Our current generation is known for having this look: headphones-in, head down, eyes set on the screen in hand.
Now, a lot of people see a bunch of college kids sitting around glued to their cellphones or tablets and think that we are rude and out of touch with the world around us. However, we are incredibly in-touch.
When I am standing in Starbucks waiting for my grande vanilla latte and I’m choosing to keep my head down and fixate on my phone it is not because I don’t want to interact with the people around me.
What I am actually doing is scrolling through my Twitter feed where I can find the latest articles that the New York Times or Rolling Stone are posting. Or sometimes I am going through all of my unread emails that I need to answer.
Our world is at our finger tips and I don’t think it is a problem at all. This is exactly the kind of behavior that anybody in my shoes should be partaking in. If you want to be a journalist in today’s world, you need to be checking your phone at least every hour. If you are not, then you are out of touch.
If I’m sitting in a long class, or driving a long distance and I can’t check my Twitter feed or Instagram I could be missing something big, that is happening right at that moment–and when something breaks you need to be on it or else by the time you get to it it is old news.
Having a healthy “news diet” is exactly what every journalist needs to stay on top or even to break in.
Being on top of the news is the first step to beating the competition because even if you saw a story on social media 10 minutes before somebody else did, that’s 10 minutes that you were working on that story more than they have been–especially if you are working for a publication that is web based.
If you are a web-editor this is extremely important. As a web-editor you are in charge of handling what you are circulating or sharing from your site. You have to make sure that the stories you are receiving from your writers are the most up-to-date. You also need to be aware on when to update your stories. One of the biggest ways to make sure you are on top of this is to be aware of what is going on, through social media or other blogs or online publications.
If I am managing my own blog, I need to follow many other blogs that discuss the same types of topics that I do. I need to check those blogs regularly, a couple of times a day.
For example, if I am running a blog that talks about music and I want to write a story about Rihanna’s new song with Kanye West and Paul McCartney, I need to know that sites such as Rolling Stone and blogs like Pitchfork have already done stories about that. So I need to know what different angle I can take.
It’s very important to follow blogs or Twitter accounts that are of your area of interest so that when you want to write a story about something you are well-aware of what other people have done and what you need to do to add to the story, or make it different. You also need to always be up-to-date on what is happening and when it is happening.
Aside from the fact that having a Twitter account, and other forms of social media, is important for consuming news, they are just as important for promoting yourself.
Twitter is a great way to connect with people and build a community online.
So as for the assignment to set up a Tweetdeck, follow your classmates on Twitter, follow journalists who you admire on Twitter and follow blogs–I think this is incredibly helpful and actually, crucial.
Sounds kind of dramatic or intense, but that’s the way we need to go about our work. Now, go bury your face into your phone and get on Twitter!