Twitter and its role in video journalism

Happy Birthday Twitter! It’s five years to the day since the site was born into the cyber world.

Despite having over 200 million users (compared to 400 million for Facebook), many people are still sceptical about the use, relevance and importance of Twitter.

I openly admit that I was a critic until a few months ago but now I find it a very useful journalistic tool.

So, in celebration of our 160-character friend’s fifth birthday, here are five ways in which Twitter can enhance a video journalist’s work…

1. Posting your own videos

Twitvid/Tweetmojo/Twitvideo. There are plenty of sites to choose from for sharing video via Twitter. It’s a quick and easy way to integrate a video into your tweet.

2. Storyfinding

This has perhaps been the most useful one for me so far. Obviously, this is not specific to video journalism, but it certainly offers a direct route to stories that haven’t been tapped into by the print media. Here’s a report that I filmed, having found the story though a twitter feed…

3. Directing web traffic to your site or channel.

Whether it be a personal website, a Vimeo channel or a Youtube account, Twitter is the ultimate tool when it comes to signposting people to your work. I recently set up my own website, put it out on a tweet and immediately got feedback and comments on the videos that I have made.

4. Creating a community.

In a recent interview that I did with David Dunkley-Gyimah, he told me that one of the great advantages of online video journalism is that it offers the chance to build a community around the stories that you produce. Rather than covering a story and then dropping and moving on to the next topic as tends to happen in the traditional broadcasting mould, the internet offers a platform for people to carry on discussing and contributing to a story/theme, long after it has been ‘aired’. And Twitter, is just one of many tools that you can use to harness this community, through the use of hashtags, etc.

There are numerous examples of this. Channel 4 has been doing this recently with great success. Take, for instance, tonight’s Dispatches. The programme was called ‘Train Journeys from Hell’. Whilst it was on air, they flashed up the hashtag ‘TrainPain’ and that got thousands of people involved. The programme aired at 8pm and by 9pm it was the top trending hashtag in the UK.

5. Live streaming

You can use sites such as Twitcam to link to live streams.

This is particularly good if you want to broadcast from a phone, webcam or something portable. If you’re shooting some great actuality or just want to put out an interview live and you want people to see it, this is the best way to get it seen at that very moment. The immediacy of Twitter is unparalleled.

Still not convinced? Then take a look at these Twitter stats from Business Zone

  • A year ago, people sent 50 million tweets a day. The average now is 140 million and on March 11, 2011, the tally was 177 million!
  • 572,000 new accounts were created on March 12, 2011; 460,000 new accounts were created daily, on average, in the past month!
  • Mobile users increased 182% in the past year!
  • 8 people worked at Twitter in January 2008. Today it’s 400!

Will Teddy

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