Before I get to anything that may come across as negative, let me say that I follow lots of people who work in at my local paper, The Knoxville New Sentinel. And there’s one huge reason I follow them…
They are engaging.
(I’m going to go ahead and get my #followfriday in now so you can follow some of these cool folks. Like I said, they are engaging, so you don’t have to be local to enjoy following them. So check out @jigsha, @jacklail, @michaelsilence, @randomchick, @knoxgirl75, @sugirly, and no telling how many others I’m forgetting)
I don’t follow them to get links to articles posted in the paper. There are several RSS feeds for that, and I only subscribe to one. I didn’t realize what sets these folks apart from our local television stations until I read a comment from @cathymccaughan on this post from the other day—they don’t tweet their headlines.
I’m not following a bot that spits out tweets every time an article is published. I’m following people. Disclaimer–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a Twitter account for a newspaper or blog that does nothing but spit out tweets on publish, but that’s not where it should end. “Being on Twitter” just isn’t good enough in the long term. For instance, @newstechzilla sends out a tweet every time we publish, but it’s not really engaging. It’s just a 140 character RSS feed. To converse, you need to follow @sadcox or @newscoma. And (surprise, surprise) we don’t spend the whole day talking about journalism and technology. But we are engaging. Well, Trace is anyway.
Now, having said all that, Michael Silence has been doing something lately that I think is pretty interesting in his KNS blog. He’s been giving us previews of upcoming op/ed pieces and letters to the editor. I think this approach plays well on Twitter as well.
If there is a Twitter account that covers the entire newsroom, here’s something to think about. Instead of tweeting out headlines of completed and published stories, how about giving me the confirmed facts of a story an hour before it’s published? Let me follow it’s development real time and see the finished product on the site and/or feed. How about engaging me?
Not only will I get the facts as they are developing (which I can usually get from a less-authoritative tweeter anyway), but there’s a good chance I’ll be impressed with the skillful way it was pulled together for the end product.
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- Is Twitter Doomed?