Online Journalism: Fridays 2009


the class blog for Columbia College Chicago’s Online Journalism class: Friday edition

Twitter reports go here

Please put your twitter reports in the comments. Thanks!

Filed under: class stuff

11 Responses

  1. AndyHannon says:

    I was on Twitter long before this class started. Twitter is the reason I am in this class to begin with. It is also one of the reasons I elected to stay in Chicago. When I was thinking about leaving, one factor that was heavy on my mind was losing all of the great friends that i have made through this simple tool. In the past few months, Twitter has become a buzzword to be thrown around in order to sound hip. But it is much more than that. It allows people to be connected without overpowered. Being let in to someone else’s life as much as they choose to let you through 140 characters or less. Tools such as and Twitpic let users share music and photos with others. It is slowly becoming the center of an online multimedia universe.

    Twitter is so instantaneous that it lends itself easily to journalism. When the plane crashed into the Hudson River, the first photos of it were instantly spread through tweets. It is a hard line into our lives, allowing us to report on what we are doing. Agreed, not all of it is award winning content, but it is real, and most of it is interesting. News outlets (if they are smart) can interact with their customers, and find out what they are interested in, almost instantly. Again, they themselves can also send short bursts of the news, drawing people to their respective sites.

    While the “traditional” news sources that we know are slow to acknowledge this important tool, “new media” is alive and using it to help themselves every day. Most podcasts I listen to, or vidcasts that I watch, or just niche websites in general, send out hundreds of tweets, both about their content and interactions with us, the viewer. They know what we want, and work to deliver it.

    And moving forward, those hits are going to finance these outlets. The currency of the internet moving on is going to be clicks and unique visitors, through advertising. We have already been presented in this class, with a few instances of small websites growing quickly just because they were able to get advertisers to throw money their way.

    Through my almost two years on twitter, I’ve seen it go from just a select niche group of geeks trying something new, to celebrities and scholars interacting with the rest of the world. It’s allowed me to do things around the city that I never thought I’d be able to do. I only fear that it will be used up and discarded like so many social networks before it. But I’m confident that people who know how to use something like this well, will only further it’s benefit and keep it alive.

  2. To be honest, I was skeptical of the whole Twitter scene, but after using it for a while, I’ve found it to be rather useful and a lot less cumbersome than Myspace or Facebook. With those types of social media, you get sucked into looking at more useless things than you really need to, but with Twitter I am able to get info in small doses, some still useless but easier to skim over. Twitter also allows me to connect with articles that other people post since I do not surf the internet for news much. Twitter gives me a quick link to what else is going on in the world as well as converse with people on topics instantly. I find I am able to chat with people via Twitter more freely and not have a sense of expectation from others.
    Since I made my account I’ve had 175 posts and 30 followers. I am following 51 people, most of which are friends and classmates, but a few I found based on interests I have, or they started following me and in turn I followed them. I usually tweet at least once a day, if not more. I did tweet a couple of articles I read that were emailed to me and a video, but usually my tweets are about things I see every day that I find amusing or strange. But I also want to contribute something more interesting for those who are following me and offer some insight or interesting information. I’ve learned that Twitter does pose a two way street for people. Some people I follow offer a lot of news service or advice or suggest interesting things to check out, which allows me to stay well rounded and learn new things. I would like to do the same for my followers, but it’s a matter of making tweeting a habit and finding interesting tidbits. But it’s also fun to let people know what’s going on in my life––it definitely helps me relate to others I don’t normally talk to so when I do see them, I feel more comfortable starting a conversation with them.
    I think Twitter offers journalists another way to find stories and news faster than before. Twitter has a more breaking news feel since people can instantly write things down. A reporter can cover an event and can tweet the play by play action. From things like that bigger stories can stem, maybe not hard news, but it does allow for more dialogue among people and reporters can watch how people react to certain things and find interesting trends. They can also find deeper stories for features. I think it’s another tool journalists can use to their advantage in terms of reporting and encouraging people to read articles. It makes things more accessible for the general public as well as the media and connects them more intimately. I think the general public can appreciate being able to speak and have their opinions heard by media outlets without having to send in a letter to the editor that may or may not make it into the printed issue or on the newscast. Twitter offers a more focused way of staying connected with people for valid reasons whether it’s because you are acquaintances or because you share the same interests; I feel that people have greater purpose to be connected to each other on Twitter because everyone has something to offer other than useless virtual gifts or pokes.

  3. Mandy Treccia says:

    I first started using Twitter last semester for my Covering Elections 2008 class. Suzanne McBride wanted us to be able to communicate with each other during the Vice Presidential debate we attended in St. Louis. We basically used Twitter as a way to mock Sarah Palin and crack jokes back and forth during the debate. After that, I didn’t really use my Twitter account very much until more and more of my friends and classmates started “following” me on Twitter. I would follow them in return and I spent more time reading other people’s tweets than actually writing my own.
    I started following several news organizations including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Today Show, CNN, Gapers Block and several reporters. I would check Twitter several times a day to see what was going on in the news. Twitter is really great for breaking news because the information is instant and updated often. It was a lot faster to log into my Twitter account and scroll through the feeds than it was to go to all the different news websites or try and find the time to watch the news on television.
    When I started this assignment, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle tweeting at least five times a day. I never really feel like what I’m doing is so interesting that I need to rush out and tell everyone on Twitter. I have a much easier time with the @ replies. I like having conversations on Twitter. It’s like instant messaging, only better because more people have access to it. It’s fun to get involved in a conversation about Starbucks at midnight with four friends.
    Twitter is also really great for getting questions answered or problems solved quickly. There has been several times over the past few weeks that I’ve had a question and received several different answers within minutes on Twitter.
    On the other hand, Twitter can be overwhelming. I currently follow 66 people and about 30 of them have updates that go directly to my cell phone. Sometimes I wake up in the morning with 35 text messages and I don’t really have time to go back and read all of them. I’m not sure how people who follow hundreds of people keep up with them.
    I think Twitter will continue to be a huge part of journalism in the future. Several people I follow posted an article yesterday about how Twitter is growing faster than Facebook did. Each day, I see more and more journalists and news organizations joining Twitter. I think people like the fact that it is so easy to post news and repost news by “retweeting” someone else’s posts. It’s also easy for people to get all their news in one place and I think news organizations are realizing this.
    Unfortunately, the only problem with so many people being on Twitter is it slows down the website. I hate when I see the fail whale or when my posts start disappearing or it takes two hours for tweets to come to my cell phone as text messages. I think the owners of the site need to make the site better equipped to handle all of the new users.

  4. Rachel Stapinski says:

    Twitter is a great tool for keeping in close touch with internet personalities, friends and groups of people in a different way than normal networking websites. Those sites, Facebook and Myspace, are the “stop and chat” type of places to go to catch up on what people are doing. Twitter, on the other hand, gives people the ability to communicate in real time without a long conversation. For instance, only 140 characters are available. If someone could write as much as they wanted, it would look like a message board or forum. Chat rooms have their purpose, but they are constantly scrolling and refreshing. Twitter is a clean space that archives the most imaginative blurbs from selected sources.

    Tweets can be used for anything. People receive information in real time from who they follow and can comment on the information immediately. Questions are answered and problems solved. I have seen tweets from people looking for a ride or a place to stay. I have read articles relevant to class, my commute and campus that I would have never bothered to read before. Why? A friend or intelligent person I trust thought it was worth posting.

    Twitter has taught me the routines of my friends and acquaintances. Not to sound like a creep, but it is interesting to witness the archived days of people I know. I really enjoy “Scenes from a Commute” and Andy tweeting everything he does. These tweets are really entertaining and give me ideas about my future tweets. I can post links to pictures of the dinners I make my family with a link to the recipe. I could never keep a journal, but think I could get into tweeting the major events in my life, and minor ones, without too much trouble.

    The best way to keep new content on my blog is through tweets. Sometimes it is not worth writing an entire article, making an image, and aggregating links for everything that peaks my interest online. With a Twitter widget I can tweet a comment on a story with a link that is automatically placed on my blog. It makes my page look busy and interesting without having to constantly update my posts.

    I did have a hard time sticking to the Twitter quota for this project. When I got into the full swing of tweeting, re-tweeting and replying to tweets the system completely crashed. I noticed that my tweets took hours to days before posting. This experience taught me that the only true utility of Twitter is its capability for instant comments. When Twitter is down, I find it easy to lose interest.

    In conclusion, Twitter is a tool to stay informed on what people are doing online. Tweets are questions, answers and information that can receive instant feedback from a wider community. People can be really creative with their links to stories, videos and pictures. The format makes it easy to archive and share the events in a person’s day and post refreshing content on a blog. But, when it fails to work, it is too easy to walk away.

  5. Brian Livingston says:

    Twitter. That one little word has made a lot of headway in the short time it has been around. Originally I had no intentions of signing up for an account. I figured here we go again another social networking site. Considering I already have a MySpace and Facebook account I saw no need to sign up for this twitter thing.

    But it was inevitable that sooner or later I would be involved with this. While I was opposed to opening account because I saw it as just another thing to keep track of, but once I signed up I actually enjoyed it.

    I customized my page and added celebrities, bands and websites that have their own twitter accounts. I enjoy knowing what Jim Gaffigan, Chad Vader and Domo are doing through out the course of their days. It’s almost like an online form of stalking that’s legal. In all seriousness, though it is a great way to communicate with people on the go. I enjoy it to the point where I don’t have tweets being sent to my phone.

    I think it would be annoying to have my phone going off every five seconds from people twittering. That’s the only draw back to me. I think I would get annoyed with it. I did have a few issues when I first signed up. A lot spam accounts were adding me and I didn’t like it. Twitter and I got in a fight, but we’ve made up since.

    I feel that twitter will better me in my career later on. I have the knowledge of how twitter works and I will take that into my field and it will ultimately give me the edge over those who don’t know how to twitter.

    When I first heard of this concept known as twittering I thought of Facebook’s status feature. This is quite funny, considering Facebook redesigned their site to draw in the twitter crowd by making their site function like twitter. Twitter must be doing something right if they can get Facebook to change their site.

    Twitter is unique and has changed the way we communicate with one another. It basically is Facebook with out the bullshit. It’s short and sweet and to the point. I respect that because being a journalist you’re time is precious.

    Twitter has kept me in contact with class mates, which helps if you’re going to be late for class or need to stay in touch for projects and things of that nature.

    As much as I resisted signing up for twitter I’ve actually enjoyed my experience during these 21 days. Twitter is where technology is heading and it’s good to stay on top of these things especially in journalism. It is an ever changing field and it’s always good to stay up on the latest trends and adapt.

    I’ve used twitter to promote my work on various websites and hopefully those who matter have taken notice. Twitter is a unique experience and I can only wonder where it goes from here.

  6. Jonathan Nelson says:

    Twitter is that monster online that no one seems to be able to explain. Blogs and online social communities were lacking definition when they first hit mainstream too. Everyone that used them knew what they were, everyone that didn’t got answers like “friendster is just friendster.” Twitter is right there now. Early blogs and the predecessors of MySpace and Facebook were also not very good at doing what they were meant to do. This is partially because no one knew what those things were meant to do. Twitter is lacking definition, and thus it has yet to really bloom.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Twitter is a great tool and is really neat. I have not gotten addicted to it like so many others. I am not sure why, maybe because I was on friendster the week it launched and had my own blog back when web log was still a common term. I was born into a home with a computer and I used to from the start.

    All this means is that I have seen technology outgrow itself time and time again. I have learned not to jump on the bandwagon right away anymore. I avoided buying an iPhone because I knew that was the start of the mobile computer, not a hyper advanced telephone. The company nVidia just released a prototype gaming desktop that fits in the palm of your hand. Twitter will have a few stages and one massive evolution that turns it into what it is meant to be.

    So right now I think Twitter is fun, it gives me one more place to go on my routine commute through cyberspace, but right now it is an infant and needs time and care to grow and mature. I also think its strength is in its mobility, which for me right now, is awful. I am waiting for the iPhone 4G I keep seeing rumored – or at least the next update that Apple has promised — or for G1 to get a proper Android variation.

    Twitter has created new channels of communication, but they are not always convenient. Facebook has adapted this and taken the first step in the evolution of Twitter. The idea of blogging, instant messaging, emailing and social networking all be crunch down into a single, simple and low resource application is insane. Twitter has done it, but there is cleaning and remodeling left to do, make an addition or two also.

  7. Sara Harvey says:

    I had just cut the MySpace and Facebook umbilical cord when I heard about Twitter. I had my reasons for ditching the online social network. Too much drama. Too many opportunities to seem unprofessional in front of the whole world. I’m still sure I wouldn’t have a Twitter now if it weren’t for LAST semester’s Online Journalism class.

    When Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech in Grant Park, I was tweeting from his home neighborhood of Hyde Park for the purpose of the college newspaper. Some people I worked with had taken this same class where they learned all about the wonders of Twitter. I obliged and really didn’t give it much thought. I think one of my first tweets was something about how the University of Chicago students at the bar we were at seemed far too stuck up to be a true representative of Hyde Park.

    The concept of tweeting didn’t seem all that important then, when I first signed up. In fact, I didn’t really use Twitter for anyone else’s benefit except my own, which has always seemed really selfish. I guess when I watched that video at the beginning of this class, where it explains Twitter as a way for friends to stay connected while they’re doing even the most boring parts of their day, it seemed kind of superficial, like Twitter was destined to be something better.

    That “something better” to me is the way my favorite followers (and followees?) use Twitter. It’s become a helpful tool that tells you where you can get paczki south of Chicago, or what trains are running slow from construction, or what public official just made an ass of him/herself — complete with pictures, courtesy of TwitPic. It allows your heart to break in realtime as you’re reading tweets from a newspaper that just announced its demise.

    When we started the 21 Days assignment, I tried to embrace Twitter with a sense of service as best I could. I suppose it was easier to focus on because I have no other social networking sites to worry about. I downloaded TweetDeck, which automatically refreshed for me and kept a running list of all the hashtags I’d used. It also let me filter tweets by exclusion (for example, typing in the name of a follower whose updates seemed too frequent and distracting would hide their updates from me until I decided to see them again).

    The more journalists I followed, the more I realized how much I didn’t know about Twitter. I tried — as others had — to fish for sources by asking around. I didn’t get a single lead, but that’s probably because my net isn’t big enough. That said, I found it a problem when I came back from Spring Break (having been cut off from the internet in the Arizona desert) and I realized how many updates I’d missed. I didn’t even try to catch up on everything, even though I don’t have all that many followers. It would have just been ridiculous. The word prolific comes to mind.

  8. Erik Golden says:

    When I first heard about Twitter, I didn’t understand it. Since I became a member, I finally understood it, and I find it completely redundant.
    As a social networking tool, Twitter is very restraining with their 140 character limit when sites such as Facebook or Myspace have no limit whatsoever. Their character limit seems entirely unnecessary. You can type more out in a text message than a “tweet”. I understand that the reasoning for their character limit is to make things fast and conversations to be quick and easy, but again, why go on to Twitter when there is other sites that give you the option for short or long messages. It doesn’t make sense.
    As a journalism tool, I can see how Twitter can be helpful, but an odd choice in my opinion. It’s interesting that it was Twitter that broke the story about the plane that crashed into the Hudson River when there are so many sites that had the same capability of breaking the news. Couldn’t that story just have easily been announced on Facebook?
    It was said in our class that a great thing about Twitter is you can give a play-by-play of an event you may be covering. When I look at journalists’ Twitter pages and they’re covering a story. Their “tweets” either consist of words that are shortened, made into acronyms, or in flat out choppy English. Most posts though simply have a link to the real news site. I bring this up because as a tool for journalism, there seem to be a lot better options. The majority of news stories on Twitter can just as easily be found on the original site. If you already follow that type of news, why follow them to have it be repeated?
    When I joined Twitter for this class, I found it incredibly hard to post as frequently as required. I literally had nothing to say. The same goes along with a large majority of the people I’m following. There is an overwhelming amount of pointless posts saying things like, “Ugh…tired.” or “So don’t want to go to class right now.” The whole site doesn’t seem to fully go anywhere. I’m not alone on this either. Because of the popularity of Twitter, I’ve come across numerous people that simply ask why it is so popular.
    One thing that is very innovative of Twitter is how it’s an everlasting online conversation between people. Unlike other networking sites, you can’t make your page private. That could be a good thing for journalism because it gets stories out there to people, but a bad thing for normal people who may want to censor what they say in front of certain people.
    In the end, I believe Twitter can be so much more than what it is. There are so many unnecessary limitations to the site. Twitter should allow you to type an unlimited amount, add more graphics (too much text), have a better control their traffic because it stalls a lot and maybe add a chat feature.
    Twitter is known to be instant, useful, and quick. Those adjectives shouldn’t be used to describe a site where you are pretty much talking to everyone. It should be very easy for Twitter to allow people to say as much as they want. Why don’t they?

  9. Kristina Wells says:

    Twitter is an odd instrument. At first, I found it boring and pointless, another assignment and yet another thing to remember to do each week. It was, literally, nothing more than a Facebook status update with a different name. I would update both my Facebook and Twitter status with the same thing. I found it redundant.
    As my time on Twitter progressed, I began to understand Twitter better. For example, I found and began following Metra’s Milwaukee West District Line, my train into and out of the city each day. I was able to get updates from my cell phone in a matter of minutes. I could even get notifications if there was something wrong with a particular train or if it was going to be arriving late, and if so, how late.
    Following the Chicago Blackhawks, I was able to follow the game from my phone. Updates told me exactly what was happening during crucial minutes, including major penalties and goals by either team. With both Metra and the Hawks, I was previously unable to get status updates like this with Facebook.
    I did find it fun checking out friends’ statuses. I was able to know who was doing what and to see comments others were making.
    After some time, I found the most useful purpose for Twitter: posting game scores from the Chicago Slaughter. The Chicago Slaughter is the indoor football team I intern with. We only draw approximately 4,000 fans per game because we are still relatively unknown. I am trying to draw fans out, or to keep that fan contact by updating Twitter during games with score updates and the like. I hope that by showing the fans how high scoring and intense the game is via Twitter, I can encourage others to actually come to a game.
    I don’t necessarily see journalism connecting with Twitter in the future. It is very difficult to get a point across with 140 characters. It is a great idea. I can follow top stories from the Chicago Tribune by following ColonelTribune, but I would rather pick up a paper and read the article in print.
    Twitter is good for breaking news. A major event could be happening somewhere in the world, and with the use of Twitter, word could be spread so fast. I believe recently, word of one of the plane crashes was spread via Twitter. Everyone knew a plane was down before a story could be written about it. I believe that is a good use for Twitter.
    As previously stated, Twitter first started as a major pain in the butt. As I got used to it, I began to find the positives in the site. As for a major journalism breakthrough via Twitter, I don’t necessarily see it happening unless Twitter forgoes some major changes.

  10. Kaylee says:

    Twitter and I started our relationship on a rocky note. We fought, I was taking more than I should, they were fail whaling… it was messy. But as our relationship is five months in now, we are moving along great together.
    There are two things about Twitter that I absolutely love. The first is that I think it’s insanely cool to be able to break news before TV outlets do. So many times Twitter members or news organizations that tweet will break a story before CNN can even get their hands on it. Also, the real-time element of Twitter makes citizen journalism and journalism in general much faster. With TwitPic it’s possible to be the eyes and ears of an emergency for your followers.
    I got to do this when I went home to Fargo, ND over spring break. They were (and are still) facing record-breaking floods that threaten the entire city. While I was home I shot photos from my phone and sent them to Twitter I also tweeted from my phone when I would experience something memorable or that I thought people should know about. The urgency of Twitter is probably the best part about the whole thing.
    The second thing I really love about Twitter is that it can bring you to some pretty cool websites and web content. I love quirky and funny web stuff and if you follow the right people you can get some pretty awesome stuff. It’s a great tool if you want to get into new media because so many people know a ton about the Web and what it has to offer or what cool tricks you can learn. Twitter is a great place to gain knowledge and skills to become better at navigating the Web.
    Before Twitter I wasn’t really into chatting online or getting into discussions on forums – except that one time I went on Gomez’s site and ripped them a new one because I felt I had to. But anyway, chatting online to me wasn’t really something I was in to and was sort of raised to believe that it was bad and that there are scarry people on the “Internet.” But Twitter has made the Web a much more friendly place. It puts a face to people who talk about real things and are not elitist like a lot of other social media sites. Most people I’ve met on Twitter are nice people who just want to talk about new media stuff and are not pretentious about who they are or what they do.
    I think it is so successful because it is so overly simple. So simple that my dad uses it and it has become a regular way for us to communicate. If Twitter starts getting overrun by people who aren’t talking about real things anymore it will fail and people will move on to something better.

  11. Nicole Way says:

    It seems that the second I signed up for Twitter, it was suddenly everywhere. Not a day has passed without some mention of Twitter, somwehere, possibly everywhere. There has been an endless conversation about wht exactly twitter is, and why people should use it. I think Twitter can be whatever you make of it.
    Right now I am following 42 people- mostly a mix of Journalists, CEOs, news organizations peppered with a few friends. I’ve tried to explain to Twitter neighsayers that Twitter is best used for sharing links, photos and breaking news. Great, they say, but how is it different from facebook? This is where I lose my confidence in Tweeting. Obviously Twitter must be doing something right if Facebook had remodled its newsfeed after Twitter. After the redesign, I’ve noticed myself using twitter less and facebook more. I all ready have an audiance there. They know me and can “like” what I have to say and comment directly.
    Today I find myself in a mixed-up world of social platforms. Facebook has become my tweeting platform, and Twitter is my newsfeed. I guess to some I may not be an authentic Tweeter. I rarely think of anything to post on Twitter, and have a hard time replying to people. Part of this stems from my fear of the open internet. After hearing about the “Cisco Fatty” conundrum and having a near miss at my own job (I twittered about updating my resume) I don’t want or need the ability to broadcast what I’m thinking at the moment, because more often than not I’ll get in trouble.

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