When Humberto Martinez came to the Times Union he thought he was just going to be another writer. However, his co-workers soon noticed his apt for everything electronic and got him to work becoming the Twitter guy.
The 23-year old news guru is a native of Houston, Texas and has come to Albany as a member of the Herst Fellowship program. This is a journalism program that sends its fellows around the country to various news organizations in eight-month intervals over two years. The Times Union is the second stop on the map for Martinez. In his talk he addressed the difficultly of moving around a lot for a journalist.
“You remove yourself from friends and family and you actually lose all your networks and sources,” but as Martinez points out there are many ways for traveling journalists to create new banks of sources everywhere they go.
According to Martinez one of the best tools to use is Twitter. As a rising social media network Twitter is constantly connecting users to seemingly limitless sources. How it works is really quite simple:
1. Create an account.
2. Find people to follow.
3. Post interesting things so people will follow you.
What may seem most difficult at first is how to sift through all the junk that people post to get to the important news breaks that people are posting all the time. But like everything electronic there are applications designed to make using Twitter much more feasible to everyone from the novice Tweeter to the hard core users like Martinez. Seesmic and Tweetdeck are just two of such applications that will take your followers and organize them into designated groups so it is much easier to find what you are looking for.
“You have to really kind of dig and find what you want and what you need,” Martinez explains. “It’s a blender for me with everything mixed in my feed.” He goes on his Twitter and can grab sources from all different areas of the Capital District with all different areas of knowledge. If you use the right tools to sort things out it can be a one stop shop for a number of leads.
This form of networking is of growing importance for the journalists of today. Everything is moving online and everyone needs to find the best way from them to stay connected.
However, as Martinez points out when using social media applications and working with distributing information to the public you have to really look at how people get there news. You have to post interesting and relevant things to legitimize your following.
“It’s a mixed bag and you don’t really know if it (flooding people with Tweets) is obnoxious to people or not. You need to gauge your audience.” Once you can do this Martinez says, “You will see that your Tweets aren’t just Tweets anymore they are replies and it has become a conversation.”
Twitter can be more than reading about what Sally had for breakfast or what Jim did at work today. It is a tool journalists can use to advocate and gather the news. It is a bank of thousands of potential sources and needs to be utilized by more writers.