Five Reasons George Uses Twitter in His Journalism Classroom

As I talk briefly at the UA System Scholars Institute this afternoon about using Twitter, here are the FIVE takeaways:

1. It’s a Requirement today for Breaking News
If we learned anything from the story of bin Laden’s death or the details of the Tuscaloosa Tornado, Twitter was a necessary conduit for information.

2.  Our Students are Beginning to Show Up There. 
More students than ever before are raising their hands when I ask “how many of you are already on Twitter?”  This has shifted dramatically in just 12 months’ time.

3. I’m always interested in Building New Relationships for New Information
Every event that I intend where there’ someone else on Twitter is an opportunity for a relationship that will benefit my students either with a new story or insight or bit of information that can influence either their career or my own career.

4. Journalists Have to Do Research, A Goal that is accomplished with Twitter. 
My colleague at Belmont University Sybril Bennett has the THREE R’s of Twitter- Research, Relationships and Reputation.   Will I prioritize the first “R” as the biggest for me.  When I read someone else’s tweets, I find so many information that may or may not be available in the library or a web site that I didn’t know exists.

5. I’m Building My Own Online Community To Which I Invite My Students. 
With 400+ followers whose work and tweets I follow, I have my own community with whom I can collaborate.

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Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

3 thoughts on “Five Reasons George Uses Twitter in His Journalism Classroom”

  1. If not for Dr Lamme requiring me to open a Twitter account and tweet regularly in her PR Management class, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without really noticing I gained a huge advantage over my peers because of my familiarity and comfort using Twitter and other social media. Professors such as Dr Lamme and Dr Daniels are invaluable assets to their students and UA’s communications college for championing new media in the classroom.

  2. George,

    Here are my 10 reasons:

    10 reasons for you to Twitter the JEM 200/230 lecture

    Twitter is a modern form of news distribution that students should understand and know how to use. It is growing in popularity, and it has become the source of first resort in breaking news. No journalism student can escape Twitter. Nor should he or she want to.

    So, Twitter the JEM 200/230 lecture because:

    — It focuses you on the lecture and makes you listen.
    — Your thoughts need to be summed up into less than 140 characters. Write short, but make sure you make sense.
    — You need practice writing in real time, as an event happens. The lectures in these courses offer the perfect opportunity.
    — You are writing for an audience (fellow students and beyond) who will be reading what you’ve written and posted at the time you are writing it.
    — As you read the tweets of other people (and you should), you will see how others are reporting the same event you are reporting.
    — You can establish a dialogue with others — a conversation that will help you in this course and in your learning to report.
    — The conversation can be self-correcting. If you make a mistake, someone can correct you, and vice versa.
    — You’ll have a permanent record of notes of the lecture — and everybody else’s notes.
    — You can learn the art of using hashtags, retweets and other Twitter functions.
    — This is the way journalism is being practiced, particularly on mobile devices.

  3. I agree with some of Jim’s thoughts in addition to the five you mentioned in the post. I was using Twitter way before I changed my major to journalism, but now I see it in a completely new light.

    The biggest thing Twitter does for me now, is to learn how to write within guidelines. Like Jim said, “Your thoughts need to be summed up into less than 140 characters. Write short, but make sure you make sense.” So many times before, I just found myself sending 3-4 tweets to convey a message. Twitter spam is an easy way to ruin the relationships and reputation part of the three R’s.

    Journalism in many ways is just like Twitter. You only have so many inches for a story in the paper, or you have to keep the word count limited, etc. It’s a discipline thing, so that while you are out in the field, you can still stay disciplined enough to get the tweet out, but also make sure that in 140 characters – you have done your job.

    The note taking part is also something I utilize as well, as I will go back to pull quotes or stats for a story after an event.

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