It is unbelievable, really. Since it’s inception in 2006, Twitter has grown into an online sensation and has simultaneously revolutionized and destroyed journalism.
The good — For the responsible journalist Twitter is a dream come true; it is a platform on which you can break news to a mass of people without writing a 600-word story or a news brief.
As a sports fan, joining Twitter a little more than a year and a half ago has revolutionized the way I enjoy sporting events.
If I am at an event in person I’m draining my phone battery refreshing my Twitter app, getting the latest injury news and gauging fan interest.
If I am watching from home on my TV or computer I have Twitter open, waiting for instant reactions from fans that I respect, beat reporter’s injury news and stats, other players insights and jokes from fellow fans.
For myself, it has provided a way for me to spread my love of an underappreciated game, college baseball. Live-tweeting games from the press box helps fans become part of the game and follow the team’s success.
The bad — For the irresponsible, Twitter is a means to spread rumors and create buzz simply to draw clicks from trusting followers.
On Saturday, the official CBS Sports Twitter account reported that former Penn State Head Football Coach and industry legend, Joe Paterno had passed away, clearly without checking to make sure their sources were correct.
In fact, Paterno had not passed away and was in critical condition. Paterno passed away on Sunday.
CBS Sports released an apology to the public and to the Paterno family, but at that point all of the damage had been done, there is no reversing a report like that.
As the public is not nearly as connected as media experts, such as those at CBS Sports, the public relies on these professionals to report accurate information. When reporters fail to hold themselves to this standard, it is dangerous for journalism.
As college sports fans, Twitter has connected us with collegiate recruiting in a way that was not previously possible. In the past, we could follow recruit’s interest levels in certain schools and track their planned visits, but in this new media age we can actually talk to them.
But sometimes the power given to recruiting “insiders” is abused, reporting verbal commitments before they happen, sometimes even causing players to change their minds.
The bottom line is Twitter is a revolutionary tool that can be great for fans and reporters alike, but only if used properly.
For fans — Be a smart consumer of news and be able to distinguish between real reporters and “insiders.” Do not retweet “breaking news” unless the source you are retweeting provided legitimate sources.
For professionals — Be responsible for the sake of your readers. It really is that simple. Do not tweet rumors and limit your “breaking news” to actual confirmed news.
Let us all live in “Twi-harmony”.