Twitter for New Journalists – Not What I Expected

digital-Journalism-schoolThis morning, I was part of a classroom session with students from the combined University of Toronto/Centennial College journalism program. I had been invited by Andy Frank to address the group with him, about the shift from traditional media to “new” media.

The most surprising thing: almost none of the students are on Twitter. I’d say it was under 10%. And based on our discussions they were much more likely to get their news from print than Andy and I are. Which makes me wonder/ponder a bunch of things:

1) These were first-year students, about 5 weeks into their post-secondary career. Would the numbers be different once the J-School profs work with them a bit, and once the students start getting more into their craft?

2) Twitter’s demographic has always been older. But I guess I was wrong to think it would nonetheless have a following at the university level. If only because Twitter is so suited (designed for, in fact) mobile devices, and since everyone older than 15 has an iPhone, I would have thought Twitter would have deeper penetration.

3) Everyone in the class was on Facebook, it seemed, but when asked what kind of journalists they were thinking of being (print, radio, TV, online), they leaned heavily toward old-school media forms. I definitely would have thought that university students in J school would be more attuned to the possibilities in the interactive space than, say, the people working in a newsroom at the major newspaper in town. Not so. While media business today is desperately seeking for a way to stay afloat in a digital space, the students implicitly seemed to frame their journalism thoughts around print, TV and radio.

4) So, am I the keener looking too far forward, with too little attention on the established forms of media? Or are university and college students insufficiently attentive to the radical shifts to the media landscape? It’s not like they’re digital virgins. They’re perfectly comfortable in the space. It just seems like the digital thinking hasn’t completely obliterated for them the traditional media forms.

To any of the students who (I hope) will follow this blog, welcome, and congratulations on looking forward. If J school grads are, in fact, slow to shift their thinking, you’ll be on the cutting edge of whatever comes up next.

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2 Responses to “Twitter for New Journalists – Not What I Expected”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RobMaurin, Toronto SEO Workshop. Toronto SEO Workshop said: Great session at UofT with @frankcasting, about new/old media. Am I wrong to be surprised how few students on Twitter? [...]

  2. Andy Frank says:

    Hey Rob, pleasure to share the dais with you, as it where, and what a fine group we had gathered there. I too am very surprised at the lack of Twitter participation or SEO knowledge, but maybe we’re just geeks, you and me, cool geeks, but geeks nonetheless. Journalists need to think more and more and entrepreneurs, perhaps a class like that might come in handy at a school like UTSC. Those who get it will do well to get their domain names, their Twit accounts, their branding, their focus, and just go for it.

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