This time I was asked to find and attend an event, and then live-tweet the event as it was occurring. This was my first real experience with Twitter (I had an account previously, but had never really used it). I loaded up my Twitter account and decided to attend a speech given by two-time Pulitzer prize winner David McCullough, writer of historical books such as 1776 and John Adams (the latter of which was turned into a TV mini-series by HBO).
Jumping right into a platform that I was not used to was not exactly the easiest thing to do. I think it would take a lot more practice to be good at using the platform to write stories, but I think I was able to capture some good quotes and moments from the speech. I worry about the cohesion of the story as a whole and I feel like I had a hard time making a sensible narrative in the form of tweets, which I had hoped would be easier.
I mostly tweeted direct quotes because they seemed to be the most relevant and interesting parts of the event, though I did tweet the where and the when and elaborated on the who a couple of times especially at the beginning and right before the speech. I wasn’t sure if I should continue to repeat those kinds of things throughout the event or if the earlier tweets sufficed.
The tweeting itself was also a bit more difficult then I imagined. For most of the tweets I was fine on length, though a few of them required me to rework my wording. One was so long that I had to leave out the last period. That was difficult, because as I was trying to edit on a touch screen I felt like I was missing possibly important parts of the speech itself. I also had trouble taking pictures – I tweeted one from right before the talk, but during the actual talk all my phone could pick up were glowing people on the stage because the house lights were down.
Another thing I’d change in the future is the brightness on my screens. I brought both my phone and my Kindle Fire with me, but when the lights went down I had to hastily turn down the brightness on my phone and so never pulled the Kindle out. Thinking ahead, I’d turn the brightness down beforehand next time (it saves on battery life anyway).
I did do two brief interviews, one with an usher before the event started and one with a student afterward. Tweeting these interviews was short and sweet, which I suppose is true of almost anything Twitter-related. In fact, the whole thing felt rather hectic. For most of the speech I felt like I was just frantically typing at my screen, while simultaneously trying to listen to and remember what McCullough was saying.
I’m writing a paper right now in another class about multimedia and the future reporter, and even though I don’t want to be a reporter I know there’s a good chance I’ll be using Twitter and other social media no matter what job I get in the near future. It’s important to know how to use them effectively and to send succinct, meaningful messages on these platforms, even if I only use them to advertise my own writing and work (which I have been doing via a Facebook page for several years.)
For the most part, I enjoyed the project. There were a number of difficulties that I didn’t expect, and the actual reporting was a little stressful, but I think it would be easier to do if I did it a second time. It does make me want to use Twitter more often than I have in the past.
Joshua C. Geiger