Creating Journalists at Emmanuel College

A guide for ENGL 2501 and ENGL 3801

The gentle art of live-Tweeting

I spend most nights at The Sun following reporters on Twitter. Sometimes I’m keeping an eye on police reporter Rob Mills after he runs out of the newsroom with a muttered aside about a car crash or possible shooting. Other reporters are at meetings, where they are encouraged, especially when there is something controversial on the agenda, to live-Tweet the happenings.

We re-Tweet the more important happenings from The Sun‘s Twitter account. If a reporter isn’t able to file a brief from wherever he or she is, sometimes an editor in the newsroom will cobble together something for the website from their Tweets or I’ll throw together a Storify to collect all this news as it happens in one stream.

For example: on the night Tewksbury voted at Town Meeting that they really, really didn’t want to play host to a slots parlor in town, reporter Katie Lannan was Tweeting fast and furious and I was grabbing her output as fast as I could for a constantly updating Storify that was in the lead spot.

Shortly after that, we were given a new digital toy to play with: ScribbleLive, an app that allows us to follow several live-Tweeting reporters and/or a #hashtag all at once. Rather than depend on an editor to drag and drop, it does it all for us, and one of the first outings was on Election Night in Lowell.

Students in Writing for Electronic Media will be learning how to use the Storify app this semester.  Since both of my journalism classes will be live-Tweeting our guest speaker this Wednesday (weather permitting — I have a post set to go on him but I’m eying the forecast), I asked a few reporters for tips on how they handle their need to take notes with their live-Tweeting responsibilities.

“I try to use my Tweets as notes,” Lannan said. “I try to fill in the gaps with my actual notes. I try to not Tweet quotes, just summarize.”

Reporter Rick Sobey added that live-Tweeting is not necessarily live-to-the-second.

“I wait for a break in the action,” he said. “The Tweet might come a few minutes after it was said.”

Live-Tweeting is now a tool every journalist should expect to use. Make sure your bring your phone and/or laptop to class Wednesday to take notes and live-Tweet. I’ll be assigning a hashtag in class.

How did I embed the Tweets above on my Word Press blog? Directions are here.


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This entry was posted on January 20, 2014 by in Digital Tools, Journalism and tagged .

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