Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tweeting Sports Journalists: Curley Center Commentary

To tweet, retweet or maybe not retweet is a question facing all journalists in today’s media landscape. For sports journalists in particular, learning and understanding how to harness Twitter is an issue that can mean breaking a story or non-story.

Lori Shontz, member of the Curley Center board of directors, tackled this issue in the first monthly Curley Center commentary.

After hearing a journalist suggest that ignoring Twitter is like “not using the phone,” Shontz couldn’t help asking how Twitter should be used if it’s so important to journalists. Editors and writers don’t have guidelines to follow, instead relying on instinct and training to determine when a tweet should be taken seriously or when information should be shared.

Shontz cites recent stories regarding freshman quarterback Rob Bolden and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley as examples of the challenges of using Twitter. For journalists covering the Bolden story, Twitter effectively drew readers to articles and information about the player’s attempts to transfer. However, unchecked tweets about Bradley being hired by Pitt left writers scrambling for information and Rewteeting apologies for disseminating incorrect information.

Although guidelines may be harder to develop, it seems that falling back on ethical responsibilities may be the most effective way to approach Twitter.

For the whole commentary by Shontz, check out Harnessing Twitter remains a challenge for sports journalists on the Curley Center’s official website.

- Melanie Formentin

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