Monday, November 18, 2013

Reporters Prefer Twitter

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post’s WonkBlog wrote an interesting piece this week on why journalists prefer Twitter to Facebook.

He laid out what many of us know, that Facebook as still much larger and on a more steady growth trend than Twitter or just about any other social media channel.  Yet, when we turn on our televisions, read news reports or listen to news, it seems that the social media driving force behind much news is Twitter.

It appears that regardless of the news story, reporters are now including reference to public reaction to the situation at hand by reporting on how Twitter users are reacting to the news.  Twitter, in effect, becomes part of the story.

Not only that, but it seems reporters and their employers are some of the most active users of Twitter, from both an output standpoint and a monitoring perspective.

Klein makes it clear: “…journalists – and quite often, the organizations that employ them – clearly prefer Twitter.”

But why?

He says that “Twitter is simply more useful for our jobs.”

This makes sense. Twitter is a structured news feed of sorts without all the extra information on users and their social life you might find on a typical Facebook page.  And it’s much more time-sensitive than both Facebook and LinkedIn. 

While posts on other social media channels may have longer shelf lives, a Twitter post may be only of relevance for less than a few seconds.  For example, when a sports reporter tweets, “If they miss this field goal they lose the game.”

In itself, such a tweet is meaningless, but that’s not how the media sees Twitter.  The media likes it because it’s a barometer of public opinion streaming in real time.

Plus, when news breaks, Twitter is a way to get inside information as it happens.  If there is a mall shooting, the media watches Twitter for tweets from people still inside the mall.  If a CEO is conducting a big press conference, reporters tweet snippets of the event in real time, all as part of the larger mosaic of coverage.

Then there is the final product.  Klein believes Twitter’s value is tied to the fact other journalists are reading their work.  He writes, “Tweeting your articles ensures they’re seen – and discussed, and retweeted – within a community that includes not just your friends and peers, but the people who might hire you someday.”

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