Friday, July 17, 2009...1:17 pm

8 reasons why journalists love Twitter…

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…much more than real people do
For some reason journalists have grabbed hold of Twitter as a starving man does a ham sandwich. But why? What is it about this slightly clunky, limited, and frankly difficult to negotiate web tool that we love so much?
Here are a few thoughts…

  1. You can build up a seemingly huge following – as if you’ve got a big audience and are tweeting to thousands (Paul Bradshaw has 6733!). But the reality is relatively few are likely to be reading any one post. Just like newspapers!
  2. It makes us feel all cutting edge –sending 140-character messages is just like SMS! Which the kids use! And using Twitpic turns it into picture messaging!
  3. It’s really quick and easy – spot a link while you’re web-surfing during a five-minute break and you can post it to Twitter in about 30 seconds. Do this two or three times an hour and you can look like a productive communications machine, while putting in less effort than going to make a cup of tea. Ooh – I just did one!
  4. It requires almost no effort or thought – look at all those Tweets with a more or less pithy comment and a link to someone else’s hard work and research. Now that’s the journalistic ideal –leaving much more time to go to the bar.
  5. The media loves it – which means if you Twitter on about the media, you be followed by loads of people in the media, who will Twitter about you Twittering about them. It’s the ultimate in networking!
  6. It’s the ultimate low-effort research tool – journalists these days seem to think research begins and ends with a Google search, which is why Twitter is a godsend for us. Use a search tool like TweetFeed and you can create your own Twitter stream of themed posts. Just pick your topic: Iranian election; Afghanistan; banking bailout, or – best of all – Twitter itself. It’s like instant research, but you don’t have to do any work!
  7. It’s totally open – unlike, say, Facebook, where you have to actually ask to get in touch each time you want to stalk research people. Unless it’s the wife of “C”. Which was a bit weird.
  8. It’s HUGE – excitingly leaked documents published by Techcrunch reveal that Twitter will have 1 billion users by 2013! That’s nearly everyone in the world [subs: pls chk]. In fact, no one will be doing anything else by then, so journalists have to get in on the ground floor!

In short, Twitter is like real journalism – but without the work. Now let me get out of this long-form blogging hell and Tweet something…


  • how can news outlets make money out of it? might be great for communication and democracy…but as jouranlists, surely we need to come up with ways to keep ourselves in business, putting food on our tables? selling newspapers does that. does twitter?
    agree about it being good for finding stories, sources, tips etc.

  • Actually my tongue’s kind of in my cheek for this one. I’m just amused by how much the media seems to love Twitter and talks about it out of all proportion to the interest the wider public shows in it.
    I don’t think newspapers can make money out of it. In fact, I’m not sure that Twitter can make money out of it – though it seems to think it can now.
    But it’s a useful and free platform for spreading information around.

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