This week, we at The Evening Sun took part in an AP Webinar called “Social Media in the Newsroom: Break News Better and Faster.” The purpose of this webinar was to teach us how to utilize the vast and ever-expanding breadth of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
It was very informative and really got me thinking about how I use these outlets now as opposed to just one year ago, or even a few years. Personally, I have never been paticularly tech-savvy when it comes to computers, phones, or game consoles. However, my original instinct to stay away from the wide world of social media had much more to do with how it’s used as opposed to whether or not I can even use it.
The thing that always bugged me about Twitter especially was its seeming lack of purpose. A tool designed to answer one question: what are you doing? At first I could hardly believe that someone would invent such a thing, let alone that people would subscribe to this nonsense.
I mean, why would anyone take the time to stop what their doing just to notify people as to what they’re doing.
“Bob is watching TV!” (Sorry, Bob, don’t care.)
“Susan can’t find her left shoe!” (Well, Susan, I guarantee it is not in the phone.)
“Freddy was cleaning the gutters and fell of his ladder. Does anyone know the number to 911?” (Maybe Freddy should focus on the bone sticking out of his leg instead of letting his buds know.)
As a result of my quick-to-dismiss attitude, it was many years before I had an account of my own and, although I still couldn’t care less about a minute by minute breakdown of your day as you’re doing it, I do feel I’ve missed out on some opportunities.
First and foremost is my natural curiosity. I may not want to know how many towels Larry folded today, but when he sights a bear behind his house on Mechanic Street, I want to know the second it happens. I want pictures in case I’m too far away. I want my phone to sync up with Twitter and give me directions to Larry’s house. And by golly gee whiz if my phone didn’t do just that.
Now I’m in the tree with Larry, staring down at this half-ton behemoth of a creature taking pictures of my own that I can e-mail to my editor. Now I can get some video and upload it right onto YouTube. Now I can Tweet my own feelings about this furry beast who seems to be getting hungrier, and all of my faithful readers will know me as a real person with emotions and not just a story-writing robot.
All of this is now possible, which turns me and my phone into a walking, talking news provider. I have all of the tools to keep people informed, which is why I wanted this job in the first place.
It just goes to show you, if you close your mind to new technology just because at first glance it seems ridiculous or pointless, you can miss out on some great opportunities. So keep an open mind and keep your phone tuned in.
Yes Larry, I’m scared too, but there are some things people just don’t want to know.
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunjulian.