Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NFL Reporters on Twitter

It might seem outrageous to say so, but I think this Twitter thing has legs.

Like, this thing could actually get kinda big.

The thing that struck me throughout the day, as I continually checked for updates on the latest NFL signings (and the Eagles stubborn insistence on waiting for everyone else to move before they do anything), was how the way in which I gather and react to breaking sports news is so different from even last year.

Now, last year was a normal year in the NFL, so there wasn't as much compression of all the NFL news into one short period of time. But with that said, last year I'm sure I was sitting at a desk somewhere, every now and then hitting refresh on ProFootballTalk or or an Eagles Message Board.

Sitting, locked into a computer, waiting for a writer or blogger to create some 'content' and blast it out for everyone to their site.

Now, I'm just yanking feverishly on my Twitter app, from my phone, with the only limit to instantaneous news releases is whether or not Adam Schefter's thumbs finally snapped off.

The information travels faster, that's certainly a given. But I don't think that's what I like best about it.

The information is also pretty diverse, in that at this point (now that John Clayton from ESPN joined), pretty much every reporter is on the darned thing. And since they all follow each other through some dizzying interconnected spiderweb, a notable piece of information is immediately re-tweeted until everyone even remotely interested is also reporting it. So every source can be a source to all. The publication you write is now far outweighed by how many followers you have and the coolness of your avatar (hint: pick something hip and ironic, but not so hip and ironic that it's actually lame, although I can rarely tell the difference)

And yet, I don't think that diverse array of sources coming together quickly and seamlessly is my favorite part either.

I think my favorite part of the whole thing is the 140.

140 characters. That's all you get. That is the sole physical limitation of a tweet. Laden or unladen. African or European.

What that means for reporters, is that there's no such thing as burying the lede. You have to say what the news is, and there is no room for any filler.

For someone who's read enough AP sports game and news recaps to write one in its exact style from memory (which is why I always had an easy time writing Sports at the PSU newspaper), it's great not to have to cull through that for the important stuff.

It's all just right there, in 140 characters.

Now, that's not to say there aren't downsides.

The emphasis on speed leads to more rumors and half-truths being thrown out there, and the democratization of information flow certainly facilitates that. A nobody can start a Twitter rumor that escalates into a full-blown 'Oh Shit Brett Favre's Coming Back Again' nightmare. Editor's Note: No sooner did I post this than I saw an article talking about exactly this scenario - Article

I'm also still not sold on Twitter's interface, because I have a terrible time deciding who to follow and who not to follow. I want to get news and funny stuff, but sometimes I'll think about adding someone and see their entire stream is just a series of conversations with other people. That just seems like a waste in the feed.

And then of course there's also the fact that it pushes us further to the point where we all just demand a constant data feed wired into our brains.

But that's something I've been advocating for years anyway.

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