Harvesting power of 140-character journalism

July 29th, 2011 - 11:08 am ICT by IANS  

Facebook New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) One hundred and forty characters can be quite a constraint for a scribe, but in the age of Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, he must learn to harvest the wealth of a 70-character headline, says a US-based Indian social media tech whiz.

“Many journalists say they cannot express themselves in 140 characters. But I have seen that no headline is more than 70 characters for the 600 to 1,000 words of content below,” Sree Sreenivasan, who is dean of students affairs and professor at Columbia Journalism School, told IANS in an interview.

“Journalists can use 60 to 70 characters on social networking sites as a link to their 1,000-word content,” he said. One hundred and forty characters is the maximum limit that can be used for writing on Twitter.

Journalism in the social media could also become a fashion statement, the tech guru who also co-founded the influential South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), said.

Outlining a future scenario, Sreenivasan said, “Consider this: ‘India loses test’. The headline will not take up more than 40 characters. One can always read it on Twitter, go to a party and exclaim, ‘it is very sad, India has lost the test,’” he said.

That is the power of 140-character journalism, he said.

Sreenivasan, hailed as one of the 35 most influential people in the social media, was in the city as part of his staggered India tour to address students and professionals on “Facebook vs. Google+ :Compliment or Competition” at the American Center Wednesday.

Social networking sites help journalists in four important ways.

“They help journalists find new ideas, trends and sources, connect to the readers and viewers in new ways, bring eyeballs and traffic to your work and help journalists create, craft and enhance new skills,” he said.

Five years from now, Sreenivasan foresees “headline taking over news content in the media”.

“Five years is a lifetime. But in terms of headlines, at a time when there are more voices, more Twitter, more Facebook and more Google Plus, some think it will be bad for journalists, but I think it will be good for journalists,” Sreenivasan said.

“They will stand out. Trained, professional and smart journalists will have more demand, not less. Everyone hosts a Facebook or Twitter. But I would rather read the ones from a journalist because they have built a brand over some high school kids who are here on the social networking sites,” the communication guru said.

Sreenivasan said “his faculty at Columbia University forces all students to learn Facebook, Twitter and Four Square”.

“They should be on top of it,” Sreenivasan said. The tech whiz-kid “helps journalists and consumers use technology in smarter ways”.

And with more than 100 million-plus internet users in India, news headlines in the social media seem to be the way to go.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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