Exploring Twitter

Much of the initial buzz surrounding Twitter has faded away since it was launched in 2006.

But as an aspiring journalist who loves everything about social media, Twitter is a very exciting part of my career.

What’s most exciting about it is the fact that journalists are still figuring out how to use it best. It’s still a new frontier that we are learning about, exploring, and mastering. I love the fact that not everything is completely figured out, and that every Twitter user has the chance to be an explorer.

Online, the use of Twitter in both the journalism world and beyond has been debated. Is it necessary to be a journalist on Twitter? Is it effective? Does it provide for reliable accounts? Many have gave input on their views, including journalism blogger Steve Buttry, who criticized editors who don’t embrace Twitter, and stated: “Using Twitter doesn’t ensure that you’re embracing change and racing into the digital future. But refusing to use Twitter actively is a certain sign that you think change is someone else’s job.”

Twitter was even an aspect of a prominent issue on the University of Illinois campus, when Steven Salaita had his job offer to the American Indian studies program rescinded because of his political tweets. This event has sparked conversation about free speech and the use of social media.

The age of social media exploration that we’re in is not all that different from the times when print newspapers or broadcast television networks were first getting started. Nobody knew how to manage these new tools. Nevertheless, the pioneers of these types of media fearlessly toyed with ideas, made mistakes, found a way to make things work and be effective, and made extraordinary breakthroughs.  Their work through their explorations in media have allowed future generations to know what is expected of them in a journalism career.

Similarly, as journalists pave their way through the ethics and standards of Twitter, future generations will be able to look back and learn the ropes to know what is expected of them.

That’s fascinating to me. We’re in an age when we’re making history. News organizations are figuring out how to manage their websites. Having a social media presence is more important than ever, especially to reach younger audiences. To be in this time of learning makes me thrilled that I am a journalist.

I started using Twitter in 2009 and instantly loved the fact that I could so easily be connected with the world. Following every news service and prominent person that I could, I soon found out that too much information on Twitter is not a good idea. It’s great to follow a variety of news outlets and people, but if your news feed is overflowing with information, it can be too overwhelming. It’s best to follow what you’re really interested in — tweets that you’ll read, link to, favorite, and retweet.

Personally, I can’t get enough of Twitter. We have a tool that allows us to get people’s first-person experiences from anywhere in the world — instantly. Not only does it enable us to be completely informed, but it allows journalists to get their work out there and be connected with what other journalists are doing. To me, that’s too good of an opportunity to pass up.


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