How journalists use Twitter

Twitter allows reporters to monitor their beats around the clock, says Alecia Swasy in a new post at Poynter. A final look at Twitter before bedtime has become a must for many journalists.

Rather than the old-fashioned fear of “don’t scoop yourself on Twitter,” she found a new attitude: “If you don’t have it on Twitter first, it’s not a scoop.”

Swasy “spent about two years researching and interviewing 50 journalists at four metropolitan papers”: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, and the Tampa Bay Times. 

“One of the most interesting things I found was Twitter’s emergence as the new phone directory. Consider the decline of landline telephones, and the subsequent death of the community white pages. A school reporter in Dallas used Twitter to find students and parents by searching key words on the latest buzz in the schoolyard. … [S]he used Twitter to track down the news about a Dallas teacher being fired because she once posed for Playboy. The reporter also used Twitter to confirm the teacher’s identity — and to find her.”

Breaking local news on Twitter means more social capital for reporters, Swasy found. It can also expand their readership outside the local area, as it did for the Tampa Bay Times’s Craig Pittman, whose Twitter presence led to a Slate blog and a book deal, she says.

It’s not that Twitter alone can make your career — each journalist Swasy interviewed “emphasized that the main thing that will attract readers is producing credible content,” she wrote.

For more about Swasy’s findings, be sure to read her post at Poynter.


Don’t let this happen to you!

This is what’s called a public relations nightmare — when someone inside your company does something so boneheaded, your whole company is deeply embarrassed.

Read the full story (and check out a really nice example of aggregation as storytelling too):

So this example is not at all about data security — this is just an example of someone who had legitimate access to the DiGiorno Pizza Twitter account being totally clueless and not doing “due diligence” before he or she tweeted! Doh!!

A live-tweeting example

In case you missed it: Daniel Moran and Damaris were live-tweeting the interviews of the two finalists for the office of UF president on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Here is a Storify of their tweets. Note the high numbers of RTs and faves on some of these!

Note that a crucial moment was the announcement of the new president, which came very swiftly after the interviews ended.

Photo below: A great shot by Damaris!

Two interesting examples (not from class)

I was on Storify for something else and saw these two things:

NPR made a Storify that they apparently updated throughout the Scotland voting. Several of you who were doing the NPR assignment noticed that NPR got very low engagement on tweets, Facebook posts, etc., that were about Scotland. I thought, well, I guess Americans don’t really care about Scotland.

And yet, this Storify got nearly 42,000 views. Not too shabby.

On Tuesday we will talk a bit about crowdsourcing as a journalism practice. In this Storify, Melody Kramer (a digital editor at NPR), explains with tweets how Twitter may have helped track down the suspects from a police surveillance video.


Oh, number of views on that second Storify? 349,692 so far.

Class update for week of Sept. 8–12

Mark your calendars for Thursday night next week: Mark Little of Storyful (note: not Storify) will be speaking in Gannett Auditorium in Weimer Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. (Sept. 18).

Check him out on Twitter: @marklittlenews 

He founded a unique company that finds and verifies social media produced by all kinds of people — not news organizations — and often licenses that content for sale to news organizations. It was quite an original idea, which is why Mark was invited to be the first speaker in our college’s Innovators Series.

Extra credit will be given to any student who live-blogs Mark’s talk using the hashtag #smmuf — figure out how to do it well, and you can earn some juicy points.

Coming up Thursday: Guest speaker Jeff Huffman will illuminate us about more inside workings of the INC. Details on the Course Schedule. 

Things I highlighted in class on Tuesday:

The NPR assignment is linked on the Course Schedule. Check your deadline there by opening the grid I showed in class. The date at the top of the column is the LAST DAY of your week. You have a deadline EACH DAY for five days in a row. The assignment explains all of it, so please read it carefully — and of course, ASK ME if anything is unclear. You’ll be getting a pass/fail grade EACH DAY, so any day you miss is a zero. Jordan, Jose and Olivia start this week. 

Quote from Lauren McCullough:

“I think many journalists balk at the open-ended challenge of creating their personal Twitter strategy. What works for one journalist won’t work for another. In those first daunting days, it can be tough to see the eventual benefits.”

Make sure you have read the list of five concrete lessons from highly-followed journalists on Twitter.