I don’t have time to write a thorough analysis of the new Twitter for Newsrooms guide that Twitter published yesterday for journalists, but I’ll share some initial observations.
The guide is helpful. It promotes Twitter’s Advanced Search, and it always surprises me how many journalists don’t know how to search to find tweets about the topics they are reporting on. The guide encourages journalists to use Topsy for archival search, which I had forgotten about (Twitter Search doesn’t go back more than about a week). The guide is worth a look, especially if you aren’t using Twitter much, and probably has a few helpful tips if you’re experienced with Twitter.
But frankly, I was disappointed with Twitter’s guide. It strikes me as more promotional than helpful (when being more helpful would actually be better promotion, especially with as tough a crowd as journalists). The guide promises “more to come,” which is good, because it’s light on tips for crowdsourcing, covering breaking news, verification and discussion of ethical issues. This should become a place for sharing case studies of how journalists use Twitter.
Rather than detail my criticism of #TfN, I will point to some resources for journalists that I think are more useful:
- Mandy Jenkins, my former TBD colleague (with whom I’m team-teaching a Georgetown University class on social media and reporting), has developed several outstanding resources for journalists using Twitter and other social media.
- John Robinson developed a great quick-start guide for editors using Twitter.
- Mindy McAdams added to John’s guide with Journalists: How to get started with Twitter.
- Knight Digital Media Center has a tutorial for journalists using Twitter (which I haven’t examined in detail, but on a quick run-through, I could see it was much more extensive and helpful than Twitter’s).
- Sree Sreenivasan’s @Sree’s Social Media Guide, which goes well beyond Twitter.
- I’m sure I’ve seen more valuable helps for journalists. I highlighted some in 2009 and put together a list of resources last year, though I don’t know how current they would be now. Please add any other helpful resources in the comments.
Twitter’s entry into the discussion of how journalists should use Twitter is welcome and overdue. I hope it catches up someday with the people who have been doing this for quite a while.
One thing I should note, though: The highlighting of Katie Couric as the first journalist under “Effective Tweeting” absolutely needed a disclosure that Erica Anderson, apparently one of the authors of #TfN (she signed the email announcing it to journalists), used to run Couric’s account. Plus, however well Anderson and her successor or any did, I question the highlighting here of someone who used a ghost writer.
Since I’m faulting Twitter for failing to disclose, I should disclose that I applied to work there a couple years ago (though my frequent posts since then encouraging Twitter use certainly demonstrate that I bear no grudge). I also was disappointed a few weeks ago that Anderson blew Mandy and me off when we asked her to be a guest speaker for our class by Skype. I think I’d need to highlight this oversight even if she had helped us out. (I’ve emailed her inviting comment; will add it if she responds.)