American Journalism Review writes about reporters on Twitter

Here’s a nice story by Laurie White for the American journalism Review: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet. Scroll down about halfway and you’ll see me quoted in this story about reporters who use Twitter.

Daniel Victor (@bydanielvictor), a reporter at the Harrisburg Patriot-News, says he was originally a Twitter skeptic, but is now a major fan. One of the more prolific tweeters at the ONA conference, he says he uses the service routinely to find stories.

“I use a combination of TwitterLocal and Tweetscan to find people from Harrisburg/Hershey,” he says, referring to third-party applications that allow searches of Twitter by topic and geographic location.

Victor never asks Twitter users he finds through these applications for story ideas. Instead, he finds them in their “normal conversation.”

“The key is, I don’t treat my Twitter account like I’m a reporter-bot,” he says. “I’m a full member of the community who goes to bars and tweets about the Eagles’ game just like them.”

She did a nice job with it, so there’s not too much to add. In case anyone doubts it, yes, I was very much a Twitter skeptic at first.

And though I certainly Tweeted a lot during ONA, everyone there knows Greg Linch was by far the most prolific. He easily wins the crown.

Laurie asked me if anyone has ever felt uneasy knowing they’re being followed by a reporter. I told her it’s only happened once (that I know of), and I offered to unfollow him.

I could be wrong, but I suspect no one feels uncomfortable with my presence because: A) They’re not going to Tweet about anything too scandalous anyway, and B) I’ve made clear that I’m a full participant instead of just some guy mining for stories. That’s why I made the reporter-bot comment…I am indeed a real person enjoying the community there as much as anyone else.

And these aren’t elected officials and campaigners hanging out on Twitter, these are everyday people who will occasionally lead me to interesting features. Or, for one or two of them, they’ve enjoyed having access to a reporter so they can send in a meatier story tip.

Even outside of the local users, I often find my ideas sharper once I bounce them around the global network of journalists I’ve built.

It’s great having that out-of-the-building network, both locally and globally. And for some of us, it’s even pretty fun.

Hopefully you’ll follow me if you’re not already.

  • Will you come work for my paper please? πŸ™‚ I thought your contribution to the article was great, and as I’m discovering, it definitely is important to not sound like a bot when tweeting the news.

  • Greg is great. He and I tag-teamed the Society of Professional Journalists annual meeting in Atlanta in early Sept.

    I think we started the conference with just five people tweeting and by the end we had 20-30 people on board.

    See #spj08 (or search for that) to see what we were talking about.

    As a tool to find stories and connect with people it’s great. But sometimes it’s info and blather overload when an outlet uses a feed as the news itself. CNN is walking a fine line with their Tweet Crawl.

    I’m interested to see what transpires as people tweet the debates and the election.


    @jeffcutler on Twitter
    of just go read my stuff at

  • You guys have got me blushing over here. Thanks for the kind words!

    Twitter tag teams rock and Jeff and Daniel are great tweeters to have on your team.

  • Daniel,

    In addition to getting news tips, I’m curious to know if you have ever actually watched a news story change or take shape over a period of time on Twitter. That would be kind of cool if you have, I think–but I wonder if Twitter has reached that level of development yet.

  • Awesome Daniel.

    Honest question: What got you on twitter first? I’m trying to remember if it was a result of when I was on the beat blogging blog. Either way – you rock for rocking the twitter.

  • I have a columnist for a mother-in-law. There are very few people who could now make me feel self-conscious or wonder whether something I said or wrote would turn up as “material”.

    (Note to self: Don’t Tweet or blog about mother-in-law) πŸ˜‰