How journalists use Twitter

Twitter allows reporters to monitor their beats around the clock, says Alecia Swasy in a new post at Poynter. A final look at Twitter before bedtime has become a must for many journalists.

Rather than the old-fashioned fear of “don’t scoop yourself on Twitter,” she found a new attitude: “If you don’t have it on Twitter first, it’s not a scoop.”

Swasy “spent about two years researching and interviewing 50 journalists at four metropolitan papers”: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, and the Tampa Bay Times. 

“One of the most interesting things I found was Twitter’s emergence as the new phone directory. Consider the decline of landline telephones, and the subsequent death of the community white pages. A school reporter in Dallas used Twitter to find students and parents by searching key words on the latest buzz in the schoolyard. … [S]he used Twitter to track down the news about a Dallas teacher being fired because she once posed for Playboy. The reporter also used Twitter to confirm the teacher’s identity — and to find her.”

Breaking local news on Twitter means more social capital for reporters, Swasy found. It can also expand their readership outside the local area, as it did for the Tampa Bay Times’s Craig Pittman, whose Twitter presence led to a Slate blog and a book deal, she says.

It’s not that Twitter alone can make your career — each journalist Swasy interviewed “emphasized that the main thing that will attract readers is producing credible content,” she wrote.

For more about Swasy’s findings, be sure to read her post at Poynter.


Trolls and comments: This week’s journals


Troll graphic from Wikimedia Commons

Abby shared a good link: Why I Quit Twitter — and Left Behind 35,000 Followers. It demonstrates that not only female journalists are subject to brutal harassment online. She also embedded the video she referred to during class, in which a YouTuber SINGS the nasty comments people have written to her. It’s worth a watch! Overall I found Abby’s post the most interesting one this week.

Ray also shared a useful link, to a post about not feeding trolls. It discusses the trolls’ motivation for what they do, among other things.

In a post reflecting her experience with this week’s assignment, Nina shared possibly the best article I’ve seen yet comparing Snapchat and Instagram: Instagram Stories is stealing Snapchat’s users.


Updates for 2017

This course is being updated for the Spring 2017 semester. In the past, a different version of this course required students to work a shift in the INC newsroom — that is NOT part of the new course.

The new course is very much focused on journalism and how journalists and their organizations use social media to advance their stories and their own personal brands. Social media is a vital part of the journalism ecosystem, and everyone who desires to become a part of the journalism field needs to understand social media.

For this course, you will be required to use various social media apps on your phone. These include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

When the Course Schedule for 2017 is complete, a new post will be added here. In the meantime, you can read About This Course.

Do not steal images!

Just because you give credit and link to the source of a photo DOES NOT mean you have PERMISSION to use a photo.

Read this: Photographer Wins $1.2 Million Lawsuit Over Images Taken From Twitter

What is permission? “Permission” means that the OWNER of the image explicitly said, in writing, that YOU may use the image. If you cannot show proof that you have that written permission, you are likely to be on shaky legal ground.

As a journalist you can CLAIM “fair use” — but claiming it DOES NOT make it true. Fair use is a tricky, complicated standard when it comes to copyrighted images. Do not expect a fair use lawsuit to end in your favor!

Who is the owner of a photo? You might see a lot of photos on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr that were posted by someone who IS NOT THE OWNER. Therefore, that person cannot give you permission. That person does not have the legal right to give permission for use of the image.

Skills that employers want you to have

Media job recruiters were asked (fall 2014) what they’re looking for on your resume. What was No. 1?

“The aptitude to use social media to dig up killer stories.”

Hiring managers said they want journalists who can intelligently dig up news from social media and other online posts, smartly interpreting and verifying for their readers the significance of what users are posting across the web.

Read the rest here.