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Twitter for the masses


Journalists today hail Twitter as being an effective way to reach out to a public which is losing interest in newspapers. It’s what all the cool kids are doing – so why not jump in and try to reach them, right?

I certainly can’t speak for everyone's use of Twitter, but I know my peers at the University of Kansas. Sitting in Italian class the other day, I noticed a girl’s phone going off every few seconds. After class I found out that she was receiving Twitter updates from Kate Gosselin, Angelina Jolie, Mariah Carey, Dane Cook, and Ashton Kutcher. Needless to say, no news here.

But Kutcher has 3.5 million Twitter followers. Unfortunately, a recent study found that 40 percent of the Twitter messages are “pointless babble," 35 percent of all tweets are "conversational," and only 3.6 percent can be considered "news."

So perhaps media bigwigs are putting too much stake in Twitter. Sure, it can be a means to spread news, to learn about the Iranian election and the plane crash in the Hudson River, but from what I’ve heard around campus, I suspect that for most of those who tweet, it’s just another form of entertainment.

Twitter or no Twitter, some people will be just as clueless about the war in Iraq as they were when they didn’t read newspapers.


mrsteffen 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree that just because we have access to a plethora of news information doesn't mean that we are all consuming it. Some people would rather read tweet after tweet about gossip than read one legitimate news story. At 26 I'm a bit older than the average KU student but I still have not quite caught the Twitter bug, too many stunted conversations and hash tags for my aging brain to process.

dlowell 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm just playing devil's advocate here, but who's to say that what Kate Gosselin has to say isn't news? It certainly is for a large section of the American public. It might not be hard news on tough issues, but some of that is still a kind of journalism. Also, there are more than six million tweets every day. That means the 3.6 percent of them that are news amounts to more than 200,000 news-content tweets. That's a whole heck of a lot. The audience for Twitter is somewhere above the six million mark as well, giving a substantial incentive for news organizations to try and use the service to reach out to a demographic that is being lured away from traditional media.

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