Twitter & information
Twitter, since its inception in 2006, has become a popular medium for many people around the world to broadcast their thoughts in the powerful 140-character text it allows. As an offshoot of its feature, Twitter has become an outlet for the dissemination of raw information experienced firsthand by its users. With worldwide communication technologies improving swiftly, Twitter has undeniably became a source of breaking information at any time at any place for a person who has either a computer or a mobile phone.
Its capability to allow everybody to report and spread occurrences and updates in events has made it one of the centerpieces of citizen journalism. Citizen journalism according to Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis (Crawford 2010, p. 229) is defined as an “act of a citizen, or group of citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. ” Similar with traditional journalists, these participating citizens intends to propagate an objective, credible and accurate account of any information that the people needs to know.
Despite the strength and potential of Twitter as a news source, its founders have never intended it to be one (Crawford 2010). Claims of its various users may have been undoubtedly rocked and crawled into the minds of other users and have eventually reached the traditional news organizations but these do not happen every day. Twitter, Inc. CEO Evan Williams noted this phenomenon as not an “alert system” while co-founder Biz Stone gave it a more apt name of a “nervous system” (Crawford 2010, p. 225). Dissecting what both Twitter officials said, there are many instances that users have tweeted news from what they experienced.
Aptly, it cannot be called an alert system because despite the actual truth behind such posts, credibility also relies in big names and thorough background research on the event. Nervous system makes it more appropriate because it may indeed rapidly spread what has been happening and will enable the bigger news organizations to pick it up and feature it. On the other hand, news agencies and organizations like ABC, who have also join the bandwagon on 140-character updates, acknowledges it as a swift deliverer of headlines (Crawford 2010, p. 230).
A probable cause for the seen strength is that the main point in any news published or broadcasted by actual news services is the lead. The lead is the main point of any news that is importantly described as clear and concise, preferably 20 to 25 words. Literally, many users would fail if described as a journalist. Journalism, at is purest form, has been defined by Deuze (Crawford 2010, p. 230) as “occupational ideology, one which is defined and patrolled by those who self-identify as journalists”. Unless the user has indeed made a career out of journalism, he or she would rather be known as the source of news not a reporter.
Everything boils down now to what the Twitter enables its users (excluding accounts of news organizations) to become a citizen journalist. First, it allows them to publish events experienced firsthand and the Janis Krum experience is a big example of that (Crawford 2010, p. 228). However, bulk of the information that came from the man is subjective. The information is more on what he felt and not what the incident is about. Many of the users actually want to retell their experience and their feelings rather than informing the public of the incident.
Secondly, since this is based on experience, the belying background on the event can be disregarded does distorting the real big facts. Breaking news from its users does not also allow them to thoroughly investigate and verify the details they have received. Unlike in mainstream news outlets where you have to check the veracity of the information. Twitter may have indeed allowed citizen journalism to thrive but it is not more apt to be referred that way. Journalism takes more than reporting events that are detrimental to the people. Twitter is mainly a step on becoming one.
2) Gerard Goggin argues that “personal and portable technologies (such as mobile phones) are bringing about a distinctive form of news”. What changes have mobiles brought to the production and consumption of news? Discuss with reference to our readings for this course. Laptops and mobile phones have become some of the personal and portable technologies that are able today. These modern technologies have been built with features that have made communication more “intimate” with each other, bringing people around the world to converse as if they are in the presence of each other.
Nowadays, these modern amenities have upgraded the way we source in and out news. It has become an important tool for places where the media is suppressed and censored (Goggin 2010). Furthermore, the ability to connect to the worldwide web via mobile phones have made it more appealing that it can deliver news anywhere. Human rights and activism has been first of the recipients of the benefits of portable technologies. Gathering of activists has been planned just through SMS brigades and email messages.
As a result, update of such events have also been done through the same media. An example of which is the uprising of Buddhist monks in Burma, where the information has been suppressed by the military junta running the country (Goggin 2010, p. 319) With such small but powerful technologies, people have engaged in microblogging and video blogging like Twitter and Qik took news reporting in a more different level. Mobile journalism has readily enabled both the sender and receiver of the information to access multimedia platforms of the details.
Described as a ‘species’ of citizen journalism, it has rapidly helped the growth of a more pro-active citizens that are interested in what is happening Camera phones have given more color to narrating events with photos and videos of what indeed is happening. It has strengthened what has been called as citizen journalism. Citizen or participatory journalism, like that of what Voice of Africa promotes, has enabled citizens to reinforce the democracy people ought to have (Goggin 2010, p. 320). It gives them invariably a reason to be concerned on what is happening.
People begin to have a sense of informing others when the media fails to do so. Armed with a technology that enables them to share information real time makes them almost as powerful as the mainstream media outfits. Since immediacy and proximity is the name of the game, being equipped with the right technology at the right place and at the right time makes one advantageous if he or she have intended to share and let everybody know of the news (Goggin 2010). But mobile journalism is not all about citizens’ contributions. Mainstream media have also realized its potential as a medium to deliver their news.
According to Reuters Media Chief Scientist Nic Pulton, “By running on handheld devices, rather than on bulkier laptop computers, the mobile journalism application enables us to create complete stories and file them for distribution, without leaving the scene” (Goggin 2010, p. 325). Wires like Reuter, who live by minute-by-minute deadlines, have appreciated this mobile journalism to enable their reporters and correspondents to deliver news real time. With today’s mobile journalism, it has enabled people to access news that are more fresh and full of color.
Aside from reading an article explaining the event, a vivid picture or video showing what had happened give a more clearer version to the audience. News sources are not limited to just the media outfits but to everyday citizens as well who happen to chance a scene worth reporting. 3) According to Marc Cooper, (cited in Flew and Wilson’s article from week 6), it is not right to assume “that untrained citizen reporters can quickly and adequately replace trained reporters”. Do you agree? Why/why not? Your discussion should include references to our readings from week two (Nolan, David 2008).
With the rise of citizen journalism, many have said that traditional educated reporters will cease to exist. The enabling technology has been made available to anyone that it technically allows everyone to be a reporter. Many bloggers have appeared to report news that either the media suppressed or did not cover. Critics, coming from citizens journalists as well, have blamed the media for failures in reporting news. Despite the shortcomings of the actual news reporting outfits, untrained citizen reporters cannot quickly and adequately replace the trained ones.
David Nolan (2008) claims that the education trained journalists had is a development for the practice of “public trust. ” Basically, building credibility is in the forefront of news reporting by the traditional mainstream media, whereas citizen journalists have the need to inform everybody so they can be heard (Flew & Wilson 2010, p. 187). News values are what are instilled in traditional journalists to be able to weigh the importance of an event to make it as news. Years of gathering news depending on its values exercises their nose for one.
On the other hand, citizen journalists report news on what they have seen that they deem they want to share but they have shown skill in looking for news. Traditional journalists, unlike many other citizen journalists, have worked with professional ethics in mind (Flew & Wilson 2010). Protection of their credibility as a news source is as important as seeking the veracity of the news they report. The education that traditional journalists had, like the need to verify information received, is ‘pivotal to democracy’s survival’ (Nolan 2008).
And as Dates suggests (Nolan 2008, p. 67, journalism is more than a craft or a profession. I would rather believe that it is a vocation. Just by that, it clearly differentiates a journalist by profession or a journalist by chance. New media then comes into play with the rise of citizen journalists and as Lievrouw and Livingstone (Flew & Wilson 2010, p. 190) suggested there should be a defining mechanism to indicate that the Internet and other similar forms are not just an ‘extension of existing communications technologies’ but as a medium indeed for social interchanges.
This new media has challenged the traditional in their position as the source of news. When journalism can now be defined as a conversation (Flew & Wilson 2010, p. 187), it can be as easy to receive information from almost anyone. But the brand of reporting by the traditional journalists remain to become as objective as possible, belying the positions taken by citizen journalists in their reports. But the main point is trained journalists have more sense in looking for new angles in a story. They are also more equipped for digging deeper behind what the event is now.
Citizen journalists may begin to have some skills but they lack the training necessary to deliver news as objective as possible. They are most likely to include personal opinions in a report that might distort the idea of their audience. Probably, in the near future these citizen journalists may replace the traditional ones as they learn what is really behind the journalism profession. But for now, the training and values instilled in traditional ones are keys to keep an accurate and credible story posted for everyone to see.
Crawford, K. (2010). News to Me: Twitter and the Personal Networking of News. (G. Meikle, & G. Redden, Eds. ) News Online, pp. 135-156. Flew, T. , & Wilson, J. (n. d. ). Journalism as Social Networking: The Austrialian you decide project and the 2007 Federal Election. 186-216. Goggin, G. (2010). The Intimate Turn of News: Mobile News. In e. b. Redden, . London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. (pp. 313-319). London: Palgrave Macmillan. Nolan, D. (2008). Journalism and Professional Education: A Contradiction in Terms? Media International Australia, 67-78.