Citizen Journalism through Tweets

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The recent revolts in the Middle East gave rise to very committed young citizen journalists who sweat to deliver news to the masses.

Background

This recent trend of citizen journalists has really shaped the way people use and perceive the media. All credit for its success goes to social media, specifically twitter. Twitter ability to spread the news in just 140 characters has attracted politicians, promoters, entrepreneurs and news reporters making news syndication a lot easier and more interesting. In the Gulf, the legal authorities are still new to the twitter marketing and general public is behind Egypt, Tunisia and Syria in terms of using Twitter to its full potential.

Definition

There is a huge debate about authenticity of citizen journalism and its credibility. Citizen journalism is simply reporters sharing live coverage of events with personal opinions. Since no expert opinion is involved and it may be one sided. The bias opinion allows a more in-depth look at the community. When combined with the opposing tweets, gives a more accurate picture by the people, for the people.

Rule Book

Journalism 101 teaches us that the first line (or Lede) of any story should contain the 5 Ws and H (who, what, where, why, when and How) about the incident. In 140 characters the message allows it to be more creative and interactive.

Twitter has become a media standard and when a user needs to find a personality and brand on twitter, all users accounts start with @ sign. Going to their page will list their tweets and their followers.

Using Twitter lists (eg. #UAE) twitter allows tweets to be linked to a single list allowing them to put their opinions with other like-minded tweeters, allowing tweeters to balance and personalize any given topic.

If one runs out of ideas to tweet, they can share other tweets by re-tweet ing. This is helpful when users want to share a tweet they like and want to put on their account. This however does not allow any modification to the tweet.

In order to give an opinion on a statement already tweeted (sort of an opinion article), users quote tweet which allows users add more text to the actual tweet in quotes. This technique builds more credibility as a citizen journalist.

Although twitter does not offer any ability to tweet pictures there are a lot of online services and mobile applications that allow tweeters to share pictures, video and audio.

Put in Practice

Although, twitter has grown extremely popular as a social media platform it is still far behind facebook in terms of users. Its charm to attract authentic personalities allows citizen journalists to share their life through pictures and video with real people behind the media.

To share pictures there are many sites that allow direct sharing of content with twitter followers. TwitPic is a good place to store all pictures shared on ones twitter account.

Tweets are as short as text messages and therefore prevent sharing of large web addresses which created the need for short addresses called (URL shortners). The most popular platform that has gained fame in the Gulf is Bit.ly. Use it to share any link to a site otherwise not shortened. Youtu.be and Pep.si have their own short links for easy social media sharing.

That was it. Hope this guide helps some people adapt to twitter.

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