Thursday, July 7, 2011

Twitter for Newsrooms

Twitter for Newsrooms (#TfN) was launched last week. Although I’m still skeptical about Twitter as a global newsroom and how some use it for dissemination of real news, I’m hoping this site will go a long way in legitimizing it. The site highlights best practices and streamlines resources with the goal of making it a more efficient news-gathering tool. This may also make some or most of the info offered here redundant for reporters who are already well-versed in using social media in their reporting. Ideally, it will ensure that if Twitter is to continue being taken seriously by news consumers, certain standards need to be upheld.

Broken down into four areas, TfN covers Reporting (effective search methods, setting up a search for up-to-the-minute updates on a certain topic, an archive of older Tweets), Engaging (examples of how veteran reporters and journos are sharing news through Twitter and connecting with their audience), Publishing (a plugin that allows reporters to embed Tweets in HTML, how to document Tweets in your story), and Extras (links and resources).

Who knows, the site might just surprise some of the reporters who think they’ve got Twitter all figured out. Included on the site is an Advanced Twitter Search that allows you to search by sentiment, a specific location, and time period, etc. According to, it had been possible to search by sentiment, but the tool was not readily accessible prior to the launch of TfN. Examples of reporters who are doing it right on Twitter are especially intriguing to me. Ann Curry, John Steltner, and Katie Couric are designated as Twitter superstars and TfN tells you why.

Justin Ellis at the Neiman Journalism Lab made an interesting point last week: “Twitter for Newsrooms has some commonalities with Facebook + Journalists, which similarly is a resource for helping reporters and editors navigate the new world of social-assisted journalism. But the two resources also seem to share a common wisdom: that it’s time to take back control of the expertise and resource market.” If that works, I’ll be much more confident about journalists coming to rely more and more on social media for their news-gathering. But that hinges on reporters doing due diligence and not getting sucked into a warp-speed news cycle. Standards need to be high, and most importantly, sources need to be credible.

Another positive aspect of this site is that it will be open to suggestions from users. Love that.

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