Welcome to my second edition of J-School Journal. I hate that name, so instead of formalizing my feature with a name I’m just going to commit to writing a post about journalism and journalism school on Friday, without worrying that it has a snazzy button or name (unless I come up with something cool later ).
Last week during my first multimedia storytelling class, our professor asked us to use Twitter during her lecture on the history of multimedia and online journalism. We did this as an exercise in becoming multitasking reporters than can micro-blog during conferences and meetings (something that is becoming pretty popular).
Using #J880 and TweetChat, our class started sending tweets during the lecture. But instead of being commentary or discussion on what was happening, the conversation turned almost immediately into a private chat of sorts, making jokes with each other rather than commenting about the lecture. Because we were tweeting so quickly, #J880 showed up on Twitter’s “Trending Topics” list — right next to #inaug09 (inauguration tweets) and topics like Apple and President Obama. The conversation then got interrupted by someone wanting to know what #J880 meant; our “private conversation” then became immediately public, even though it was never really private at all.
This exercise reinforced one of the things I’ve always thought about Twitter — learning to use it well isn’t intuitive, even though the concept seems simple. I can see why Twitter would be useful, and probably has staying power for crowd journalism and other ways to get readers involved with the news gathering process. I just don’t quite get how yet, and am looking for more examples. Luckily, Online Journalism Blog also just posted a list of 10 Twitter users that every journalism student should follow, so maybe watching some of them will help.
There are lots of useful ways to use Twitter (monicaguzman is an interesting journalist on Twitter, too) and lots of silly ways to waste time. If journalists want to make Twitter an important part of their newsroom and newsgathering process, we need to learn to use it in a way that makes sense, but I’m just not sure how to do that.
How you can even begin to learn or teach how to use Twitter? Is it just practice makes perfect? And does Twitter have staying power as a tool for journalists?
P.S. You can follow me on Twitter (I don’t tweet much, yet!)