Twitter Is a Great Newspaper Substitute

I used to consider myself slightly old school for my generation in that up until recently, I never had any “new” technology that all my friends had, because I opted to be the cheap one. While quite a few of my friends pre-ordered the iPhone 5, I was happy with my little slide-out Samsung with my $25 basic plan. First semester I also printed out all of my online readings–being in Gender Studies and Sociology, there are a lot of them–as opposed to reading them on my computer because I was convinced that I needed a concrete piece of material in front of me and that highlighter scribbles were easier to internalize.

Too bad I tend to go all out in everything that I do, because 75% of all my readings are marked the hell up in fluorescent pink. So second semester, I switched gears. I found myself having less free time so I would begin to multi-task and get ready to go out while doing my readings. Turns out it’s easier than I thought to blow-dry my hair and read on my laptop. I also realized that I didn’t feel so much stress doing the reading because I was focused solely on absorbing the material as opposed to focusing partially on what I had to highlight. Who knew?

I used to like the idea of being able to physically interact and engage with the material and turn it into my own, and then I discovered the wonderful world of online literature, and it isn’t as daunting as I once made it out to be. Another change in the new year for me was the way in which I got my news. I never read too many newspapers but sometime last year I found myself so interested by some of the articles my friends would post on Facebook, and it was then that I decided to try out Twitter. Part of that was attempting to build more of an online presence in order to promote my personal blog and brand myself, but once I got into it I began to realize that certain tweets tended to be posted during specific times of the day. For instance, I would get up really early and see that a lot of the newspapers I followed were posting the top news of the morning, and there tended to be more interesting blog posts from my favorite websites during the span of the workday.

My roommate is in media studies and she knows her way around these social media platforms like the back of her hand. She kind of filled me in on possible reasons for this, such as these companies wanting to keep people interested and invested. A key part of this is entertaining people while they are at work. People want to wake up in the morning and have something interesting to read over breakfast, in bed waking up, or on their commute to work. They also want something to read during their work breaks and lunches, as well as their commutes home. But each of these different time frames requires different kind of content.

Same for the weekend. Popular, successful websites do take into account how much people will be reading and what, depending on their busy lives, and this is definitely evidenced from the kinds of posts people make on Twitter to represent their brands. Ever notice how more websites are tweeting about fun local events on a Saturday as opposed to more serious topics? I’m still in the midst of figuring Twitter out, but I definitely think it’s a good alternative to a traditional form of news, and one that is more interactive and appealing to younger generations.

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Taylor

I'm a 20-something University of Toronto student trying to hack it as a freelance writer but am also an aspiring journalist. I am particularly interested in diversity within the mass media and love to deconstruct different kinds of advertising, investigating the types of populations different kinds of marketing target.

6 thoughts on “Twitter Is a Great Newspaper Substitute”

  1. Yep. I follow enough people on Twitter that news I’m interested in, they will be tweeting about too. Then if I need to find out more, I go to online news sites. It’s a handy filter when you don’t want to deal with the mess of usual news.

  2. I go back and forth between using my twitter account a lot and not looking at it for days, but I also follow a lot of news sources and enjoy having a steady stream of interesting articles all day. Twitter is especially helpful with breaking news because we don’t have any TV channels.

  3. It’s fascinating to see how news moves around Twitter. Of course, there is a risk of bad sources, Peter and The Wolf situations and group hysteria, but it surprises me how often good, real news prospers.
    Finding followers is much harder anyway ;)

  4. Oh my gosh, this exactly. I restarted my Twitter use last semester when my roommates (the up-to-date on all social media junkies they are) found out I had one already and just wasn’t using it. I soon began following actual news sites and finally had a replacement for my news feed. My first year out of my parents’ house had really depleted the amount of news I was getting, since we normally got it from the television playing early in the morning and in the evening, but my roommates and I did not have that inclination to have the television on like that. So now I get my news from Twitter essentially. It’s a lot more fun too, because I can cater my tastes to the news to different categories, like Time has Time Health.

    On another note, my first semester I was doing the same thing with my notes and readings. I was still an English major so I had TONS of readings and a lot of them were online. I still feel guilty when I think of the stacks of paper that I printed out for a once/twice reading that I really didn’t get much out of. My dad bought me a tablet for second semester/birthday and I literally lived off of that thing. I have a kindle there, take notes on it by pairing it with a little bluetooth keyboard, and almost all of my online readings can be downloaded that way. It’s awesome because it makes everything more book-sized so I don’t feel like I’m reading an article off the computer, which I don’t love, plus I can switch between articles without having to worry about papers and books flying out of my hands as I walk everywhere. And it’s a fact! You really don’t absorb things as well when you highlight. Welcome to the Twittersphere, and may I suggest Pocket and IFTTT – I use them to store articles I find online (Pocket) and then IFTTT to post things to my Facebook and Twitter so that way I have a record of everything I send out.

    1. I know I’m late on commenting but I’m working construction for the summer and internet access is hit and miss depending on the hotel.

      @Aida: I love how more and more of this generation is beginning to hop on the digital text train. I have yet to buy or even try out those tablets but it sounds pretty handy..I’m still getting used to my iphone and do not feel motivated to do any sort of writing on it at all because I just don’t have the patience but my laptop also poses a problem because it is so bulky and hard to transport around. I’d be interested in learning more about Pocket and IFTTT however as I never think to save any especially interesting articles that I read online..I’ll have to do some research!

      @Dormouse: I’m definitely hit and miss with Twitter too as of late but I know I’m reading more than I’m posting!

      @M Freckle: That’s true about having to watch out for the most reliable sources, but part of me likes having to discern for myself what contains the most truth..I feel like all kinds of news outlets contain some amount of bias and Twitter is a little more real in the sense that it is a medium that asks people to be cautious of what they are reading and ingesting.

      1. Oh my gosh. Don’t even talk to me about the iPhone text method. See, I’m all android, including my tablet, and they use Swype, where you drag your finger across the keypad and to the letters in the words you want to write. So if you do it right (and once you get the hang of it, most of the time you will) the word just pops up. No annoying as heck single key typing like on the iPhone. I do have an iPod Touch, and that’s enough to remind me that I would frustratedly slam my phone against a wall before I managed to text everything I wanted to say on it. Seriously, I think this accurately exemplifies what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTooBnKAdSw
        Have you seen that before? I love it. I don’t think I could have given up my old physical keypad phone without it.

        As for your tablet thoughts, full disclosure: my Nexus 7 is slightly buggy, enough to make my techie father decide iPads (including iPad minis) are the way to go. However, I still prefer the Nexus, because of this article I found (before my Pocket days, so I don’t have it readily available :( ) that did this comprehensive review of both and in the end determined that Nexus was a better ereader, which, second only to note-taking, is my primary use for it so. Plus it’s Google. And I’m a sucker for Google. I do suggest researching both though, because I know exactly the problem you have and the tablet made me so much happier. Gah, I sound like a commercial. I’m sorry. But it really did.

        And I would definitely! That was exactly why I asked my dad for the advice (he’s got a blog on this stuff so I know he knows) because I was so tired of losing articles that were so interesting and knowing they were in my Facebook and Twitter feeds but knowing that was a terrible way to save them and that I didn’t always save them! It’s like having a digital library. I’m in love. I pocket almost everything now.

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