Twitter: a trend worth following

The web address of this blog is “fingermeetpulse” because, as journalists, it is our job to always keep our finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world. Our goal is to report news as it happens, while keeping communication lines open and engaging with the public. Twitter meets these goals and has changed journalism as we know it.

This microblogging phenomenon has made the world smaller. The 140 character limit format requires clean and to the point reporting. The site is easily accessible and allows the public to report along with the journalist. When a celebrity dies, a bill is passed or denied, a tornado has touched ground, or when a country revolts against its leader, Twitter is first to break the story.

A perfect example of why Twitter is crucial to journalists and the public alike lies in the recent events in Egypt. News of the events unfolding in the streets was nearly impossible to come by at first due to technology being compromised. Al Jazeera actually encouraged the community to use blogs, social media, eyewitness accounts and videos to show the world what their country was experiencing.

Through Tweeting and Twitpic, citizens were able to have their voices heard. With the use of the hashtag, #Egypt, anyone with a connection to Twitter could quickly access information.

The preamble of the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics speaks of public enlightenment, the foundation of democracy, seeking truth, integrity and credibility. Twitter most certainly enlightens by allowing a constant flow of information, pictures, audio and video.

The site showcases the first amendment right of free speech in full form and allows the public to take full of advantage of that right and privilege.

If any source attempts to spread falsehoods, Twitter allows for the truth to come out in record timing. For example, politicians like Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) may attempt to set the record straight when need be.

Lastly, Twitter verifies accounts, which allows the public to know whether certain Twitter accounts are indeed credible.

The possibilities for Twitter and its uses are endless. I’m certain the site will grow as we grow. Jason De Rusha (@derushaj),  a reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis provides these tips for journalists:

• Do: Get engaged.

• Do: Read replies.

• Do: Respond.

• Don’t: Turn Twitter into a non-stop back-and-forth exchange. Take bigger discussions to e-mail or Direct Messages.

• Do: Start as a listener. It’s OK to start following people and just treat Twitter as something like the AP Wires. Don’t be discouraged because you only care about 1% of people’s tweets. You don’t cancel the AP Wires because you don’t care about the Lottery numbers from Kentucky.

• Do: Post a profile picture.

• Do: Talk to your boss about his/her philosophy about Twitter.

• Do: Ask permission before tweeting anything about internal information (new hires, fires, layoffs, etc.)

• Do: Treat your Tweets like a microblog. Consider whether your readers would care about something before you belch it out to the wider world.

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