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Telling the story in 150 characters

February 25, 2009

Regular readers of my comments or my blogs may have deduced that I have a hard time being brief. When I’ve got something to say I’ve got lots I want to say.

Well, learning social networking using Facebook has me learning how to share the short story, too.

One of Facebook’s main features is the “what are you doing now” feature where you are encouraged to tell your “friends” what you are doing now.

A lot of my friends write a lot of unintelligible dribble. Yuck. Even the ones who write an intelligible message, such as “Rich is sad,” don’t tell you WHY they are sad. If I care about my friends, I want to know.

Being journalistically minded I at least want to put what I am doing into some kind of context so my friends, if they care, can understand what I am saying. I try to convey a short news story about myself.

The challenge is, though, is that you have only about 150 characters of space with that “what are you doing now” tool. I’m finding it good practice for me to say what I want to say more concisely.

Of course, when that doesn’t work, you always have other options, including posting a sentence devoid of enough information, and then immediately posting a comment –which you friends can do, too– that gives additional information, kind of like a subhead to a headline might.

Now, I haven’t really delved into Twitter, though I recently have started to see some good journalistic samples so I’m beginning to understand the value, but there you are limited to just 144 characters per message.

Another thing I am trying to do with Facebook and social networking is tell stories a bit more often. As Solano College’s Mary Mazzocco shared on the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ listserve when I started eging on JACC instructors to join Facebook, you want to get out and mingle often at the party, not just stay in a corner, but you don’t want to overdo. Unless there is a reason, I really do not need to know that you are leaving your office to walk to your car and then get another note once you’ve arrived at your car.

But I try to share often, at least daily, what is going on in my life. Some of my Facebook friends NEVER seem to share what is going on in their life.

Okay, I’ve just used up more than 2,193 characters, or about 407 words, so I’ll shut for now. I could never have shared all that in 150 characters!

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One comment

  1. […] it like Twitter-lite. I think journalism teachers could use the status updates to teach concise story-telling in 150 characters or less, and there is great value […]



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