Twitter: An Invaluable Tool for Journalism

While Twitter was, first and foremost, an explosive online fad embraced mostly by teenagers and media pop-culture enthusiasts, it has now become a beneficial tool for journalists today.

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In addition to highlighting the newest Justin Bieber single or movie premiere, Twitter provides a network of information, sources, and contacts ready for the gathering.  Journalists such as Anderson Cooper, Barbara Walters, and Katie Couric have been taking advantage of Twitter’s potential by exploring the opportunities the social media site has to offer.

Twitter Journalism is a blog that focuses on the impact of Twitter on the field of journalism.  It provides tips, how to’s, and news on the subject.  In one particular post on the blog, Rebecca Fiorentino, a graduate student at DePaul University, discusses three tips/reasons journalists have turned to Twitter and how they benefit:

1.) Finding News.  Because Twitter is literally updated even as you read this, news breaks hit Twitter hard and fast.  Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, in an interview with the Huffington Post’s Rory O’Connor, used the news of the tremors in California in 2009 as an example.  “The first Twitter report of the ground shaking during recent tremors in California…came nine minutes before the first Associated Press alert,” Stone said. 

Staying up-to-date with news on Twitter also helps journalists predict what that means for the news of tomorrow.

2.) Networking.  Every Monday between 7 and 10 p.m. central time, journalists “gather” together on Twitter via the hashtag #journchat to talk anything and everything news, journalism, etc.  They can discuss recent news events, trends in journalism, ethics, anything.  This also helps journalists find other people of note, news sources, and fellow journalists to follow and helps them gain more followers.

(Want to scope out some journalism on Twitter? Try @nytimes, Muck Rack, or @washingtonpost for starters.)

3.) Self-promotion.  Journalists can get their name out there by posting links to articles, blogs, and the publications they work for.  But in addition to advertising their work, they can also create an online personality and gain a following.  By showing some character – like cheering for a certain sports team or posting a photo of a pet – journalists seem less distant, more human and, thus, more likeable.

Much like a notepad and a pen, a Twitter account is rapidly becoming a ‘must-have’ for a journalist.  So what do you think about journalism diving headfirst into the online word of Twitter?  Do you think there are any potential downsides to this growing trend?

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4 Responses to Twitter: An Invaluable Tool for Journalism

  1. hildebak says:

    This is very true. I finally joined twitter over the summer, and the only people I follow are journalists. It’s unbelievable how up-to-the-minute it makes news.

    • elmquikl says:

      Same here – I typically hear about major news on Twitter long before I read about it in the paper or hear it on the news. With Twitter at the fingertips of people all over the world – and updated every second of every day – it really is the most up-to-date news source there is (reliability, however, is another issue entirely!)

      • brandileigh1025 says:

        I never started using Twitter until last week or so. It was a little confusing for me at first but it really does keep me in the loop with everything that has been going on lately. Great post by the way.

  2. loeffegm says:

    I’ve been following Twitter for about 6 months. Most of the people I follow are celebrities I’m interested in, a few of my favorite TV shows, and a select few businesses. It is not uncommon for me to get continuous updates about a show that is airring it’s newest episode to get some excitement going, but sometimes it’s just too much for me. However, I do enjoy getting up-to-date news and celebrity gossip.

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