Twitter classes for aspiring journalists

A new course will teach media students how to break news via social networking sites, reports Jon Marcus in Chicago

September 5, 2009

Students will learn to give readers the news in 140 characters or fewer in a new graduate journalism course at DePaul University’s College of Communications in Chicago.

The course, “Digital Editing: From Breaking News to Tweets”, will train prospective journalists in the use of Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

Although such sites have become integral tools of journalism, present-day journalists “are ingrained in the old ways of doing things”, and don’t know how to use them to best effect, said Craig Kanalley, the DePaul alumnus who will teach the class.

While many people purport to write about the news on social networking sites, Mr Kanalley, who is also the founder of popular world news site Breaking Tweets, said: “There’s a lot of garbage out there and it clutters Twitter streams and it’s all over the place. So part of this class is finding relevant Tweets and swimming through all the clutter.”

Students – 13 are enrolled – will be taught basic software coding and will learn how to separate reliable and unreliable content. “It’s important that we hold on to all the principles of journalism,” Mr Kanalley said.

Bruce Evensen, director of DePaul’s MA in journalism programme, said that although some traditionalists decry the truncated nature of news provided in a Twitter posting or a mobile phone text, it was “eyewitness reporting”.

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