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To Tweet or Not to Tweet

That is the question.

It may not be as poetic or eternal as Shakespeare’s version, but it does hold quite the meaning for today’s journalists.

Is this Twitter thing here to stay? Is it an effective contributor to the media world? Will I benefit from participating in this microblogging phenomenon?

Yes, yes, and yes.  If you aren’t already on Twitter, make your account now. Even if Twitter doesn’t survive, another form of microblogging is likely to take its place, so you might as well get acquainted with it.  At least that’s what Mark Briggs, author of Journalism Next and Journalism 2.0, preaches.

Photo courtesy of journalism20.com

As a visitor to the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, Briggs spoke to hundreds of journalism students and professors about the future of journalism.  Unlike many traditionalist journalists who think the field has taken a turn for the worst, Briggs sees a bright path ahead.  As long as we are willing to do the leg work.

Briggs emphasizes that we are the future of journalism.  You, me, and ever other aspiring journalist.  Not the current or future technology.  It is up to us to decide where journalism goes.

And if you’ve made that Twitter account, you’ve taken the first step towards influencing the future of journalism. It is a powerful media tool that, if used correctly, can influence millions of people.

As Briggs put it, Twitter is what you make of it.  While some people use it for social purposes, the major Tweet geeks have found more professional and productive uses for their 140 character entries. Whether it be a news article, video, or piece of your own work, Twitter allows its users to share information with the rest of the microblogging world.

If you don’t know what to say, then just listen and learn.  If you follow the right crowd then Tweets can actually add to your education.  The more you read, the more you learn.

If you are worried about privacy, do not fear – you can make your profile private so that only those you give approval to can read your entries.  Doing this keeps you from contributing to the whole sphere, though, so I strongly encourage you to leave it public.

Still skeptical? Start small. Just log on and search a subject that interests you. You might be surprised at what you find.  (Or if you just want an example, check out my Twitter feed on the right of this page.)

Microblogging is just a small piece of the future of journalism.  But it is a step in the right direction.  Who knows where it might lead you.

Take it and run with it.  Find your niche. “Make a dent in the universe” like Briggs hopes you will.

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