Twitter Courts Journalists

New site Twitter for Newsrooms offers tips for neophytes

In case there are any journalists out there still scratching their heads about Twitter, the company has announced a new website called Twitter for Newsrooms. But this is more than just an explanation of the social networking service—it could help Twitter to position itself as an essential tool for reporters and editors.

Twitter is already seen as a place where news breaks and where writers can build a following. If that trend continues, Twitter can make a persuasive argument that it's a major cultural force, even if there are still questions about its business model. And hey, as media scrutiny of the company grows, turning more reporters in to devoted Twitter users can't hurt.

Erica Anderson of Twitter's media team said the company has been trying to help reporters use Twitter for years. (Twitter says it started building out a team to work with media organizations back in 2009.) So it made sense to create a site with answers to the most common questions. Asked why these efforts are important for Twitter, Anderson said, "Helping journalists is a way to help the users, to help everyone that uses Twitter, understand the utility that's there for communication."

As for the actual content of the newsroom website, Twitter says it's a "cross-company collaboration" aimed at journalists of different generations, whether they're "native to the pilcrow" or "native to the hashtag." The tips and examples offered on the site cover reporting stories, engaging with readers, and connecting websites with Twitter. Among other things, Twitter for Newsrooms points to the company's newly-acquired TweetDeck app as an important tool for journalists, and it singles out a few services built by outside developers, such as Mass Relevance and Trendrr, as particularly useful.

Much of the advice is obvious, so experienced tweeters may not learn much — for example, TechCrunch's  Alexia Tsotsis suggested that since journalists who are already active on Twitter are the ones most likely to hear about Twitter for Newsrooms, there's a risk of preaching to the choir. That's a fair point, Anderson said, but she noted that Twitter is also reaching out to organizations like the Online News Association to spread the word. She added that Twitter for Newsrooms could become a resource for Twitter-savvy journalists who want to help their less knowledgeable colleagues by giving them a few handy links, rather than repeating the same explanations over and over.