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Sep 13 / Peter Panacy

How Twitter and other social media can make you a better sportswriter

Peter PanacyBefore I came to Bleacher Report, I neither used nor paid much attention to Twitter.  But it quickly became apparent that this social-media tool was an integral part of sports media.

I didn’t take the traditional route when it comes to beginning a career in sports journalism. I was a history major who received my bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University and knew relatively little about sportswriting.

Yet my degree gave me a chance to hone my writing skills and transplant those to another love of mine: sports. After some time as a contributor for Bleacher Report, I became involved in both the Featured Columnist program and the Advanced Program in Sports Media.

Regardless of how far I had come and how much I thought I knew before, the program allowed me to continue my growth and development in ways I never previously thought possible.

One of those aspects was Twitter. It’s a great place to find fresh and relevant information from players, analysts and fans alike regarding my favorite sports and teams.

It’s also a great means to interact.

What is great about the combination of Twitter and Bleacher Report is the fact that writers can intertwine their own thoughts with firsthand accounts from players and coaches in real time as well as view secondary analyses from other sportswriters and insiders.

Twitter provides the avenue to discover what people are talking about, and for B/R writers struggling to find something to write about or searching for facts and viewpoints, there are few better tools than Twitter.

Embedding tweets into your articles is a great way to bolster your piece and continue the discussion, both in comment threads and on Twitter itself.

And because so many public figures, including athletes, are on Twitter, it has become a way for writers as well as fans to have better access to them. Many athletes speak for themselves on social media, meaning that as a sportswriter, you need not be in the locker room to hear what they have to say, nor do you have to wait for a reporter who is there to disseminate the quote.

I recently wrote an article about Brian Jennings, the longest-tenured San Francisco 49er, who was released just before the start of the regular season, and I decided to share my post on Twitter (something I hadn’t always done before).  I tagged Jennings in the post and he retweeted it, thanking me for the kind words, and followed me back.

Before Twitter, it was nearly impossible to interact with athletes or top media personnel on this level.

It was an awesome feeling to know that what I had written had not only been viewed by thousands of my fellow 49er fans, but the person the article was about had seen the piece and responded to it.

None of that would have been possible without Twitter.

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Peter Panacy is a 49ers Featured Columnist and is in the Fall class. Follow him on Twitter @PeterMcShots.

One Thing You Need to Know is a series in which we ask members of the Bleacher Report Advanced Program in Sports Media to write about just that: One thing they’ve learned that they would pass along to other aspiring writers.