Twitter: When Print and New Media Collide

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The use of print and new media has been an on-going issue of debate. This might be the result of a generational gap since older generations prefer traditional forms of media like books and newspapers while e-books, Twitter and Facebook have become a major part of the new generation’s daily life. Looking at this opposition, it might also be a matter of cultural difference, because not all countries have access to these new forms of media. Access might either be difficult because of political restrictions or socio-economic conditions. In relation to our class’s recent discussion about this given contradiction and the issue of twitter’s reliability as a platform for literature, I will discuss my views about new media, specifically about Twitter, and its feasibility to be a platform not only for freedom of expression but as a tool for mass- mediated communication today.

Twitter is characterized as a social media platform that only allows tweets of 140 characters. Anyone has access to a technological device such as a computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. with internet connection can create his/her own profile. Given how easy it is to use twitter, many people still have some reservations, since they are not familiar with the structure and they do not take the platform seriously. Many teenagers nowadays are known for their rants in social media like Twitter because they might have difficulties expressing their feelings in the “real world.” This poses the question if this social media platform can be regarded as a democratic space where one can post literature, news and other content that will not just reflect one’s personal views but also as a platform where useful information can be generated?

In the media industry, various networks and companies are already employing the power of social media because of its practicality, worldwide reach, and timeliness. They can reach people from all walks of life 24 hours a day. This paves the way to real time reporting, since they do not need to wait for printing deadlines or TV time slots to disseminate the information. They can share one liner leads with appropriate images and links, directing the readers to their own website. This way, people can access news and be a part of generating news through citizen reporting. Social media thus bestow both media conglomerates and the public with the power to tell pressing stories or current events. There a lot of whistleblowers who divulge public officials’ corruption because they gain confidence through the power of social media while protecting their identity. Ratings are also gauged through hashtags. TV programs present a hashtag for a specific episode. They can measure their ratings if that hashtag trends in their country or worldwide. However, social media turn authority and reliability into emblems of ambiguity since one should find out whether the specific news or exposé is true and not just merely a hoax. Since the internet is open to everyone, it is also the subject of abuse and false information. Even though various media companies utilize it successfully to inform, the people should still be responsible for the critical analysis of what they are getting and what they are posting.

In contrast to Twitter’s success in disseminating news and current events, I think that it is not yet a suitable platform for literary pieces such as novels or short stories. Its “backreading” format, character constraints and the dilemma of authorship can challenge not only the coherence of the story per se but also the legality of the literary piece. It opens a lot of questions such as: How can an author make profit if the platform is free? If the public’s comments contribute to the story, how can we distinguish the sense of authorship in this scenario? Here, I think, traditional media are still the best option for literary publication and depending on the readers’ preference, e-books are also a good option. However, the idea of writing literature specifically in Twitter is indeed debatable.

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