My not-so-perfect attempt to Tweet live

On Monday, Caitlin and I attended one of Purdue’s WorkLife Program sessions with lecturer Karen Hosterman-Sabel. When we arrived, only the woman taking attendance and the guest speaker were there. When asked to sign in, we explained why we there and that our professor had notified the program that we would be attending as a class assignment. However, neither woman had heard anything about this and both were very confused as to what we were saying. So we took the time to explain ourselves and our assignment and asked if it was okay that we tweeted from the event. Reluctantly, they agreed.

During the event, Caitlin twittered away on her phone as I sat (obnoxiously) behind my computer because my phone is slowly going out-of-commission, and I didn’t want it to malfunction during the event. Only about 10 other people showed up to the event, all arriving after Caitlin and me. Watching us multitask, unaware of our assignment, they gave us very rude looks. One of those “Ugh, college students are so unappreciative.” I think this is one of the main problems with Twitter. I first noticed this at Com Day, Purdue’s career and development fair for communication majors. We were sitting in a development session, listening to Patrick Nycz from Indiana Design Consortium, and the girl next to me (in the front row I might add) was texting on her phone the entire time. I’m pretty sure she was tweeting a majority of the time, but it came across as though she was simply uninterested and was being extremely rude. I’m interested to see how this issue develops in the future. Personally, I think there is a time and place for it.

Back to issue at hand. Tweeting live from this event presented new difficulties as a reporter. For instance, I had to figure out “the big picture” during the presentation, not after. Also, sometimes it was difficult to fit everything I wanted to say into the 140 character limit, so I spent more time editing than listening to what the speaker was saying next. One of the main things I realized is that research beforehand is much more crucial when covering an event live. You don’t have time to sit there and research the speaker, double-check a fact or read more about something you didn’t understand. I also had trouble thinking in a “Twitter mindset” as opposed to a traditional reporter mindset. I’m so used to focusing on the main ideas, the facts and the relevant quotes, that I had trouble figuring out how to incorporate the little fun details that Twitter allows for. For example, the speaker made a couple of funny jokes, but I couldn’t find a way to portray them via 140 characters without them sounding lame or rude. I think humor is something that is very touchy over Twitter.

Personally, I would rather read a news story in the newspaper or online as opposed to Twitter. I have tried to follow events via Twitter, but the stories come across jumbled and tend to skip around a lot. However, I think as we learn and develop, this is a form of news that will improve greatly.

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February 2011

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