The Buzz about Twitter

This isn't a huge deal, but I had to write an article for one of my journalism classes about Twitter, so I thought I'd share on here.

The assignment was to interview 4-5 people about Twitter, and describe it to someone as if it was the first time they had ever heard about it. So I interviewed some CU students, conservative political bloggers Nick De Leeuw and Tabitha Hale, and GR Press online editor Meegan Holland.

The buzz about Twitter
By Rachel Watson

What is Twitter?

According to it is both social network, and a new phenomenon called micro-blogging, which means instead of full-length text entries, it allows brief, 140-character updates in response to the question, "What are you doing?"

In that respect, it is much like Facebook, a social network created in 2003. Facebook also allows for status updates and messaging between users.

Twitter is different than Facebook, though, because of the brevity of the messages, the layout of the site and the lack of emphasis on photo sharing.

Senior English writing and media studies major David Duhon said he first heard of Twitter during a Cornerstone chapel speaker’s presentation last semester.

"I was like, 'What is this guy talking about?'" Duhon said. He had no plans to join until a journalism professor required it in one of his classes in early April.

"I hate going on the computer besides working," Duhon said. "I'd rather be doing something outside rather than looking at my computer screen."

Another CU student, Leigh Helder, said she heard about Twitter through the band MercyMe, which uses the site to promote their music.

"I just didn't want to join," Helder said. None of her friends that she knows of are on Twitter, so Helder said she didn’t really see a point.

Duhon said his initial reaction to the site after signing up was "confusion mixed with the excitement of viewing it like a game," but then said after failing to understand its usefulness, he quickly lost interest.

Perhaps CU students Duhon and Helder are not excited about Twitter. However, many in the professional world have jumped on board enthusiastically.

According to, a site devoted to explaining Twitter to the uninformed, it "can be used to broadcast your company's latest news and blog posts, interact with your customers, or to enable easy internal collaboration and group communication."

Conservative Grand Rapids political consultant and blogger Nick De Leeuw said Twitter has been greatly helpful to him on a professional level.

"It's a great way to connect with folks all over the country on an idea basis," he said.

De Leeuw said the most useful aspect is the networking opportunities it provides.

"I've gotten work off Twitter, I've made friends on Twitter and I've gotten more traffic to go to my blog because of it," he said.

Tabitha Hale, another blogger from Raleigh, N.C., can also attest to its usefulness as a Web traffic-driving tool.

"I just started [Twitter] around Thanksgiving when I started blogging and it just seemed like a natural thing to do," she said. "Since then I've met a lot of great people and it went crazy from there. The instant feedback is good, it's pretty interactive, and the news cycle goes really fast."

Hale said she doesn't use Twitter in a professional sense in the office, but has noticed the hits on her political blog,, have quadrupled since she began Tweeting her blog headlines.

Meegan Holland, online editor at The Grand Rapids Press, said she believes Twitter is a tool every journalist should use.

"If you're not Twittering, on Facebook, taking digital photos, writing decent stories and on YouTube, you won't be as useful," she said. "You should be at least connected to the Web."

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