Tag Archives: reporters

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.

How do the Web-savvy engage other reporters?

I’m well aware that there are journalists who simply don’t want to understand the Web and why it’s important.

But I believe there are a lot of journalists who are perfectly willing to learn more Web skills, if only the pitch was made to them in the right way. They don’t want to be forced into extra duties without any explanation, they don’t want to be looked down upon by some snotty recent graduate, and they don’t want editors talking over their head with tech jargon.

So what’s the right approach when trying to nudge your fellow journalists into trying new things online? I’d love to hear some success stories, because this is becoming a bigger focus for me in my newsroom.

A few of my initial thoughts:

  • Ditch the editors and outsiders. The training should come from previously capable reporters who can talk to the less-Web-savvy reporters on their own level.
  • Allow newsroom-wide access to the Web site’s statistics. Anyone who has written their own blog knows how intoxicating it is to see how many visitors you’re getting to your site, and where they’re coming from. It becomes more of a game with a quantifiable payoff.
  • Create incentives to learn new skills. If I ruled the world it would come in the form of bonuses.

Any more ideas, or techniques that have worked?