My digital journalism class incorporated the use of the social networking website Twitter throughout the quarter. We were to seek and follow various types of individuals that worked in the field of journalism ranging anywhere from reporters to photographers each week. In addition, we had to have a minimum of 5 tweets per week of content related to journalism. We also used Twitter as a mechanism to promote our projects we worked on throughout the quarter. I knew very little about Twitter and never bothered using it before. This part of the class was a whole new experience for me.
There were some very significant historical events and natural disasters in 2011, many of them happening over the last ten weeks. I started using Twitter on the heels of these events such as Tunisia and Egypt uprising to overthrow their president, Libya fighting for democracy, United States dropping bombs Libya, Japan’s 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami. Natural disasters were happening here at home in Joplin, Missouri with a massive and destructive tornado as well as Mississippi river floods. These were common topics discussed every day on Twitter.
The most significant event I experienced on Twitter was the death of Osama Bin Laden. The president was scheduled to make an announcement but wasn’t going to speak for a bit. I immediately pondered on what it could be. Surprisingly, my first instinct was to go check my Twitter account to see if there were any leads as to what the special announcement was about. As suspected, Twitter was going crazy with activity and speculation on what the announcement was about. This was fascinating at the time and over the course of the next few days this event was the prime focus and topic of discussion on Twitter. Eventually it felt like there was overkill on the subject with fabricated stories and pictures. This was a good illustration of how the media can take one topic and become obsessed with it until the next topic arises. This was rather annoying and is one of the things that frustrate me the most about the media.
I’m still personally having mixed emotions about Twitter because I see the drama that it causes amongst our youth today and quite frankly adults too. However, on a professional level I do believe the use of Twitter with respect to the journalism world is a must to keep up with the pace of this revolving digital world door. My experience with Twitter has been very eye opening with respect to how prominent it’s used in the media. I think it’s a great way to promote your work and try to reach out to a large number of people. I do like the fact that it feels like one stop shopping and I can go to one central place to look at many news organizations, specific individuals and topics of interest. I was drawn to Twitter more and more as the quarter progressed due to my limited time schedule. Ironically though, I often found myself sucked into Twitter spending long periods of time on it when I really should have been doing other things. This was something that turned me off about Twitter. I had a couple of news websites that I faithfully visited every day on the internet. By the end of the quarter I was no longer visiting these sites. I’m surprised how my habits completely changed so subtly. It really made me think our culture is changing right before my eyes.
I don’t think Twitter is just a fad that will die out, I believe it’s here to stay and has become more acceptable in our society as an avenue of communication. It will be interesting to see where the state of Twitter is at in 5 years. I do plan on continuing to use Twitter but with a more specific focus on healthcare as it relates to my current professional career.