Social networking has caused a dramatic leap in the society and the way people communicate, connect, and perceive reality. New media of communication is steadily drawing tremendous amount of people to sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Users enjoy great benefits of the free, convenient, instantaneous and borderless interaction and practice the skills of the 21st century at the same time.
Along with the increasing popularity, social networking sites have ignited debate about their positive and negative effects. For instance, many scholars, teachers, and journalists argue that online media threaten journalism and writing, in general. John Dickerson calms down this hot debate in the essay “Don’t Fear Twitter.” He argues, despite the 140-character limitation, Twitter has created value for its users. While some critics label Tweeter entries as “micro journalism” and “texting”, the media do have a positive effect on journalism. Twitter “adds, rather than distracts from, what we do,” the author stresses (Dickerson 175). John Dickerson writes an excellent essay that drives an example of Twitter to convey the benefits and usefulness of social media.
In the essay “Don’t Fear Twitter,” the theme revolves around Twitter and its critics who refuse to refer to it as journalism. John Dickers claims that Tweeter journalism can benefit both writers and readers. Primarily, Tweeter can be used as a rough copy of the original article. According to Dickers, it is a perfect place for all the asides which are usually scribbled in numerous notebooks (175). Tweeter journalism gives a way to such snippets full of sideways thoughts and inconsequential ideas. Therefore, social media can benefit journalists who can purify their pieces of writing by putting short entries on the site rather than in the final article.
Twitter also fosters building a community of readers with shared interests and values. Twitter entries provide a snapshot in conveying information, which can “take people the places they can’t go” (Dickers 175). Step by step news entries can show readers what the reporting is like, and, hence, engage them in the atmosphere of journalism (Dickers 176). Moreover, Tweeter gives readers an opportunity to convey information and create the news themselves. Dickers gives an example of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 and how short Tweeter entries could have been helpful in covering that tragic event (176).
Finally, Tweeter can facilitate the readers perceptions by directing them to the original articles and suggesting what may be of interest for them (Dickers 176). However, Twitter can benefit only to those who engage in the other ways of learning information, Dickers remarks (176). People who are nonetheless uninterested in the news are likely to stay out of the broader media audience.
The claim of value made by Dickerson is confirmed in the essays by Steve Grove, Dan Kennedy, and Josh Keller. Despite differences in focus and concessions they make to counterarguments, all the essays emphasize that social media have positive effects. For instance, Steve Grove provides an elaborate analysis of YouTube to support Dickerson’s idea that online media can facilitate traditional journalism. He says, “YouTube’s news ecosystem has the potential to offer more to a traditional media outlet” (Grove 178). He stresses that social media can address the audience better due to their interactivity and partnership with audience (Grove 178). Therefore, the high level of audience engagement in social platforms like YouTube can be exploited by mainstream media in terms of the possibility to reach a broader audience and help readers locate their Websites for a closer look on the content.
Grove also acknowledges citizen journalism to be a great benefit of social media. He notes that political blobs can be used by journalists so as to locate the material for their stories (Grove 179). Furthermore, citizen journalism on social media is a powerful platform to create general awareness, which can function even despite the absence of traditional media outlets (Grove 179).
Dan Kennedy addresses the value of political blogs in terms of their interaction with the audience. He claims that critics of blogs “overlook the sense of community and conversation that blogs have fostered around the news” (174). He compares political blogs and traditional media and comes to the conclusion that the former outweigh magazines and newspapers in the approach to the target audience. Thus, Kennedy stresses that political blogs cater for the audience better than most of the traditional media. With the decline of an old-fashioned community consisting of generally old, educated and socially active readers, political blogs give impulse to forming new communities with shared ideas and attitudes which can be communicated without borders (Kennedy 174).
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The author insists, today’s community wants the media to acknowledge their framework of ideas (Kennedy 172). The “journalism based on communities with shared interests and beliefs” which, though, has respect for the truth is what the reader is looking for today (Kennedy 173). Furthermore, political blogs are interactive media while they give readers “someone to sit with” (Kennedy 174). Thus, it appears that social media is better adapted to the change in readers’ attitudes and lifestyles and managed to create a sense of the community so as to better address the needs of the audience, as compared to the traditional media (Kennedy 174).
Keller’s work has many converging pieces of evidence supporting the claim of value made in the essay “Don’t Fear Twitter.” Thus, Keller analyzes the results of the Stanford Study of Writing and uses voices of scholars to confirm the value of new media. He states that social media “have led to an explosion of digital writing” (Keller 159-60). Many scholars’ views confirm that new technologies have influence on the students’ writing and reading skills (Keller 160). Namely, Paul M Rogers (an assistant professor of English at George Mason University) claims, “students routinely learn the basics of writing concepts wherever they write the most” (Keller 162). Thus, while students compose message mostly in the social networking sites, they subconsciously pick up the writing habits of the peers. Additionally, writing in social media is “sort of critical to accelerating their [students’] growth as writers” (Keller 162). Even though there is little if any progress in students’ academic writing and reading scores, digital writing teaches people to practice social skills and address a general audience. Keller cites the study at George Mason University to confirm that digital writing is increasingly engaging while it is related with sustaining social networks (161-62). In such a way, the sense of community which is present in social media draws students to digital writing and has influence on their literacy.
The essay “Don’t Fear Tweeter” by Dickerson outlines the major benefits of Tweeter for journalists, readers, and a broader community. Despite much criticism of social media, the author is enthusiastic about the potential of Tweeter journalism. He writes about Tweeter as a supplement to the mainstream journalism which can facilitate the writing process, increase visibility of the original articles, and build a sense of community. Even though Tweeter is a very powerful tool in journalism, it can be used to convey some pieces of news, filter ideas and sideways thoughts, help the readers to locate the original articles. Most importantly, however, well written Tweeter entries reinforce a sense of community by exposing readers to the world of journalism and engaging them in the process of creating the news.