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The Trouble With The Trouble With The Twitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Melissa Hart wrote an article about The Trouble with Twitter as a tool for journalism in The Chronicle of Higher Education today. Hart is a prof. at the University of Oregon, where I secured a degree in Political Science a handful of years ago. Hart’s article is worth reading because it’s funny and moving, even if (I think) it is wrong. Neglected are the ways that Twitter can supplement full-lengthed writing (no one just shares links on Twitter for a living and calls themselves a journalist, not even the awesome Breaking News Online guys) or the way Twitter can help with listening. I’ve written here about how Twitter is paying my rent (now my mortgage) and I like to point to this article from 18 months ago made up almost entirely of interviews performed on Twitter. I’d write that better today, I like to think, but it demonstrates the usefulness of the tool none the less.

The point is, Twitter is not just a broadcast system – it is at its most useful as a listening tool. (The White House suffers the same shortsighted thinking about Twitter.)

Do I think that Hart is right when she mourns the declining public appreciation for longer, more thoughtful and well-researched journalism? I do. If “reporting” tends to be faster and more superficial than “journalism” and the social web is pushing us towards writing that is faster than both – then I know I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too. I’m aiming to get my writing out at the speed of a Tweet, with the accuracy of a reporter and the thoughtfulness of a journalist. I’m not there yet, but there’s mostly bad habits standing between me and that goal, I think the goal’s in sight. It seems a shame to me when we focus so much on how the web is making our culture worse. I don’t think that’s the whole story at all.

Hart, incidentally, is here on Twitter. I hope she tweets some more, I enjoyed her article on the subject.

  • Marshall,

    I agree with your defense of Twitter as an adjunct tool in support of journalism and “real” reportage.

    I also agree that our collective attention span is getting shorter, and that the media rewards immediacy vs. depth. In fact, our world demands more thoughtful interpretation.

    Only think I don’t get is: the punchline behind the heading. Is the a glitch in the glitch in the Twitter Matrix? 🙂


  • Oops…”only think” should be “only thing,” thus demonstrating the habits of one immersed in the read/write/edit/make careless mistakes/rewrite Web…

  • The goal is in sight, not “in site”

  • Marshall

    Thanks Wayne, fixed that. Like I said, good writing is right around the corner! lol

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