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Cost drives some convention-goers to attend Tweetup

By The EIJ News

By Josephine Varnier / Photo by Nikki Villoria

From the perspective of a seasoned Tweetup coordinator, the gathering at Alcatraz Brewing Co. in downtown Indianapolis was a success.

Robert Moran, a member of the California State University chapter of SPJ, at Alcatraz Brewing Co. in downtown Indianapolis,sends a text during a Tweetup organized by two SPJ members.
Robert Moran, a member of the California State University chapter of SPJ, at Alcatraz Brewing Co. in downtown Indianapolis,sends a text during a Tweetup organized by two SPJ members.

“It seems like everyone is having a good time,” said Jeff Cutler, delegate of the New England Pro Chapter, who met face-to-face with about 25 others who participated in the Tweetup.

The gathering was organized by Ron Sylvester, vice president of the SPJ digital media committee, and Sonya Smith, vice president of the Orange County Pro Chapter. Cutler, a freelance journalist and content specialist, has organized 100 Tweetups in Boston.

“My entire livelihood hinges on being a social media journalist … so I’m here at the event that was put together with social media tools,” said Cutler, who teaches social media and was a workshop speaker at the SPJ convention.

A Tweetup is any event where people are brought together through the use of any social media tool, not just Twitter, Cutler said.

A successful Tweetup, Cutler added, is when people meet, make connections and get something out of the meeting.

Rebecca Pollack, editor of Grocery Manufacturers Association’s daily news briefing SmartBrief, said she began Tweeting for her company but had not attended a Tweetup until Saturday. She attended the Tweetup instead of the SPJ banquet.

“I think this event might be more beneficial to me than the banquet,” Pollack said. “Social media is what I’m really interested in with journalism.”

Networking wasn’t the only reason SPJ members attended the Tweetup.

Lack of funds was the reason for some, including Michael Stoll, an editor for the online news Web site The Public Press in San Francisco.

“I’m from an under-resourced startup organization and can’t afford all the bells and whistles of the conference,” Stoll said.

Smith said she wanted to attend the SPJ banquet but didn’t have the $65 to attend. So she organized the Tweetup.

“This brings together a random grouping of people who are on Twitter to enjoy the night in a cheap manner, which is nice,” Smith said.

Sylvester, who worked on the Tweetup with Smith, had mentioned the idea at the conference last year after noticing the increase in Twitter activity.

“The convention is so big you don’t know everybody, and this is a chance to meet people,” he said.