Twitter debuted “Twitter for Newsrooms” on Monday as an online guide for journalists on how to best use the social networking site. It focuses on enhancing the quality of online content as well as the quick dissemination of that content to a wider audience.
I think this is a great idea. As long time readers of this blog know, I’ve been a fan of Twitter for years and I regularly use it to promote my own writing and as a forum for my alleged wit.
There’s no better way to keep track of breaking news stories. I’ve learned about dozens of trades through the Trending Topics feature and have often learned about other hot stories through Twitter. In fact, most of the feature stories I read I’ve discover through Twitter.
In other words, I’m really looking forward to exploring TfN.
Coincidentally, the Canadian Press had been using Twitter as a source for quotes for some time, taking the tweets of athletes (or politicians or whoever) from verified accounts to add colour to our news stories.
Recently, CP’s sports department has composed entire stories from these tweets, adding greater context to developing stories. I’ve written two of these articles.
The first was reactions from NHLers (and NBA star Steve Nash) on the pivotal Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins.
“NHLers react on Twitter to Game 6 action”
Watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final brought back some emotional memories for Bret Hedican, something the retired NHL veteran was only too happy to share with the world.
Hedican was one of several NHL players, both current and retired, took to the social networking site Twitter on Monday night to weigh in on the Boston Bruins' 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
"I've won and lost a Stanley Cup game 7!," Hedican tweeted. "I remember both like they were yesterday! Heartbreak & Elation!" (Read more…)
On Sunday we applied the same idea to the opening match of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup as Canada took on Germany.
“Soccer fans cheer on Canadian women against Germany via Twitter in World Cup”
As Christine Sinclair scored for Canada’s in its 2-1 loss to Germany at FIFA’s Women’s World Cup on Sunday, fans and players took to Twitter, often tweeting directly at the forward.
“@sincy12 That was soooo pretty! Love watching you play! Come on, 1 more!!” said Leslie Osborne, a former player with the U.S. national team and current captain of Women’s Professional Soccer’s Boston Breakers after the strike at the 82nd minute.
Despite playing most of the second half with a broken nose after taking an elbow in the face, Sinclair scored in the 82nd with a brilliant free kick to the top right corner, cutting Canada’s deficit to one and shocking the German fans. (Read more…)
I think that both articles did well to take advantage of the instant access afforded by Twitter and also allowed for more candid – if horribly written – comments from athletes who’ve been trained to clam up whenever a microphone is in front of them.
Hopefully, “Twitter for Newsrooms” helps CP and other news organizations take full advantage of social networking sites.
As I've alluded to once or twice, I used to work for the World's Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto, a part of the Chapters-Indigo chain.
About the same time I moved on to being a professional writer many of my coworkers at the WBB also moved on to bigger and better things, including my manager Justin Sorbara-Hosker, who now works for Indigo's online department.
A couple of weeks ago Justin and the staff at Simon and Schuster were kind enough to forward me a copy of Shawn Green's new book "The Way of Baseball" which I reviewed for Indigo's blog.
Below is my introduction, followed by a link to the rest of the article.
Shawn Green's The Way of Baseball has a concept so simple it's amazing no one has done it before—it uses hitting a baseball as an evolving metaphor that can be applied to everyday life.
Green draws on his career as a right-fielder with the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets and examines how he used batting practice as a method of finding peace and balance in his day-to-day life.
The book is broken into nine chapters titled “Stillness,” “Space and Separation,” “Awareness,” “Ego,” “Presence,” “The Zone,” “Nonattachment,” “Gratitude,” and “Epilogue”. Each section details a step in Green’s personal journey as he develops stillness and awareness at the plate and in his interactions with teammates, coaches and fans.
As you can see, I haven’t posted on this blog since – yikes – the middle of April.
Where has all my writing energy gone? To the Canadian Press, of course.
In early March I was taken off the junior hockey beat and bumped up to a reporter-editor on the sports desk. Since then, I’ve been working between three and six shifts a week covering anything that comes across my desk, sometimes on day shifts and sometimes at night.
There are four “spots” on the sports desk that a reporter-editor fills.
Broadcast news – Broadcast News was a separate company that for years provided television and radio stations with copy for announcers to read. The Canadian Press bought BN and eventually merged it into its main news wire service. The BN desk is still responsible for writing and editing copy primarily for our broadcast wire and taking care of audio-visual material.
This means turning around audio clips for TV and radio stations and writing what we call sportsbreaks and minutes.
You’ll hear this copy on the radio, typically on a non-sports station. Consider a classic rock station. If the DJ isn’t a big sports fan, or is too busy managing the songs on the station, they just use our sportsbreak to run down the latest sports news every hour or so. The writing is simple, brief and designed to be easily read by those unfamiliar with the pronunciation of athletes names.
For example, recent NBA playoff MVP Dirk Nowitzki would be written as “recent N-B-A playoff M-V-P Dirk Nowitzki (noh-VIHT'-skee)”.
Second chair – On the sports desk the second chair has a lot of names. “Second chair”, “second editor”, “little chair”. Generally, this editor is responsible for Canadianizing copy from the Associated Press by highlighting the accomplishments of Canadian athletes (“Toronto’s Joey Votto”) and fixing words to their Canadian spelling (dueled becomes duelled, among countless other changes).
The second chair might also write fresh copy, from box score, press release or phone interview. Most often, it’s a combination of all three. However, all that is at the discretion of the slotperson.
Slotperson – The slot is the person in charge of the desk. They dish out assignments and are the final arbiter of what is or isn’t newsworthy. The morning slotperson is the first to arrive and the evening slot is the last to leave at – God help them – 3 a.m. I haven’t had many of these shifts since I’m pretty new to the desk, but it does happen.
The slotperson does everything the second chair does, only more of it and is expected to take responsibility for the biggest story of the day, whatever it may be.
General assignment – On occasion senior reporter-editors are put on general assignment so they can pursue feature stories or develop their beat. For example, our Canadian Football League writer Dan Ralph has been preparing for the upcoming season and hockey writer Chris Johnston has been getting ready for the NHL draft. I’m not yet senior enough to do GA, but I still thought I’d mention this desk task.
All this adds up to me being a very busy guy. I’ve gone stretches with 12 shifts in 13 days.
Unfortunately, as much as I love writing, reading and editing, it’s hard to get jazzed about it when you’ve already done it for seven hours that day.
In any event, now that I’m becoming more comfortable on the desk I’ll be coming back here a lot more. I’ve got some book reviews coming up for Chapters-Indigo that I’ll cross-post here as well as some pieces specifically for this blog as well as some work for my friends over at HockeyPrimeTime.com.