How 500 million tweets a day have changed the world

ImageYesterday during the American Society of News Editors conference, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo spoke about the impact and growth of Twitter, as well as it’s influence on the ever-changing world of media and journalism. In a one-on-one interview and a live question and answer (streamed live on CSPAN for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there), Costolo gave newspaper editors everything they wanted to hear, and some of what they didn’t, about what Twitter does for journalism.

“We think of Twitter as a global town square; public, live, where conversation and media are distributed,” said Costolo when asked whether or not he viewed Twitter as a journalistic body.

“We don’t do any analysis of information as it pours in. We don’t report on the tweets as they come in, we think we’re complementary to news organizations. It’s the job of journalists to analyze, synthesize and go deeper into information,” he added.

Twitter changed the way journalists handle incoming and breaking news, no doubt about it. But more and more frequently, we’re seeing journalists use Twitter as a crutch for their reporting and we’re seeing “news” programs like Sportscenter use Twitter as the basis for a lot of their one-liners. What happened to writing and reporting on your own? Have we created a market as members of the media where we’re so pressured to push out content that we can’t even take the time to write our own damn stories?

ImageI’m reading this book, An Accidental Sportswriter by Robert Lipsyte and he talks about how Gay Talese meticulously examined every sentence, reading each word with the upmost importance. Granted, Talese’s time and ours are slightly different, but the thought process still needs to be there. Our words are the product, they’re what we get paid for. If a cook was more worried about speed than quality, we’d be eating a lot of undercooked meat.

I know some of you are sitting there thinking, “that’s not a similar scenario.” Bullshit.

Our words move mountains, at least they have the potential to. They put us in (and out of) wars, removed people from office,  and changed the prices of stocks enough to give the guys on the NYSE floor a heart attack. Our words mean something. They are substantial, and we need to treat them like that.

Instead of using Twitter as a crutch, why don’t we use it as a resource. A spot to find new sources, a chance to deliver our content and do more than just advertise it, communicate to our audience about what it means.

I see journalists send 25 tweets a day about new and old stories they’ve pumping out, but not one tweet about the message behind it. If someone asks you a question or comments through Twitter, answer it. Pose questions to your followers. Your avatar on Twitter holds more weight as it scrolls through a timeline than an old friend from college.

Use that power.


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About joemartin2014

J-student at Arizona State University, and pursing a minor in business as well.

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