As part two of our Twitter lesson, we were asked to cover an event via Twitter. I chose to document my celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on Boylston Street in Boston last night, and sent a number of tweets about my experience.
I left campus after class at around 8:30 pm, met up with friends and began the walk to Boylston from Northeastern’s campus. On the way I noticed the Prudential Center lit up in green for the holiday and snapped a quick photo. Upon arrival at Pour House I realized just how chaotic the scene actually was, and decided to take a picture of all the people wearing green lined up outside trying to get into the bars. After about a 15 minute wait, we finally made it into the Pour House, where we somehow managed to snag a table in the back room. I decided to order a Magners and homemade mac & cheese for dinner, which I also documented with a photo. All my friends were drinking green beer, but I decided to skip the food coloring. In retrospect, I probably should have snagged a picture of that too! The front area of the bar was pretty full and there were people waiting in line to get downstairs but the back room where we were sitting wasn’t too packed. Other friends managed to brave the lines to get into the bar and meet us, but another friend reported that she was unsure she would get in because the line outside was so long, so I decided to share that fact as well. At about midnight I decided to call it a night and catch the bus home – after all, I had to be at work bright & early the next morning.
As somebody who has been using Twitter for a while, I don’t usually send more than one or two tweets about a single event. In my coverage, I was just hoping to report what I was seeing since I knew lots of people were probably curious as to what the bar scene, specifically Boylston Street, looked like last night.
One huge benefit of covering a story on Twitter is how quickly updates & pictures are sent and received. Using Uber Twitter on my Blackberry is incredibly easy – all I need to do is open the application, snap a picture, type a few words and click send. The updates can then be received immediately – if I had Twitter friends who were on Boylston Street looking to get into the bars, they were able to read my posts about how long the lines were and head elsewhere instead.
One of the negatives of covering an event solely via Twitter is the limited character count. When you have lots to report on, you end up posting seven or eight tweets at a time, which can sometimes be obnoxious to your followers. I felt kind of silly posting numerous updates about my night, and wondered how many people were rolling their eyes at my tweets. Regardless, I had a good time and was glad I got to share it with the Twitter world!
For class this week, we’re doing a unit on Twitter, and have been assigned to find and follow 10 twitter users related to our blog beat. Although I’ve been on twitter for quite some time, I realized in beginning this assignment that I don’t follow very many people or organizations that are fashion related.
In searching Listorious for “fashion” and “boston fashion” I stumbled across a list of Boston Fashion Bloggers put together by twitter user DameVintage. Lists on twitter are simple – they allow users to organize the people they follow into categories. For example, I have a “news” list, a “northeastern” list and now, a newly created “fashion” list.
I’ve chosen to follow a variety of fashion-related twitters.
I found Sarah McManus, aka BostonStylista, who was once assistant fashion editor for Boston Magazine and has since opened her own style consultation business. McManus tweets about a variety of things – she promotes her anyweargirl.com blog posts, tweets with other stylistas, including RobertVerdi, about their favorite spring trends, and retweets other interesting blog posts she comes across.
I discovered Kara thebostonista, who writes the fashion blog thebostonista.com. Kara is great to follow – her twitter is much more personal, and she makes comments and asks questions in addition to plugging her blog posts.
I’ve also chosen to follow cutblog, the fashion blog for New York Magazine. While cutblog mostly tweets about blog posts on their own site, they also engage in some conversation and will occasionally retweet. My favorite is the retweet of this great twitpic, posted originally twitter user fashionrat, of gingerbread men wearing outfits from Lady Gaga’s Telephone music video. The image later made it into a Huffington Post update!
After writing my post about oohilove, I’ve been following them on twitter. I had also been following GlobeFashion and nytimesfashion, but both simply post links to articles on their sites instead of engaging in any conversation, which isn’t very exciting.
As part of our Reinventing class, we are required to do a presentation on any website we use and/or read regularly and would be interesting to share with the class. I chose to do my presentation on BostonTweet, run by a local man named Tom O’Keefe. O’Keefe posts constant updates about what’s going on in Boston. He often takes advantage of the TwitPic & TwitVid sites that allow users to post video and picture directly from their phones or computers.
The site truly epitomizes the beauty of social networking. Anything you want to know about things going on in Boston – restaurant openings, bar specials, schools being closed for snow days – is up on his feed. Lots of times, twitter users will “@” him to ask questions, many times he’ll respond. He creates “conversations” asking users what their ideas are – today’s conversation revolves around things to do on a rainy day. He can do this by using an entirely different website, BostonTweet.com, which automatically uploads everyone who “@”s him.
Another great feature of O’Keefe’s site is that he has created lists of Boston news, bars & restaurants, and music that you can follow as well – these allow you to find even more information posted to the numerous feeds O’Keefe has found directly related to Boston.
If you’re a twitter user I’d definitely recommend following him!
Ms. Miller touched on a number of interesting points in speaking about a relatively new campaign WBZ-TV has created. While many locals may be well aware of this concept, I am not a TV or radio news consumer while in Boston, so the campaign was news to my ears.
The campaign, which began a year and a half ago, is titled “Declare Your Curiosity,” and asks viewers and listeners to go onto the show’s website and tell producers and news anchors exactly what they would like to hear. Viewers have the opportunity to share ideas, questions or issues they find interesting with the show. All of their answers are compiled in a database which Ms. Miller and other CBS executives have access to. There, they can contact contributers directly to pursue story lines.
In speaking about this idea, Ms. Miller focused on the idea that as journalists, we need to be developing a community and relationships within that community. Part of that relationship is understanding what the community wants. While journalists are often expert story tellers, they don’t often realize that local news need to reflect the issues and concerns of the community. So the question, in realizing this, is how do you figure out what that is?
In a traditional sense, says Ms. Miller, you read the Globe, think something is fascinating and go out and ask more questions. This new Declare your Curiosity campaign allows readers to go directly to a news outlet to declare what they want to watch on their nightly news.
This concept falls away from crowd-sourcing in that CBS is not putting the job of a journalist in the hands of a citizen. Instead, they are relying on citizens to find interesting stories and come to WBZTV, where they can do the proper job of a journalist.
Thus far, the program has had just over 6,000 users submit almost 10,000 curiosities – pretty impressive.
I think this idea is fascinating, and is without a doubt the future of journalism. Today, investigative reporters rely on tips and chance, bumping into stories and people who may just happen to bring us a great front page story. The reality is, journalists are such a small population of the world. Those who aren’t spending their lives digging for dirt are often the ones who have the best dirt right in front of them.
A great example of that was a story Ms. Miller discussed during her time with us on Wednesday. A truck driver submitted a curiosity about low hanging telephone wires. What developed was a short investigative article about the laws of hanging telephone wires in Massachusetts.
Be sure watch the advertisement for the campaign – maybe you can even submit your own curiosity.