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Tweeting the future of student journalism

Today's reporters need to be skilled in multimedia applications, including Twitter—and student journalism programs are reflecting this need.

When the undefeated Patriots football team of Freedom High School in Bethlehem Township, Pa., played the Emmaus Green Hornets on Friday night, Freedom senior Tyler Alicea had his heart in the game—and his mind and hands on his phone.

Tyler was using his phone to tweet updates about the game while standing in the student section of the bleachers. But don’t think he was abusing the power of wireless internet access to slam his school’s opponent. As editor-in-chief of the Freedom Forum student newspaper, Tyler was providing updates on the Forum’s Twitter account to readers and fans who could not attend the game in Emmaus.

“We’re trying to expand our readership and get more people involved within the school,” said Tyler, 17, a senior from Bethlehem Township. “But we are conscious of the digital age, and once you put something up on the internet, it’s up there. We stress what is ethical in a journalistic manner.”

The Forum’s fledgling internet initiative—Twitter, Facebook, video links, and polls on the newspaper website—mirrors that of mainstream newspapers, which are trying to harness technology to make money and expand reach without compromising integrity.

For more on student journalism in the digital age, see:

Companies reduce barriers to school video production

Online journalism is elementary for these students

Students learn the ethics of cell phone snapshots

Freedom English teacher Karla Erdman is leading her students into this ever-changing field.

When she took over the monthly Forum in the 2009-10 school year, Erdman said, she realized she had a lot to learn about putting together a newspaper, such as layout, news writing, reporting, and the law, which is more restrictive for student-run newspapers. When it came to using multimedia tools to enhance the newspaper, Erdman said, she was confounded.

“I was not a fan of Twitter,” Erdman said.

She is now.

Her admiration for the social media tool came over the summer when she was accepted to a two-week fellowship for teachers sponsored by ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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