You see it on TV all the time, screen shots of celebritie’s and politician’s tweets displayed during major shows and news hours. In addition to affecting newsrooms, Twitter is allowing citizen journalism to reach new levels due to its accessibility by anyone with web access. That is all good and well, but should Twitter be considered a legitimate source?
Every public tweet since March 2006 is being stored by The Library of Congress (LoC). When this happened the LoC said to ‘expect an emphasis on scholarly and research implications regarding Twitter’. I think we are beginning to see the results.
Twitter and Journalism
Twitter has changed journalism. It has increased the speed at which news is shared and has become a valuable research tool. Twitter broke the news about Whitney Houston’s death 27 minutes before the press. Many people are not going to newspapers for their first burst of news, they are checking tweets.
According to the “State of the News Media 2012” report by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, nine percent of the respondents in the latest survey “very often” follow news recommendations from Facebook or Twitter. This has increased 57 percent from 2009. The study also found most digital news readers are still “very likely” to use search, web or app news aggregators or direct visits to obtain news. The study also found that 23 percent of U.S. adults get news from two devices. Another noteworthy discovery from the study – Twitter is more highly regarded than Facebook as a source of news story recommendations.
Natasha Rudnick, assignment editor and producer at CBS News in New York, shares her experience with Twitter as a journalist in “Twitter: A journalist’s gateway to the world.” Overall, she found Twitter to be a useful for journalists. Twitter embraces the changes it is bringing to the press. Twitter even offers a guide “Twitter for Newsrooms.” Explaining the ins and outs of Twitter for journalists.
Celebrated journalists such as Katie Couric are on board with Twitter. Check out her interview with Brian Solis on Social Media and Real-Time Journalism.
Twitter is affecting journalism, not only by allowing more citizens to report and comment on news, but by also by transforming the speed at which news is shared.
But just as in business cases, strategy is important. Social media and journalism strategy is not the same as a business looking to sell product.
Twitter and Academia
If Twitter is a journalist source, can is also be considered an academic source? The Modern Language Association provides guidelines on how to cite a Tweet.
“On Twitter, what is determined to be an academic resource is often times very subjective and is directly related to the Tweeter’s credentials or acknowledge expertise on the subject under discussion,” a Minnesota State University Reference Librarian said. Before including a tweet in an academic paper, I would recommend checking with the professor since citing a Tweet in academia is a relatively new concept; it may not be accepted by all professors. I project that in the future more professors will include Twitter citations in their research which may pave the way for students to be allowed to use Twitter as an academic source. With support from the Modern Language Association and the Library of Congress archiving all public tweets, Twitter is slowly becoming a legitimate source for journalists and academia.
Do you think Twitter is a valid source for journalist and academic papers? Would you ever cite Twitter as a source? Would you trust news organizations that use Twitter as a source? Should Twitter sources always be cross referenced?
Jenny is a social media enthusiast who also writes for the blog over at Four51
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