Twitter came along, and was adapted by so many people in such a big way, that me being a young, rebelious teenager blankly refused to join. I remember telling friends how I would NEVER EVER join Twitter, and that the day I did, my life would be over. Enter first semester of third year journalism, and I was forced into this craze I thought was only for 13 year olds and celebrities. It should be noted at this point, that I also said I would never join Facebook, but I gave into that as well. However, once I joined, I realised that Twitter was actually quite useful. Nothing breaks news as fast as Twitter, and nothing makes you feel better than stalking your favourite sports stars, and getting a once-impossible insight into the workings of their minds. Before I knew it, I had over 100 followers and over 500 tweets, and I will openly admit that I love Twitter now.

Currently, it is estimated that Twitter has 200 million users (Shiels, 2011) while its biggest rival (if you could call the two rivals) Facebook, has 600 million users. Twitter recently celebrated it’s fifth birthday, and it was pointed out that it took three years to produce 1 billion Tweets, but each week, 1 billion Tweets are rolled out across the world. (Hoberman, 2011) These kinds of numbers are huge, and show the insane amount of popularity that Twitter has, but also how obsessed our generation has become with “our voice” being heard. I still wonder how twenty years ago, the every day person managed to survive without social media. I mean how could they work out who was going to be the star of Two and a Half Men??!!

However, some critics of Twitter think that it will go the way of MySpace and fade into obscurity. Social phycologist Aleks Krotoski believes that while Twitter is experiencing a wave of success, this could easily fade much like other social sites such as Bebo and MySpace. She is aware that in this technological age, trends come and go, and states that only big companies such as Google have proven they can survive over a long period of time. (Hoberman, 2011)

Outspoken Twitter user and our lecturer/tutor, Julie Posetti, has some strong views on the use of Twitter for journalists. One important fact she points out during her Rules of Engagement blog, is to be extremely careful of what you say and publish on Twitter and to “think before you tweet — you can’t delete an indiscreet tweet.” (Posetti 2009)

The fact that this rule came at the top of Julies “tips for journos” shows the important she places on thinking before Tweeting. In the blog, Julie quotes Dave Early, from Brisbane’s Courier Mail, who says “I do try to make sure my tweets are never inflammatory, there’s no point setting out to make enemies.” (Posetti 2009)

I think this advice is invaluable, because at the time it may seem like no one is listening or caring about your 140 characters, but along the track a defamatory tweet could come back and bite you.

One thing that I am particulaly interested in, is how sport is interwoven with Twitter. The “commentary” given out by people such as Sterlo for Triple M is adding a new dimension to sporting matches, as people can simply follow the match updates on Twitter if they dont have access to Foxtel.

Twitter has also proven to be one of the best and easiest ways to access live sporting matches from the comfort of your computer or smart phone. And the best thing about it, is that Twitter gives you more than just a basic score update. Depending on who you follow, you can get play-by-play updates on Twitter, allowing the consumer to feel like they are witnessing the game first hand. Instead of waiting until the final siren and reading a match report online, the user can simply follow the game on Twitter, and have a feel for who is performing well and what the match is actually like.  As Posetti stated, “Twitter is, I think, the closest a text-based form of journalism comes to a “live cross”- a long standing feature of broadcast journalism where a reporter files content, unfiltered, live to air.” (2010)

This is also incredibly useful for over-seas events such as lower key tennis matches which particularly interest me, and other sporting events which usually wouldn’t receive a high level of media coverage on free-to-air TV or FoxSports.

As stated by Billings (2011), Twitter is the “predominant social media of choice for athletes…Twitter afford(s) athletes more control over the release of sports news while also increasing their self-presentation management.”

This is the main reason why I have falling in love with Twitter, because almost all athletes now have an account, I can follow my favourite athletes, which gives me a rare insight into the workings of their minds, pre game rituals and so on. The banter between Bryce Gibbs and Robbie Farrah is hilarious, and for some reason is so interesting to follow.

Thanks for the photo, 9gag.

Posetti makes an interesting point in her blog KEVIN07, stating that she basically believes the reason Rudd won the 2007 election was due to Twitter and other forms of social media. She highlighted the contrast between “the tech-savy Rudd, and yesterdays leader (Howard).” (Posetti 2010)

My personal opinion is that Rudd won because unlike Howard, he went onto Rove Live. OK, this may be a joke, but I do think this helped him connect with the twenty-somethings and win their respect. I believe it helped put a personality to the name, not just Rudd the politician, which ironically is also what Twitter does.

One of the biggest things that Twitter does is allow an actual conversation  between a broadcaster and the audience. In this technological age, the conversational aspect to journalism is gaining heaps of importance to a journalist, and Twitter allows an instant feedback with the audience. One of the highest profile examples of this is on the ABC show Q&A. The show allows instant Tweet-back via the Twitter hash-tag #qanda and has a stream of tweets that appear on the screen during the show. I consider myself to be politically naive, but I still get my Twitter out and attempt to say something intelligent/witty on Twitter in the hope that the director/who ever choses which tweets make it, will appear on the screen, thus completing my life.

During one episode of Q&A, 36,00 tweets were sent during one hour of the program, which was also during the election campaign( Scott 2010). I think this kind of interaction really highlights how popular Twitter has become, and the conversational element has become more important that ever to journalism.

It has never been so easy for an audience to interact and participate in a discussion with a journalist, and as Scott (2010) says, its “an encouraging sign for journalism.”

All in all, I think that the addition of Twitter to my life, and to every journalists life, has been a huge success. Stories are broken through Twitter, and Twitter has become the first point of call for a breaking story. Twitter was where I learnt about Osama’s death, the Tsunami in Japan, and even about the first planking death in Australia. I believe that in the coming 5 years, Twitter will only increase it’s popularity, and will become a major tool for journalists around the world.

References:

Scott, M 2010,‘The Golden Age for Australian Journalism’The Drum, ABC, November 25

Shiels, M 2011, Twitter celebrates its fifth birthday, BBC News, 21 March
Carlson, N 2011, Goldman to clients: Facebook has 600 million users, MSNBC, Business Insider, May
Hoberman, B 2011, Twitter “could go the way of the dodo”, Today, BBC, March 21

Posetti, J 2009, Rules of Engagement for Journalists on Twitter, PBS, Media Shift, June 19

Billings, A 2001 Sports Media, Rutledge, Taylor and Francis

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