By Courtney Ryan and Rebekah Graham
Andy Carvin, social media strategist for NPR, is notably known for his “tweet revolutions.” Carvin connects with well-informed people, via Twitter, carefully curating reliable tweets. Carvin, who has earned his Master’s degree in Telecommunications science from Northwestern University, now spends his time accumulating news bits, filtering the information he accesses to be news-and trust-worthy.
During the time of the Libya uprising, Carvin tweeted nearly 1,200 times in a span of two days. To cue you in on how Carvin operates, he begins by gathering information from a person he knows to be reliable, or, if he comes across a person he’s never met before, he observes their online activity, acting as a judge of character and seeing if they capture the true action of the happening. The Arab Spring allowed Carvin to combine two of his passions: social media and the Middle East. Working closely with Global Voices, he coordinated online resources promoting equal access.
During the time of the Arab Spring, Libya had limited access to the Internet. Carvin approaches social media as a tool to understanding this media as intimately as he can. Identifying himself as a writer over a reporter, Carvin’s work complements NPR’s standard reporting. But the question left unanswered is, does this (tweeting) represent a new role of journalism? And I think it does. Now, in the 21st Century, social media has become an extensive part of normal, everyday life, and not simply media professionals. Who is to say that Twitter cannot be used as a form of journalism, garnered it is done with professionalism and truthfulness. If tweets follow the same standards and guidelines accepted reporting and traditional reporting does, why not classify it as journalism?
Carvin explains his role as this: “I receive information from all sorts of people, try to keep up with it and mix those beats in a way that’s useful to people. You can’t necessarily dance to it, but hopefully you can learn from it.”
As of Nov. 30, Carvin’s most recent book is in the final stages of proofing and will be released in the near future. His book titled Distant Witness, he self describes as “a gripping, intimate story of how social media and the Arab Spring have caused a revolution in journalism.” Be sure to check it out!