Twitter news assignment

Your assignment for using Twitter as a news tool is to cover an event and post at least five tweets, then write a blog post about it. The event could be a speaker, a sports event or even a street fair that you run across. Please attempt to take and post a couple of photos in your Twitter feed. (If your phone doesn’t allow you to post pictures, don’t worry about it.)

You’ll find that once you get rolling, you’ll have no difficulty writing more than five tweets. But five is a good minimum to shoot for.

Do not forget to include a link to your Twitter feed in your blog post. Otherwise I won’t be able to find it.

Posting links by cellphone is too difficult, and doesn’t fit all that well with covering an event. But, as a rule, posting links is one of the most important things you can do on Twitter, as it enables you take part in the ongoing conversation. These days, most Twitter clients take care of link-shortening automatically.

Once you are done, write up a brief blog post describing the event, what you were hoping to accomplish and what you see as the positives and negatives of covering a story via Twitter.

If you are completely puzzled by the idea of covering an event via Twitter, I thought I would link to a few of the tweets I posted on the evening of Dec. 8, 2009, when I was at Martha Coakley’s headquarters following her victory in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. During the campaign, the hashtag #masen became universally known as the best way to tag your tweets so that other people interested in the race could find them. As you’ll see, some of these tweets include photos. A random sample:

I make no great claims for what I wrote that night on Twitter. Mainly I was just passing the time while gathering material for my Guardian column (which turned out to be wrong in an almost breathtaking manner). But I think they’re a fair example of what a reporter can do with Twitter at the scene of an event.

You may also look at what I did and say to yourself, “Oh, is that all he’s looking for? Big deal.” That would be a good thing.

I also expect to do some live-tweeting from the launch party for The Phoenix later this evening.

Deadline: Monday before class.


About Dan Kennedy

I am an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University, and I'm using for my blog, Media Nation, as well as class websites.
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