Come and engage – Digital Dialogue 16 May

Twitter insights for journalism students from Mandy Wiener

I interviewed Mandy Wiener a while ago and here’s what she had to say about the role of Twitter in SA newsrooms and educating journalists on good Twitter practice.

Wonder woman of SA journalism and author of “Killing Kebble”, Mandy Wiener (Image via

1.   How do you view the role of Twitter in SA newsrooms?

Twitter has significantly changed the game in the media environment. It has become crucial both for consuming and disseminating news. News now breaks on Twitter before you see, hear or read it anywhere else. This means the dynamic for radio journalists in particular has been altered. In the past, radio journalists were always able to scoop other media because we could have something on air long before the paper came out the following day. Now we’re under far greater pressure to get the news out on Twitter, along with all our other platforms. We also get a large number of leads from Twitter – the public has a direct line to reporters and can send us information relatively anonymously. At the same time, through Twitter we have citizen reporters on hand instantaneously, everywhere. Eyewitnesses can tweet us pictures from breaking news stories within seconds of an event happening.

2.  Do you think tweeting is an important skill for young journalists and should they be educated about its journalistic uses? 

Absolutely, without a doubt. What most people don’t realise is that reporting on Twitter is an art. It’s a skill that needs to be honed and developed. Many journalists get it very wrong. You need to be able to summarise the salient points of a court argument or a press conference in 140 characters. This can’t include cellphone speak and needs to encapsulate the point without overflowing into a second tweet. This is incredibly difficult. Also, because of the nature of social media, a journalist needs to take extreme care when tweeting a story live. One mistake and the tweet goes viral, carrying false information. It gets retweeted and retweeted and that falsehood can be accepted as truth, particularly if it comes from a source which is usually credible. While we can say things on Twitter which we can’t say on radio, this has its downfalls and drawbacks as the risk is so much higher.

3.  What do you think students need to learn about twitter in particular? 

Twitter comes with responsibility. Particularly if you have large numbers of followers. With 30 000 followers, I always envisage myself talking to a stadium full of people before I send a tweet. Would I stand up in front of all those gathered at FNB Stadium and tell them something that wasn’t factually accurate? Or tell them something intimate and personal? As journalists, people would follow you for news value and accuracy and you need to ensure you provide that.


Celebs and Social Media… The Internet doesn’t forget

Tomorrow’s theme is “How the famous practice social media use and how the public respond”. I could not have asked for a better example than last week’s Jessica Leandra dos Santos (last year’s FHM competition winner) scandal. Read this article by Mandy Wiener to find out more… Please comment with other examples of celebs and politicians who use social media, both those to good and bad effect.

Source: Anne Helen Petersen’s blog “Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style”

“Celebrities really benefit from showing their true selves on social media, but they need to be aware of the risks, and be prepared to deal with consequences.” — Todd Beck, President, Beck Media and Marketing

Here are some interesting related articles:

Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter Fumble: Is Social Media Still Safe for Celebrities? (Analysis)

(FYI Demi Moore is no longer @MrsKutcher on Twitter for those of you into TV Guide/ Entertainment News)

Lady Gaga attracts criticism over ‘Pop Stars Don’t Eat Tweet’

What to Do When Your Celebrity Client Flips Out on Social Media

Top 10 Celebrity Twitter scandals of 2011

Boost your production portfolio by getting involved…

WHOCSOC is a student’s guide to the latest news, videos, features, gig guide info, competitions, classifieds, photos and so much more. WHOCSOC is your link to what’s happening both on and off campus. If you would like to contribute writing, photography or be part of the WHOCSOC video crew, please drop an email to

Image source: This website has great articles on how to write newspaper articles, CVs, planning interviews, etc. Click on the image to visit this website.

The UCT Humanities Student Council have also just started an online magazine called E-Pulse. This magazine will publish informative articles for students, by students to showcase the various talents embedded in the faculty! Here’s what they’re looking for:

1.  one person with a passion for music, who will be responsible for this section:

Write a short paragraph about music and what you think good music is and include anything else that you think will set you apart from all the other applicants as the best

2.       Creative writers

These individuals will get a chance to publish their creative writing on any interesting topic of their choice. This is not a permanent position. To be considered, write a short motivation of not more than one page.

3.       An Assistant

This individual will be responsible for all administration concerning the effective operation of “E-Pulse”. Send in your C.V and attach a motivational letter- one page maximum.

4.       Anyone with an interesting article or piece of artwork etc. to be showcased. Bring it into the office  (Room b27, Beattie Building)

What’s in it for you….

·         You will be part of the team of the first ever Humanities On-line magazine

·         It looks good on your C.V

·         It is a valuable experience that will have a positive impact on your future as a professional

N.B! you can bring in your CV and motivation to the HSC office – Room b27, Beattie Building OR E-mail them to

Don’t forget to tweet…

Image source:


The LA Times had an interesting article earlier this month on Ugandan militia leader, Joseph Kony. This viral video, created as part of a social media campaign by Invisible Children Inc., has been criticized for oversimplifying the dilemma (according to this article).   #stopkony has been trending on Twitter – even celebrities such as Rihanna have urged their followers to watch the video (aslo available at the Invisible Children’s YouTube Channel). Here’s a short teaser video clip for their campaign:

Please reply to the following questions as blog comments:

What do you think about this campaign?

What is happening on the 20th of April?

The Invisible Children state the following on their website:


What do you think about this video in terms of digital storytelling? Refer to the 7 elements of digital storytelling mentioned in the presentation on digital storytelling in your Vula resources.

What kinds of analogies are being drawn in this video?

What do you think of the kony video in relation to other viral videos that you know about? Does this qualify as activism or clicktivism – what do you think?

Good writing is rewriting!

So you’ve received your essays back and been told to work on your academic writing… The Writing Centre offers UCT students the brilliant service of one-on-one, walk-in consultations. Their website also has good resources that you can use to improve on your writing, such as a quick guide to Harvard referencing and grammar.

About Writing Centre

The key thing to remember is that the art of writing is about rewriting. As a PhD student, I still visit a writing analyst at the Writing Centre who offers very useful advice on writing style, structure and voice. I have rewritten most of my chapters three times at this stage and will probably edit them all again. The first copy of your essay is never the best it can be: there is always room for improvement.  Good writing is rewriting!

Apply this practice to your blog posts as well – some much-needed proofing awaits…

You blog therefore you are…

In the indomitable words of Descartes, ‘I think therefore I am’. Thinking is the most important activity you will do all day, aside from breathing. Forget to eat breakfast but NEVER forget to think. You should set aside a certain amount of time per day just to think… you’ll be amazed at what you come up with. Blogs are an incredible way of harnessing your thoughts and sharing them with others. Simply blog yourself into being.

Teaching this seminar has enabled me to fall in love with this process all over again. I don’t mean to quote myself because that is such a super self indulgent thing to do; but bare with me here. I really love the idea of making history pertain to the present; history is not something we should ever dismiss or take for granted. I learnt about hypomnemata (see Foucault) and as a social media scholar I loved how it relates to postmodern day practices.

In Ancient Greece hypomnemata was a term to describe notes, or public records. The idea was for the citizen to write himself (I use the masculine here quite simply because women did not write) into being. Thus began the concept of writing and identity formation through these citizen records. Aside from this “culture of the self” what was important was the preservation of the self in writing and also being able to reformulate oneself and one’s ideas over time. Hence hypomnemata is a collection of what has been said; writing that establishes a relationship with the self. (La Claw aka Hiltermann: 2012)

So think of your blogs as so much more than just everyday ramblings, they are archives. I encourage you all to embrace the next 7 weeks and blog as much as you can, and share the process with your classmates. Comment, share and above all, think.

Journeys in the blogosphere

Hi there Survivors:) Checkout the links to your classmates’ blogs under ‘2012 Student blogs’ to the right of this page. Please email your blogs to Nicci if you have not done so yet, comment on the class blog posts and those of your fellow survivors. Don’t forget to edit out the default WordPress posts and comments (i.e. ‘Hello World’) – make your blog your own and have fun on your Social Media journey:) You can also direct any specific questions about blogging to Nicci as a comment to this post or make an appointment to see her if you need help.

Welcome to Survivor Social Media!

Image via CrunchyBlogger which also has some good social media tips:)

This seminar introduces students to a range of social media through theory and application. We will not only be learning about blogs and Twitter, but we will also be engaging with these existing platforms as part of the seminar’s learning environment. Seminar members will be responsible for their own personal WordPress blogs (linked to our seminar blog). We will also be tweeting about social media and current events and sharing our digital stories on YouTube.

The seminar structure and range of assignments have been chosen to support second year media students in several ways:

  • Blogs and digital stories can be added to their portfolios if they wish to apply for entry into one of the production streams.
  • The ability to blog and use Twitter equips students to be potentially valuable interns at a range of media, advertising or marketing companies. These activities also make for great part-time work.
  • Writing for the web requires students to constantly practice their editing skills.
  • Students will be doing ‘real’ writing – they will be exposed to an audience online, and need to be aware of their ethics and responsibilities.
  • This seminar reminds students of their digital footprints and how important it is to maintain an active online identity. [Download seminar outline]