Twitter as a news tool

Your assignment for using Twitter as a news tool is to cover an event and post at least five tweets. The ideal would be to go somewhere and use your cellphone. Depending on your model, you could even post pictures to your Twitter feed using TwitPic or a similar service. But you can also do something like watch a basketball game or “American Idol” on television and offer some running commentary via Twitter. Do it during the event, not after.

Once you are done, write up a brief blog post describing the event, what you were hoping to accomplish and what you see as the positives and negatives of covering a story via Twitter. You also need to use your blog post to link to your Twitter account, since otherwise I won’t know how to find you.

We agreed that posting links is too difficult with a cellphone. Nevertheless, you should bookmark Bit.ly, the leading link-shortener, for future reference.

If you are completely puzzled by the idea of covering an event via Twitter, I thought I would link to a few of the tweets I posted on the evening of Dec. 8, when I was at Martha Coakley’s headquarters following her victory in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. During the campaign, the hashtag #masen became universally known as the best way to tag your tweets so that other people interested in the race could find them. As you’ll see, some of these tweets include photos. A random sample:

I make no great claims for what I wrote that night on Twitter. Mainly I was just passing the time while gathering material for my Guardian column. But I think they’re a fair example of what a reporter can do with Twitter at the scene of an event.

Deadline alert! I had set the deadline for Friday at 5 p.m., and received several requests to extend it so that you may cover events on Friday or Saturday night. That’s fine — the deadline is now Sunday at 5 p.m. But keep in mind that you still must post on your final-project proposal by Monday at 10 a.m. And I want everyone to come in with at least one idea of a place every newcomer to Northeastern should know about so that we can firm up our map project during Monday’s class.

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