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Twitter ‘tik’ of journalism

Date Released: Tue, 30 October 2012 09:59 +0200

Print media out of tweet loop face being left behind

TWEETS guided specialist Twitter journalism teacher Raymond Joseph to his seminar venue at the Rhodes Journalism and Media Studies Department during the weekend floods.

Joseph, a veteran print journalist and media trainer, told journalism lecturers and honours students he had no idea if he would make his training session when he stepped off the plane in Port Elizabeth.

“But I checked on the tweets [and the state of the roads] and that’s how I got here,” he said.

Tweets from the public had alerted journalists to the crisis of the undermined Kasouga Bridge on the R72 and other road collapses and closures.

Joseph said Twitter had become a mainstream professional cellphone-based platform, and had distinguished itself from Facebook, which was for friends and personal issues while Twitter was where hard news and useful information was being shared.

He said print media which “do not get it”, faced being left behind, as millions of people turned the instant messaging medium into an almost uncontrollable “fire hose” of information and opinion.

“Ask and you will be told. You will be getting realtime (live) advice from the crowd,” he said.

Twitter had also been swept up by indigenous language-users, with tweets in isiXhosa starting to attract a large following. He said South African journalists were tapping into the medium, saying a discussion at a pub with a colleague had resulted in 300 journalists signing onto the “Hacks List: SA Journalists on Twitter”.

However, he warned that the universal tenets of journalism needed to be retained and practised; reporters had to constantly verify both the content and source of tweets from the public before publishing.

He accused reporters who published tweets without checking their veracity, of “lazy journalism”. Twitter should only be used as one source among many, and not the only source.

He also warned that Twitter was addictive, even calling it the “tik of journalism” and he urged reporters to use Twitter as a research and information gathering tool.

Twitter sites had been set up to assist journalists searching for information and data, and these were at the frontline of new media and journalism, he said.

Young and old academics and students seemed excited by the combination of Twitter and journalism. — mikel@dispatch.co.za

Source: Daily Dispatch.


Picture: SUPPLIED TWITTER SMART: Journalism teacher Raymond Joseph