Beyond Twitterfeed: Innovative uses of Twitter in the newsroom

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As many newsrooms have discovered, Twitter is a great way to break news as it happens and to share stories with a large audience as they are made available. However, many news organizations fall into the trap of simply posting links to stories with no context and no interaction with their followers, thereby turning Twitter into a glorified RSS feed. That is the old media way of disseminating the news, one that won’t survive. What follows are examples of newsrooms embracing Twitter as a new media, Web 2.0 way of spreading and sharing the news and listening in return.

One of the simplest ways to increase reporter interaction with communities is to sign up as many as are willing for Twitter and have them cover and share news on their beat with Twitter followers. In order to make it easier for readers to find their favorite reporters, many news organizations, including the Austin American-Statesman, Cincinnati Enquirer, Grand Island Independent, and Des Moines Register (pictured below) have set up landing pages for potential followers to find every tweeting journalist or news section in one place.

NBC4 Columbus takes the landing page a step further by also showcasing tweets about the city that aren’t necessarily directed to the news staff, in addition to recent tweets from anchors, reporters and staff. The Telegraph has reversed the notion, by displaying Twitterfall, an online interface for viewing recent tweets, on a large screen in its newsroom.

Many traditional and nontraditional news outlets have also embraced Twitter as a means of crowdsourcing, or gathering information from the community on a story or topic. Twitter makes it easy to ask questions of many people at one time who may have information that would have otherwise gone unheard. 10,000 Words has done so for several posts, including this one and this one. ReadWriteWeb explains how they crowdsource in the post “How We Use Twitter for Journalism”.

Sites like TweetBeep, which provides alerts based on keywords selected by the user, can also be used to stay on top of breaking news as it happens on Twitter. If you’re looking for news on a specific area, CityTweets aggregates Twitter mentions of various cities around the world in one place. Breaking Tweets is also worth a look — the news site is powered by information and photos shared on Twitter.

Because the journalism conference season is coming up, it would be interesting to see something like this, a list of attendees who are on Twitter (looking at you @ONA09). With so many seminars and happenings being shared on Twitter at SXSW for example, it would be useful to have those names on hand to increase interaction among attendees.

You can find even more ways to merge Twitter and journalism in the comments section of this Online Journalism Blog post and this post by Meranda Watling.

It’s time to turn off Twitterfeed, and embrace Twitter’s many uses for many improving journalism. For a list of newspapers on Twitter, check out this exhaustive list and also ReporTwitters, a collection of online journalists using Twitter as a tool for innovation.


Also on 10,000 Words

10 Journalists you should follow on Twitter
Twitter for journalists: What you need to know
The top 7 mistakes new Twitter users make
How to analyze your Twitter followers and friends

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