Newsroom Twitter Tips

Should you use Twitter? What can it do for your newsroom? Why are places like The Philadelphia Inquirer offering staff seminars about social media? (The Inquirer used Twitter to scoop competitors on a corruption trial.)

Some more pieces of evidence: The Chicago Tribune masthead emphasized Twitter addresses for one day. The New York Times has one main Twitter account @nytimes and it has more than 350,000 followers. A couple of dozen related NYTimes newsroom accounts have smaller audiences — @NYTimesOpinion, for example, has 800 plus followers — but the aggregate audience size is meaningful.

Newspapers as small as the News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., find Twitter useful for distributing and gathering news. Meg Thilmony, a writer and innovation leader at the News-Gazette, wrote these Twitter tips for the newsroom, including two search tips:

* using
search.twitter.com – search things like “Champaign,” “Urbana” or
the communities you cover. You can also find people talking about
these communities – lots of alums tweeted things like “Going
to the football game” over UI's homecoming weekend.
* trying
other search tools. Newspaper reporter Daniel Victor, who works for
The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., suggests Twitterlocal.net. It
allows you to see the latest local tweets or sign up for an RSS feed
of these. He also uses tweetscan.com to search for people discussing
or tweeting from his location.

Here's a direct link to the Twitter search page: http://search.twitter.com/search.

I recently sent a note to Forbes reporters about shortening url's:

When circulating url's, it's often easier to use a
web-based program that shortens our long url's into something that can
fit in a short message. Tinyurl.com, shorturl.com, and snurl.com all
produce shorter substitute url's. I like tr.im, which has a log-in
option that allows you to track traffic to the substitute url.

One word of caution that I included:

Many of the people you interview use Twitter, too, and
are very likely to tell the world that they just spoke with a Forbes
reporter. Two examples from this evening:
pencilbugs — 1 interview with @wayneliew via a chat session which was
totally fun. 1 interview with a Forbes writer on the phone.

–and–
collegeadvice: I just got a call from Forbes Magazine; did an interview
about college admissions craze; April 1 around the corner. What will
headline be?

A year from now, I'll examine the evidence again. It should be clear by March 2010 if this is a passing fad or an important tool.

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