Twitter ain't Journalism: The Sun's Matt Bendoris speaks out

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Matt Bendoris is Chief Feature Writer at The Scottish Sun newspaper. He was one of Scotland's later journalists to take to online but isn't shy about using technology. His debut novel, Killing With Confidence, was written completely on a BlackBerry on train trips.

Here he talks the future of online journalism and passes on some tips to the next generation...

Your novel deals with reporters who get material the old-fashioned way and don't do too much digitally. Do you think there's a danger of journalists losing the people skills that are a vital part of the job and think taking something off the likes of Facebook suddenly counts as getting insight?

Yes. There of course needs to be a mix. But spending your days just rewriting celebrity Tweets ain’t journalism.

You were one of the later journalists to have his material appear online and be on Twitter. How have you found it – is it something you welcome for sharing your work, indifferent to it or something that's been a pain?

My experience hasn’t been overly positive. I appreciate the ‘breaking news’ element of it, but there’s a lot of waffle and abuse. Where’s the debate? I thought this sort of connectivity would expand the horizons. But it seems to have given the keyboard warriors a bigger platform.

We see a lot of talk now about reporters having to video interviews as well as going along with the traditional pen and paper. Is this a good thing or bad thing in your opinion and experience?

I think videoing little messages to the readers is fine, but I am yet to be convinced of the benefits of taping and posting whole interviews. Also, I am a writer, not a TV presenter, nor do I want to be one.

In this brave new world of online journalism, what would be your advice to up and coming reporters?

Embrace it. It’s the future…as soon as someone works out how to make money from it.

You wrote a book on a BlackBerry. That can't have been much fun to do. Why did you do that instead of just having a laptop like a sensible person would have done – and have your thumbs recovered yet? How long did it take to do the first draft on a BlackBerry?

All good points. I must be aff ma heid. The truth is I like how instantaneous the BlackBerry is. You don’t have to wait for it to boot up and most importantly on an often overcrowded train (return from Croy To Queen St) you don’t need a table. You just write. I could do about 500 words on each 15 minute trip. I have the thumbs of an 80 year old.

Obviously many people go all their days without seeing a book published but having had this one get out, will you be writing the rest on your BlackBerry? Is it your lucky charm?

Yes, while I am still in gainful employment at The Scottish Sun and continuing to take the Croy to Queen St, it’ll BB all the way (well, until the editing process. Then I use a laptop. I’m not really insane).

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