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7 Tips for using Twitter as a journalistRead More
Twitter has come a long way since its release in 2006, and according to a recent survey of 14 countries, nearly 60% of journalists now use it for everything from developing new stories to verifying facts and finding sources.
Guardian reporter Paul Lewis demonstrated just how valuable Twitter can be to a journalist by sharing his story of how the social networking service enabled him to track down witnesses and verify facts in his investigations into two controversial deaths.
But although Twitter can be a powerful tool, there are also a few things that journalists need to be cautious of, such as inadvertently spreading inaccuracies or tweeting things that could be misconstrued and reflect badly on themselves or the media outlet they represent.
Here are eight tips for avoiding the pitfalls and for using Twitter more effectively.
1. Learn to separate fact from fiction
In a recent TED talk, journalist Markham Nolan talks about how today’s journalists often rely on the audience to find news and figure out what angle to take.
This is a significant change from the days when the audience could only react to the news after it had been reported, and while it has made things easier for journalists in some ways, it has also made it more challenging to separate the real facts, images and footage from the fakes that inevitably end up online.
An important takeaway from Nolan’s talk is just how vital it is to fact-check before reposting or reporting about things that appear online.
If a story or fact you propagate turns out to be inaccurate, it’s your reputation (and that of your employer) that will take the hit. Fortunately, the web also provides us with the tools to sift through all the available information and pick out the important and accurate – it’s just a matter of learning how to use them.
2. Keep tweets as clear and straightforward as possible
Getting your message across in just 140 words will take some practice, but keep in mind that the most effective tweets are those that are clearly worded and easy to understand at a glance.
Cramming too many hashtags or @ mentions into one tweet can make it difficult to read and may even appear spammy. Try to use these features only when necessary to provide context or link the tweet to a particular trend or conversation.
3. Use images effectively
Tweets that include images tend to be far more popular, and a Buffer App analysis showed that tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites, and 150% more retweets. This is likely because images are more eye-catching and provide insight that a written description just never can.
Along with photos that relate to the headline or story you are tweeting about, things like infographics and charts can be very effective. Just double check that the image you want to share looks good on the Twitter webpage and on a mobile app, as well as in high definition.
4. Start conversations, rather than only tweeting headlines
When you’re tweeting out breaking news, a headline is usually enough to get readers interested, but for most other stories, you need to find a way to pique curiosity or start a conversation through your tweet.
For example, you could share your favourite part of the story, mention an interesting detail about how you first came across the story, highlight an interview you conducted, or even ask a question that will get readers talking.
Including interesting stats or quotes in your tweets, can also be a great way to generate interest without going into a long description about the content you are sharing or referring to.
5. Interact with your audience
Twitter is a great platform for sharing content and distributing information, but another big reason for its popularity among journalists is the ability to interact with your audience in real time.
Always make a point of answering questions directed at you, and try to reply or retweet when someone shares an interesting viewpoint or feedback that you think may benefit other readers.
In addition to directly engaging with your audience, you can also promote conversations from around your site to show people that you are interested in what they have to say. For example, your tweets could sometimes feature popular reader’s comments or letters to the editor.
Aside from showing your readers that they are being heard, this can generate further interest in stories or topics that have already proven to be popular.
6. Provide some background information
When tweeting about breaking news, it can also be great to share related stories to provide some context. If you have any archived stories about the same person, company or happening that is in the spotlight, sharing these can give readers some perspective and a clearer insight into how the current situation developed.
7. Follow newsworthy people and organisations
Journalist and Editor Steve Buttry often writes about using Twitter in journalism, and points out that the ability to follow newsworthy people and organisations is one very valuable use of Twitter for journalists.
“If you don’t follow the people and organisations on your beat, you are going to miss news as sure as if you ignore their news releases, press conferences and misstatements they make in their public speeches,” notes Buttry.Whether you cover sports, celebrities or politics, Twitter can be a great source of information. Most public figures now use Twitter to express opinions and share their views or make official statements, and any of these have the potential to be newsworthy.
The 10 best places in the world to photographRead More
Getting the perfect snap can take a lifetime's work, and many photographers may feel like they have never taken the "perfect" photo. The following locations across the world are renowned for their beauty, which attract both budding photographers and professionals alike year after year. What ones are on your bucket list?
This abandoned city was lost up until the mid-19th century and it's certainly reflected in its overgrown and abandoned state. The dappled light that fades in the afternoon is praised by photographers from around the world for how it highlights the ancient ruins. A secret treasure, there are some great shots to be taken here, including reflections of the temple in the moat, and impressive carvings which are scattered throughout the abandoned city. You may even get lucky and see one of the monkeys that live in the area: make sure you use a fast shutter speed to capture them though!
Perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks from around the world, Chichen Itza provides an unusual photographic setting with its distinctive triangular shape and steep stairs. With over three thousand years of history hidden here, the impressive shape of the building is perfect for capturing the sunrise or sunset of the day as it creates some distinctive shadows.
Another inspiring ancient city, Petra is well known for its red rose coloured walls and openings carved into the rock face. One of the best shots you can get is through the winding Siq Gorge which leads you up to the entrance of the city, and once you're in there's plenty of hidden doorways and carvings to capture.
Iceland is one of the most unusual places to capture on camera. A volcanic island which has a distinct lack of ice, there are lots of lava fields, geysers and craters to explore across the country. At this national park, which is the starting point for Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth, you'll find serene landscapes and a rolling volcanic backdrop. Perfect for panoramic shots.
One of the mysteries of the UK, Stonehenge is a series of rectangular stones that have been perched on top of each other in a circular fashion. It's always been debated as to what the purpose of the blocks are and how they even got there with the primitive technologies available at the time. However they got there, the area has been a source of allure for all sorts of photographers from casual snappers to the professionals. It's a wonderful place to experiment with time lapse photos: the clear skies are ideal for capturing the movement of the stars at night or the rising and setting sun of the day.
The pristine white building of the Taj Mahal and its long water feature create the perfect landscape shot. A tricky picture to get right, you will want to ensure the bright white of the building and the glare of the sun don't wash out the rest of the photo. Try taking a snap late in the day when the sun isn't as high in the sky, or alternatively at night, when it practically gleams in the dark. As one of the most romantic places in the world, you may have to nudge proposing couples out of the way to get the ideal shot though!
The Pyramids of Egypt are one of the most talked about wonders of the world, yet the photographs which are usually seen of the landmarks can be deceiving. The city of Cairo virtually comes up to the doorstep of the Pyramids, and a fun photo can be getting the contrast between the clear desert and the bustling city which neighbour each other.
Aside from the fantastic beaches, Hawaii is also best known for its collection of volcanoes, with Kilauea the centrepiece of the national park. It's the most active volcano in the world, so chances are you'll be able to get some amazing shots of flowing lava: a tricky snap to get right, but wonderful when you manage to pull it off. Visit in the daytime (the easiest time to get a lava shot, as at night the colours become distorted) and bring a few different lenses with you: if the volcano is pretty lively then chances are you'll want a zoom lens so you don't have to get too close!
Simply bursting with history, you'll want to take an extra memory card or two when you visit this bustling city. With sights such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps all offering great photo opportunities, there's much street photography to be had here too, with colourful locals more than happy to pose.
The souks of Marrakech are full of colour: colours that don't need to be touched up in Photoshop! The market is certainly the place for inspiration in Marrakech with a whole plethora of goods on offer from towering spices to antiques and of course tasty food. Be sure to bring a macro lens with you to capture all of the goodies close up and in detail.