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Commentary: New rule: Take time to take in the tweets

Illinois junior Joseph Bertrand leaps over Georgia Tech's Marcus Georges-Hunt as Daniel Miller (5) unsuccessfully tries to block his layup during the Illini's 75-62 Wednesday night in Champaign.
Illinois junior Joseph Bertrand leaps over Georgia Tech's Marcus Georges-Hunt as Daniel Miller (5) unsuccessfully tries to block his layup during the Illini's 75-62 Wednesday night in Champaign.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, I was reminded that, no matter how busy I am at work, I need to budget enough time to play on Twitter.

Social media gets a bad rap, what with kids brandishing smart phones in the hallways of even the smallest, most podunk-ish schools across the nation.

But Twitter’s value pretty much reached through my laptop’s screen and slapped me when I flopped down on my couch at about 1:30 a.m.

It was at that hour that a veritable fleet of little birdies told me what Sterling product Joseph Bertrand done gone and did. The latest in a series of #JoeTales made me facepalm, knowing we’d missed a golden opportunity.

After the staff relentlessly cranked on Thursday’s sprawling, 12-page sports section, I unwound by enjoying a barley pop with sports writer Brian Weidman. We chatted with the official bartender of the SVM sports staff, Jeremy Shippert, and he told us all about the incredibly athletic play Bertrand pulled off against Georgia Tech. The play ultimately landed the third spot on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays.

(Insider’s note: The gravity-defying feat just might be enough leverage for us sports folk to convince the company to invest in cable so that we have important games glowing above the corral. Wink, wink.)

I was distantly aware of the play. In searching the Associated Press’ slim offering of photos of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game, I found one of Joseph appearing to commit a charge – albeit an improbably elevated one – while driving to the iron.

It was a cool photo. When I got home and opened my Twitter account? Not so cool.

I saw Illini players (most frequently Maui Invitational MVP Brandon Paul), myriad local products, current students and a general hodgepodge of folks who simply call northwestern Illinois home. They were all tweeting about the layup, which included a rather humbling application of a certain part of Joseph’s anatomy to the chin of Georgia Tech’s Marcus Georges-Hunt.

The hashtag accompanying most of the tweets? #JoeTales. Despite Joseph not even having his own Twitter account, the hashtag dedicated to him trended worldwide for a few glorious hours last night.

Folks, Twitter is where the bulk of these tales are being told these days. While the charm of social media is immediacy, hop on a computer and pop that hashtag into the search bubble. Prepare to be entertained – not to mention feel your heart warmed as those who grew up near you and far away from you laud Joseph for being a keystone in the Illini’s incredible start.

Bottom line? We missed the boat. It’s not a yacht, but it’s still a boat. In this day and age, we simply can’t afford to not tie our online product and personalities into our print product.

I’m not saying SVM photographer Phil Marruffo’s tweet atop the Telegraph’s Page B1 about enjoying college hoops without Dick Vitale wasn’t priceless. Nor was Sterling senior Alexis Strong’s Nostrodamus-like tweet atop the Gazette B1 about Duke’s comeback-to-be.

But there was a veritable cornucopia of Joseph goodness circulating like wildfire. And I missed it, because I scrolled a few hours back to make sure I had the full scope of the day’s tweets. Rushed by workload, I settled for the first clever things I could find.

Lesson learned. The very purpose of social media is immediacy. Next time, I’ll start from the top.

When I first arrived here, I was told no one used Twitter. Thanks, Twitterverse, for proving the theory wrong.

And for those who shared that notion, it’s time to catch on. Whatever program you graduated from, subscribe to, apologize for, bleed for … we’re covering them like never before.

In the morning, read about the big picture. But right now, don’t miss out on what just happened.

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