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February 15, 2008

How important is Twitter for student journalists?

By Dave Lee STD

I wrote on Wednesday about how using Dreamweaver is not, in my opinion, what online journalism students should be taught.

Andy Dickinson adds his thoughts in the comments, which you can read here.

It begs the question of, if we’re not to use Dreamweaver, what tools we should be using. Which is why I’d like to draw this interesting entry from Paul Bradshaw to your attention. He asked his students to use Twitter to log what they’re all up to — but he wasn’t happy with the results. He writes:

If you think 19- and 20-year-olds are au fait with Twitter, think again. Only one had used it before starting the class. And even afterwards, the journalism students I was teaching hardly hit the ground running.

In fact, in the ten days since my class, around half have not twittered at all.

Does this surprise me? Not even slightly. The same thing would happen if tried some of my classmates. I’m not even sure if I would keep a Twitter feed going. Indeed, I didn’t. I can’t seem to grasp its importance (although, admittedly, using it to announce I’m going to the pub perhaps isn’t the best use for the service).

I wonder if Paul asked his students whether they all change their Facebook status on a daily basis what answer he’d get.

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The sole reason I don’t use Twitter is because I update people with what I’m thinking often enough through Facebook, my blog, this blog, my mobile… loads of things.

Am I missing a trick here? Should I be twittering my thoughts away? I’m really not sold. If someone can convince me otherwise, I’m willing to give it a whirl next week — it’s deadline week for our student newspaper, so will have lots to talk about.

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