First, let me me introduce myself to Berkman followers.
I’m Alexander Heffner, a new writer for the Center. I’m a freshman at Harvard and editor-in-chief of Scoop44, a national network of student journalists reporting on the Obama Administration from a unique generational lens. In this capacity, as an online journalist, a recent high school graduate, and as a millennial, I am the definition of digital native, by every estimation.
I’ve been stationed in Washington DC covering the Obama White House from Washington DC and the Brady Briefing Room since mid-Winter. In addition to my work reporting on the President and his administration, specifically related to the concerns and future of America’s coming-of-age, I’m exploring the intersection of politics and journalism, and how it manifests itself on the Internet … with whatever favorable (or not) broader societal implications.
Surfing Facebook on any weekday at the White House, you’ll quickly find some of the younger “deans” of the Washington press corps online, posting status updates and their recent articles or broadcast reports and, for some, exchanging comments with their readers or viewers. That can lead to enlightened debate…or not. Status updates can be used for purely self-promotional function, or for a reporter to perfect her lede for the most crisp delivery.
As a newcomer to the Oval Office beat, I’ve used these nativist tools to identity fellow reporters, arrange coffee with new colleagues, and identify Obama staffers (although most senior officials, as you might expect, are not on Facebook). While Facebook might lead you to post sensitive information, Twitter, the hot cyber gadget which facilities only short sentence-long updates, seems to give users greater control and less risk…especially to those politicians and journalists who fear compromising their credibility.
Either way, all statistics denote that both Facebook and Twitter, alongside other social networking sites, are growing up quickly, as Web aliens from older generations are learning to navigate these technologies.
Please stay tuned every Tuesday, either by video or in conventional print type, and I’ll give you a Berkman Internet-angled scoop from down in DC.