By AUSTEN GREGERSON
The days of Ashton Kutcher blabbering about what time he ate lunch are over. Twitter has, and is, evolving, turning from a relatively unknown and misunderstood website to a legitimate tool, especially for young journalists. Nowadays, poking fun at Twitter is like ridiculing movies from the 1980s. Yes, it’s an easy target, but there is real value there (Raging Bull) if you can get past some if its flaws (The Goonies).
CONS: One-hundred and forty characters is not a lot of space, especially if you’re trying to do anything more than reprint a headline. Also, the possible sources available on Twitter do open up venues that might have once been shut off, but the massive amount of impostor posters creates another step of fact-checking needed before you can go with a possible story lead. Also, there have been numerous cases of celebrities being exposed for having their assistant or someone else update their feed for them, even on the accounts verified by Twitter to be who they say they are. It’s fast, but it’s far from reliable.
Looking forward, the informal nature of the site may make it difficult for many people to take information from Twitter very seriously, and understandably so. It’s hard to differentiate between breaking news and celebrity updates when they are put side by side.
PROS: Where Twitter has the biggest chance to make a long-lasting impact on consumers and producers of information is on how we exchange information. All goofiness aside, someone’s Twitter feed can already be easily tooled to be a personal newswire for any and all topics that people will post on. While it will never replace standard-form reporting, the agility and swiftness of Twitter to share information instantaneously from pocket to pocket has and will continue to revolutionize the way word spreads.
One such step already taken by Twitter is the ability to create custom “feeds,” where users are allowed to select which posts from accounts they follow show up, and where. Now instead of having to filter through the posts of my friends and family to get to any breaking news, I can relegate my loved ones to their own section of Twitter in order to have a clearer picture of what’s going on in the world.
As with any trend, the possibility of its interest slipping off is entirely possible, relegating it to just another fad. But by attempting to change the way we as a society communicate with each other, Twitter increases its probability of sticking around for a while. Social media is a fact that all journalists must deal with, in an ever-increasing volume, with no signs of slowing.
If used properly as a means to aid in the spread information, by passing along story links and short headlines, Twitter will absolutely be beneficial to the news industry. We constantly strive to find the newest and fastest way to deliver information to the consumer, and having direct access to an unlimited amount of readers can only be a positive. Where trouble does lie is if the tail starts wagging the dog.
Journalists must still practice the same values and ethics preached on print while using Twitter, not being too enticed by its speed and ease, putting the quality of their work in jeopardy. A rumor on Twitter is still just a rumor, having someone else repeat it doesn’t mean it’s been verified. But as much is the job of any reporter, to be able to place proper value on the resources he or she has at their disposal, and Twitter is too good of an option to just throw away.