Jul 27, 2010


Before 2006, the # sign would have been known as simply the “pound” or “number” sign, and not as a “hashtag” leading to a TT (trending topic). Before Twitter, RT would have been two random letters thrown together or possibly someone’s initials and not “ReTweet.” Putting an “@” symbol in front of a person’s name would have been, well, a little confusing before the likes of Twitter and Facebook made it synonymous with addressing someone, either a friend on Facebook or a follower on Twitter.

During the 35th annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention, journalists young and old will be making their way to workshops and various events. Many of these journos will be armed with their laptops and cellphones, screens cued to @NABJ, the association’s Twitter account.

A recent Poynter Institute article by Mallary Jean Tenore “Experimenting with Twitter,” explores how writers at newspapers such as The New York Times, post headlines and links to their stories.
NABJ conference attendees can do the same. Many of the presenters also have Twitter accounts such as MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) and musician N’Dambi (@Ndambi) who is scheduled to perform Wednesday night.

Twitterers have only 140 characters per “tweet” to say whatever they want. For example, the previous sentence was exactly 60 characters, so it would be acceptable as a tweet.
Anyone who is unsure how Twitter can be beneficial should take Jarrett Carter’s approach to using Twitter to promote (@HBCUDigest) and The Center for Media Advocacy, Inc. (@HBCUMedia), of which he is the founder of both.

“I thought it would be a good way to reach a lot of different audiences at one time with one message,” he says. “It forces you to get to the point and get there fast. It’s a benefit when you have to constrain yourself to a brief but meaningful message. You get to the heart of what you have to say.”

Since no one can be in two places at once, tweets from one session can be read by those who are simultaneously in another session, or even by those who were not fortunate enough to attend the conference. It is an exchange of information at its best, in 140 characters or less.

“People are sharing or telling (reporting) all kinds of stories,” says Twana Coleman, an aspiring broadcast journalist and junior at LeMoyne Owen College in Memphis, Tenn. Coleman. “A journalist could find several principles of journalism such as: human interest, conflict, prominence or events in close proximity.”

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