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Twitter 101: A college class all abt Tweets (97)

September 2, 2009 |  6:13 pm

This fall, some DePaul University students will learn how to report news in 140 characters or less, thanks to a new class centered on Twitter, which --

Ooops. We went over.

Of course, brevity will be only one of the many lessons the Chicago journalism students will get as they follow politics and politicians on the booming social network.

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Last year's presidential election gave Twitter a chance to shine as "both a feedback mechanism and organizational tool," inspiring the course's professor, Craig Kanalley, to join the service.

That's what he wrote in an old-fashioned e-mail. Naturally, the subject of politics will be a recurring theme in the class.

Kanalley founded the website, Breaking Tweets, which bills itself as "world news, Twitter style."

President Obama's inauguration "gave me the idea for Breaking Tweets, chronicling major events around the world through citizen reports from the scene," Kanalley wrote.

A valuable use for plugged-in journalists on the Hill, Kanalley wrote, is to keep tabs on Congress members and officials by following Twitter accounts of those on their beats.

Reporters can then get crucial alerts from sources about, for example, when Rep. Kevin McCarthy is celebrating his wedding anniversary or when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher goes surfing. (Find out which beach, and you've got yourself an exclusive interview, Cub Scout!)

This new medium has a potential stumbling block, however. "It's important to verify that it's really them, and even then, you have to be careful attributing words to them because the updates could be from campaign staffers," Kanalley wrote.

Making the work easier for students, Twitter has begun verifying account holdersand placing badges on the pages of some public figures. Like an online Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

One unanswered question: How many characters in each class lecture?

-- Mark Milian

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