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Twitter observed through hashtag (VIDEO, PODCAST)

Each Twitter user is only one tweet away from any other user in the world, an almost instantaneous form of communication that is rapidly growing among the journalism world. At the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) and Journalism Education Association (JEA) all attendees are encouraged to use #hsjSF to interact with some of the 4,000 students in attendance, April 25-27.

The Bay Area is famous for being a widely known social media hub, as one of the largest social networking services, Twitter, has its headquarters stationed in San Francisco, CA. So, the conference allows students the opportunity to experience the power of social media throughout their stay.

As one of many speakers, Karen Wickre, Twitter?s Editorial Director, talked to students about the effects that Twitter can have in the journalism world. In developing Twitter, Wickre believes that the platforms have changed to make Twitter a success.

“What?s changed are the platforms,” Wickre said. “Twitter is the most world-changing publishing platform I?ve ever seen. It provides a real-time element that appeals to users, especially youth.?

Wickre used some of last year’s biggest news stories, such as the death of Bin Laden, the Riots in London 2011 and the 2012 Presidential Election, to showcase how Twitter tends to inform the public with the most recent information even more so than cable news companies.

“Twitter is delightful because it has personality in it,” Wickre said. “The fascination of Twitter, I think, has to do with the window; it gives users a window on the world of others. That is fascinating.”

In the presentation, Wickre says what separates Twitter from other social media networks is that is much more public than a Facebook page which is often private. On Twitter a user could get updates from a famous politicians or celebrities without being friends with them.

In the opening ceremony of the NSPA and JEA conference, the keynote speaker speaker shared about the impact that one person could make. Now, senior McKay Mohun, sophomores Cally Fries and Ryan King explore the impact that one tweet can have.

For Burges High School, in El Paso, TX, they experienced the power that using a hashtag can receive. From their tweets they were able to get one students to appear on Ellen Degeneres, Ellie Vega said.

At Burges High School there is a intellectually disabled senior named Mitchell Marcus, who was the manager of the varsity basketball team. During one game, Marcus’s team was ahead, so he was give the chance to play. Then, one player from the other team purposefully passed him the ball so he could make a basket during the game for his team.

“After that {game}, we all hashtagged #GetMitchellSportsCenter,” Vega said. “That {hashtag} began trending and eventually got to Ellen Degeneres and Sports Center. He was on both TV shows.”

According to Callie Walker of Palo Alto, CA, and Palo Alto High School, the effects and power of Twitter depend on the user.

“Hashtags can be really influential, depending how active people are with Twitter,” Walker said. “If a hashtag gets trending, then I think a lot of people are influenced to use that hashtag, possibly about spirit week, or whose your favorite teacher. I definitely things hashtags are a powerful thing.”

Though Twitter can provide many resources for communication, it can also have harmful effects. Because Twitter is solely in the hands of the public, it allows room for things like cyber bulling. Kevin Mathein from Glenbrook South High School in Chicago, IL, has personally witnessed the impacts of bullying on Twitter.

“The largest impact I’ve seen Twitter have on other people; there has big a pretty big cyber bullying scandal at my school,” Mathein said. “A few people have been bullying other students on Twitter. That is where I have seen the biggest impact in a negative. But also I follow a few of my favorite photographers and other mentors, to see what kind of work they are doing.”

Twitter Talks

These writers can be reached via Twitter: @mckaymohun, @callyfries4 and @rkphotographyrk. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more features, read the April 24 article, Spanish classes tour Univision, cook cultural dishes.

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