Yet another example of Twitter’s relevance to the journalistic enterprise surfaced recently when the Los Angeles Times confirmed that it was hiring a reporter to cover “Black Twitter.”
Before we go any further, let me try my hand at a bit of impossible definition. Black Twitter is a shifting group of African-Americans on Twitter who together tend to comment on matters of race, discrimination, dissent – and everything else. There is a growing understanding that a fleet of thoughtful, smart black people are finding community on the social media platform and together they are trendsetters. The #blacklivesmatter hashtag is only one example of how folks have coalesced around a theme and created a newsworthy conversation.
A leaked memo from the Times suggests that new reporter Dexter Thomas also will be seeking other online communities, such as “Latino Tumblr” and “Black Medium.”
I wouldn’t focus terribly much on the two-word mash-ups. (“Grandma Facebook,” anyone?) The point is that big news organizations are increasingly understanding that social media is a place to find news in addition to a distribution mechanism.
One of the ways community newspapers differ from social media is in the way we generally define community. For us, it’s most often a geographical construct. If you live in Douglas, Ariz., you are part of that community. But if you are a Latino with a smartphone in Douglas, your community may be other Latinos from around the world. These aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. Look for points of intersection. …
I strongly suggest searching Twitter for minority communities with significant presence in your physical community. You can create separate streams of those conversations with apps like Hootsuite. You will undoubtedly be enlightened.