try and have their voices be heard, but it’s becoming much more valuable than that.
Viewing Twitter as a constant, non-traditional stream of news (there are thousands of tweets from over five million users every minute), there is a potentially vast number of stories out there. The move shows Sky News is one service that wants to be ahead of the game and give its viewers and online readers a broader view of what’s going on in the world.
With more and more of us now having ‘smartphones’ — mobiles that do everything from taking pictures and acting as our music players to accessing the Internet and switching on your kettle when you’re a few minutes away from the front door (well, maybe not the last one yet, but it can’t be far off) — many of us are choosing to abandon the more established news channels for a more instant (and, indeed, cheaper) source.
Now, even if it weren’t for this newspaper paying my wages and allowing me to do all my Tweeting and web-browsing, I’d still say there is definitely a place for the print media. For all the websites and 24-hour news TV stations, there’s very little that can compete with pouring over the local daily, even just to find out about old school buddies getting married or what the latest news from Tannadice is.
However, newspapers, instead of trying to ignore the Net, must accept it, not just as competition or as a deadly distraction, but also as a valuable news source.
To print editors, all I have to say is this: There’s a lot of information out there. Let’s use it to everyone’s advantage.
Twitter seems like it could be fun. It’s pretty much a blog site that’s not much more than Facebook status updates. It could be interesting, as in fast news updates and the like, I reckon.
Dude in my French class thinks kids under 18 shouldn’t use the Internet because the “information is bad.”
Would’ve explained exactly why he’s completely wrong if my French were better…
I worked with the Academy to create the official 85 Years of Oscars poster.
The brief was one of the hardest I’ve ever had; find a way to reference every single Best Picture winner from the last 85 years.
Thanks to Gallery 1988 for organising this whole shebang.
So this is pretty spectacular.
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I don’t really need to say anything more, do I?
I don’t set out to be funny on Twitter. I’m just being myself.
I tell a few jokes amid doing work stuff, and it’s not up to me to decide whether they’re good or bad. Working from home most of the time and not having anyone around means I need another method of release for my thoughts.
You can talk about journalism as a public service or whatever and needing to be serious for real, but reporters are people too. I don’t tend to follow anyone who’s simply on Twitter to pimp their own stuff or if they only have real talk in mind. That’s boring.
I want to see some personality to brighten up my day. I hope I can do the same for others.
Prohibition had a majority in all provinces except Quebec, where a strong 81.2% voted against it.