February 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM
For those of you who don't know me, seeing as it has been a while since my name has been featured in a byline, I'm Julia Kern, The Daily Collegian's social media manager. My job is to update the Collegian's Twitter and Facebook and monitor feedback -- meaning that almost all of what you see on social media from The Daily Collegian comes from me.
Almost immediately after @DailyCollegian began tweeting from Jerry Sandusky's hearing Friday, we were inundated with replies - not regarding the content of the updates or the hearing itself, but about the way we were denoting the tweets.
@cmspearman said: "Is it just me that is annoyed that the hashtag has been psucharges? Shouldn't it be like #sanduskyscandal?"
@solightisvanity said: "It's agreed: stop using #psucharges. Sandusky is the villain here."
Many others expressed similar sentiments -- and it's a question that's been raised since charges were filed against former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky three months ago -- so I figured I would elaborate on the origin and decision to continue using #PSUCharges. (Worth noting: Onward State also commented on the use of #PSUCharges in a post that can be found here.)
It's important to bear in mind that, on Twitter, a hashtag serves to provide a touchstone for all news pertaining to one central topic, whether that's a football game, a political race, or a broader, ongoing story such as this one.
For several reasons, local media decided to use this hashtag to refer to news pertaining to the case and related issues involving other major university figures, student reactions, effects on the borough of State College and effects on the Penn State community at large.
For one, some alleged incidents connected to Sandusky's charges took place on Penn State property, according to court documents. But also, following the release of the first grand jury presentment in November, it has become clear that this story stretches beyond Sandusky to include other Penn State officials.
Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz have been charged with perjury in connection with this case. Within days, former Penn State President Graham Spanier and former head football coach Joe Paterno were removed from their respective positions, decisions that have been cited to be related to the announced charges.
As the story garnered more and more local and national attention, #PSUCharges became the shortest and most succinct way to encapsulate all of the various players and events associated with this ongoing story.
Now, tweets from different points in time and different users - including not only Penn Staters, but also people across the country who are now following this story - can now be easily searched, located and linked by searching #PSUCharges. Anyone who might not be familiar with the big picture, or even someone who might want to catch up on past events, can more easily do so because of the way the tweets are cataloged.
So while an event such as Sandusky's hearing regarding his bail conditions on Friday might have seemed to be solely about Sandusky, and didn't feature testimonies from other Penn State officials, that hearing is part of a greater story that was branded as #PSUCharges since the Grand Jury report was released in November.
To change the #PSUCharges hashtag to #Sandusky or #SanduskyCharges would be to implicitly go against the nature of the case, which, as noted above, is multi-faceted and involves more than one individual.
Comments? I'd love to hear from you. Contact me at email@example.com or @juliakern.