Navigating the dangers of tweeting

With the growing popularity of social media, the way journalists deliver news is quickly changing. Journalists like Anderson CooperChristiane Amanpour and nearly everyone in between seem to be using the social network Twitter to deliver up-to-the-minute news. While there are many pros of Twitter in journalism, there are also many dangerous cons – but there are ways to navigate it successfully.

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 6.00.13 PM

Header of CNN’s Breaking News Twitter account
Photo by Kristina Bornholtz

 

Dangerous game

While Twitter is a popular way to deliver news in the online world, there are dangers that come with immediacy. Jodi Edna for the American Journalism Review says that there are a few major problems with news on Twitter:

  • Everyone can be a “journalist”
  • Everything can be news
  • Unclear lines between what is ethical to report on – especially when information is overheard

 

Can make us better journalists

News has never been as immediately accessible as it is now. It is as easy as opening Twitter and watching a journalist live tweet from conflicts around the world. Mallary Jean Tenore for Poynter.org says that “live tweeting” (or “live blogging”) can make us better journalists because

  • The power of observation is strengthened
  • More quotes and different stories can be told immediately
  • Helps keep journalists more aware of stories as they’re developing

 

Tweeting tips

For or against, you may end up using Twitter at some point during your career. But how does one maintain credibility in Twitter’s 140 character limit? Through Twitter, every letter counts. But attribution remains the most important thing. This can be obtained by:

  • Attributing sources by @-tagging their Twitter username
  • Linking back to full online-posts that may have more information, current or background

Associated Press says it is most important that when breaking news hits, you get it to the news desk first, Tweet about it later. Your priority is always your outlet.

 

Whether or not you are for or against Twitter, there is not much avoiding it now. It has become a part of the journalism world. The best thing to do is to stay credible, stay true to your story, and most importantly, stay true to your readers.

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