Tag Archives: tweets

Twitter. Does your boss check you out?!

1 Apr

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

I went for an interview yesterday, for a work-experience placement at ITV. I was up to date with current affairs, the political situation in Libya and I had been watching ITV news all week. Enough, maybe, but I definitely would have prepared even more if I’d thought about the concept of my interviewer following me on Twitter?! One thing I hadn’t given any thought to was the state of my Twitter page. My profile, what does it say about me? Well I’ll tell you. The picture I have is of me lying on a bed in Beijing, waiting for a foot message. (From my traveling days.) There is nothing rude or inappropriate about the photo, just perhaps not the most professional photo I could have chosen. Also, I have a relatively low number of tweets (for a trainee journalist I suppose)…20 tweets to be precise. I am following 170 and am followed by 57….hardly 497,085 but a good start?!

Damn you Piers Morgan!

Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt sightly self conscious about any of my tweets, even though I don’t think I have ever ‘tweeted’ anything particularly offensive and/or controversial!  Quite the opposite in fact. In my opinion I use social media for what I believe to be all the right reasons. Journalistically I follow others who are in the know, I absorb the news feeds, I keep up to date with all the latest developments in current affairs and most importantly (in my view) I am able to find information and people, that I wouldn’t be able to, anywhere else. A good example of this was a recent package I produced for local TV station a month ago. For confidentiality reasons I won’t reveal the participants name, but he essentially gave me a lot of helpful and perhaps controversial pieces of information all through Twitter. What I am trying to say here is; just because I don’t use Twitter to report about my every moment, my every outing, my every meal (who would be interested anyway?) That doesn’t mean I am any less interested in social media. Perhaps I should tweet more. Perhaps I should spark up a debate with Lord Sugar…that should up my followers if nothing else!

Throughout all of my blogs, I have discussed the importance of social media in online journalism, AND, (you’ll be pleased to hear) I remain committed. I don’t see papers as ‘old news’ (excuse the pun) and I don’t want everyone to replace newspapers with twitter but what I do think is we have developed an amazing platform on which to transport information….to the world!

A website I visit regularly is www.mediahelpingmedia.com stresses the importance of social media in online journalism. One bit of advice I picked up on recently was the following statement.

‘Try to offer original, stimulating and compelling content’

Watch out for my new and improved tweets..!

Also, I got the placement, so either I managed to impress at interview, or perhaps he hadn’t seen my Twitter page ; )

Linguistic Chinese whispers – the dangers of cross-national news sharing on social media

4 Feb

Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

“If you’ve ever played ‘Chinese whispers’, what comes out the end is usually gibberish, and more or less when we speak to each other we’re playing this massive game of Chinese whispers”.

This is evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel’s summary of informative change – a phenomenon that affects conversational syntax and lexicology between speakers of different mother tongues.

The process of lexical morphology – en vrac the sharing of information – is being constantly sped up by the modern-day ease in which people from all corners of the Earth interact with each other. The main vessels that have facilitated this over the last decade all come under one collective name – social media.

In terms of journalism, then, this can prove extremely hazardous. 85% of read and reported news in the UK comes from abroad, and popular knowledge of news and current affairs is often spread by word of mouth (well, more appropriately ‘word of keyboard’ in this case!) between ordinary members of the public. And given that over 70% of Britons under the age of 25 have at least one account on a social media site, there is an enormous amount of news-related cyber gossip going on – a transfer of information that has increased 30-fold since the year 2000.

Lots of Facebook, MySpace and Bebo users have, in these days of easy travel, media globalisation and multiculturalism accumulated swathes of friends and contacts abroad. The inhabitants of all the politically free countries of the world are permitted to access each others news sources and media agency websites. This leads people to interpret news stories in other languages, which naturally has a tendecy to lead to fundamental errors in perception.

The problem with English being such a globally important language is that most of the world tries to read, listen and watch Anglophone publications and broadcasts. If a certain key fact or sentence is misunderstood, then the wrong information can spread indefinitely as the topic is discussed with others.

One ideal example is found in a Facebook message sent to me by a friend in France. On hearing the news of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement from a BBC emission, my friend’s somewhat limited English led her to believe that the couple had in fact got married, apparently in secret without anyone finding out! It is easy to imagine the confusion that might arise amongst her other Facebook contacts if she had then ‘published’ her error without being corrected.

The global rise of Twitter (which is yet to claim the social network crown from Facebook but has done a seriously good job of clawing its way up from the depths of cyber obscurity over the last 18 months), is a playing field that only accentuates the dangers of linguistic misinterpretation. The extreme informality of publishing your thoughts and a clear emphasis on news (as opposed to Facebook’s greater range of features) means that Twitter is a danger-zone potentially rife with inaccuracy. People read alien languages, they misunderstand, they perceive incorrectly, and they tweet their response. This is a danger not only for unrelated tongues, but also for the mutually intelligible. Speakers of Spanish notoriously misinterpret Portuguese, lulled into a sense of security by the two languages’ similarity and unaware of the prominence of ‘false friends’ – words or phrases that appear very similar but actually have a completely different meaning.

In short, linguistic Chinese whispers are impossible to moniter or control in the online environment. The only thing that assures that popular error doesn’t become widespread journalistic disaster is the enormous number of news sources and the benefits of modern globalisation – any newsworthy piece of information that happens anywhere on the Planet can be instantly exported (and translated) for any audience.