In Other Words (Feb. 17): Editor tries to embrace new Twitter account

by Stephanie Fellenstein Published:

I now have a Twitter account.

I resisted for as long as I could. Then I had the brilliant idea to write a column for my alma mater about the importance of embracing the future while keeping an eye on the fundamentals of journalism.

A bit hypocritical, I know. Seeing as up until a week ago I didn't have a Twitter account. Don't get me wrong. I was a Twitter stalker. I would keep an eye on things from a distance, but I finally decided I needed to heed my own advice and embrace the world of social media.

Embrace may actually be too strong of a word. Right now it is more of an awkward hug as Twitter and I get acquainted.

My generation of journalists is balanced on a precipice, tipping back and forth between the good old days of actual-hold-in-your-hands newspapers and magazines, and the uncharted wild west of online journalism.

We grew up with newspapers delivering the weather forecast, the TV guide, and the latest news. We had black and white televisions and watched three television channels regularly with news coming on at 6 and 11 p.m. That was as up-to-date as we got with our news. And back then, that was cutting edge.

While I was growing up, the Cleveland Press arrived daily at the end of my driveway. I remember feeling betrayed when it folded in 1982. I was 11. But the next day, the Cleveland Plain Dealer took its place on the driveway. The newspaper was kept company by the National Geographic, the Reader's Digest, Seventeen and numerous other magazines that my parents subscribed to.

There were no 24-hour news shows, online updates or tweets. Cable was just starting out and I could only watch MTV when my mom wasn't home.

Newspapers were our source for, well, the news and because of that, those journalists were regarded as experts. It was their job to get to an accident and take a photo and write a story. Joe Citizen did not tweet a picture of the accident or post a picture. The story and photo appeared in the newspaper the next day.

When I went into journalism, I pictured myself more as the old-school journalist with a cigar, the press card sticking out of my hat, pounding out type, as my co-worker says, on a typewriter. I still in my journalism heart-of-hearts relate more to those old-school journalists than the ones on their iphones posting breaking news as it happens.

But times change. And with that said, I asked those future journalists at my alma mater if they were up to the challenge of balancing the integrity of journalism with the future of social media.

I am willing to give it a shot.

I will still be tucked into my corner of the newsroom carefully choosing which word to put where for news and feature stories. And at the same time, I will put together my puzzle of 140-character tweets.

I can't promise that it will always be exciting or even mildly amusing, but check out @SJFellenstein and you can decide.

Email: sfellenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9437

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