Japan quake changed social media's role, Twitter journalist @tsuda says

Daisuke Tsuda, left, with Ayako Mie as interpreter

Daisuke Tsuda’s lecture in Tokyo received a warm reception on Friday night. About 3o people came to hear the Twitter journalist talk about the increasingly important role of social media, said  AAJA-Tokyo member Yuri Kageyama, correspondent for the Associated Press who organized the event.

Tsuda (@tsuda), who has more than 190,000 followers on Twitter, says he is the first Japanese to use Twitter for journalism.

Yuri recaps the lecture:

We learned so much from Daisuke Tsuda. One of his many upbeat messages: Twitter journalism complements mainstream media.

Tsuda said his view of using social media changed after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Net media give people the chance to turn an emotion into action with a click,” he said. “I see my role as analyzing policy, using new media, and leading Japanese politics in the right direction.”

But all journalists can recognize the role of social media in giving a voice to a minority, helping the mainstream listen to varied views and functioning as a fantastic tool for investigative reporting and other journalism, he said.

Many people at the lecture found out about it mostly online, many through Twitter. They included a student who wants to study journalism abroad and Tokyo’s own retired AP reporter Mr. Kimura.

Some non-Japanese participants asked why Twitter was so popular in Japan, while others asked  how Twitter was working as an activism tool after March 11.

Tsuda cited research by Professor Hirabayashi, who found that out of the first-time protesters turning up in droves at anti-nuclear demonstrations, almost no one (5 percent) learned about the event through traditional means. The most popular way was via the Internet.

Tsuda also shared a paper he had written on how social media could help the Tohoku recovery.

He also shared a story about a freelance journalist who utilized social media to shape his career. He addressed practical questions, such as how to monetize journalistic content online. On that topic, he said clicking donations at 10 yen each, much like a Facebook “like,” was likely to be the next Internet trend in Japan.

He said that because people who go by their real identities on Twitter are getting bashed by anonymous people, the platform is proving to be testing ground for a battle between real identities vs. anonymity on the net.

He gave personal advice to someone who asked about SNS and human relations, and encouraged people to use Twitter to widen their contacts, knowledge and perspective.

He added that thanks to Twitter, he had been able to find a university teaching job. A Waseda professor called him after seeing his tweet complaining about how he wished he could teach a course on Twitter journalism.

As a pioneer of Twitter, Tsuda is still a bit embarrassed to be described as “a Twitter star.”

He laughed a little at the term and said he wasn’t a celebrity on Twitter. But he does claim to be the first Japanese to use Twitter for journalism.

Of course, there are limitations to what you can communicate on Twitter, he said.

“But Twitter can give you that chance to start an interaction,” he said.

And that’s important for journalism.

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