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Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Kristof’

baquet twitterEditors who aren’t active on Twitter tell their newsrooms that we don’t all have to change. Journalists who aren’t active on Twitter choose to remain or fall behind.

I’m late to this round of a discussion that’s been going on intermittently since at least when I started advocating Twitter’s use by journalists in 2008. But I was tied up Monday when Mathew Ingram and some New York Times staffers discussed whether journalists need to use Twitter (on Twitter, of course). Ingram then blogged about the issue. The discussion was prompted by Buzzfeed’s  “Quick Tour Of The New York Times’ Twitter Graveyard,” which exposed and mocked some Times staffers for their weak presence on Twitter, including Executive Editor Dean Baquet, who has tweeted twice. Update: Baquet has responded to this post.

Baquet at least has a photo for his avatar. Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel showed 13 Times staffers’ accounts with Twitter’s generic egg avatar, which is like shouting, “Someone made me start a Twitter account! There, done!”

Before I continue my criticism of the Times, I should note that the Times has some outstanding Twitter users, too many to call out here, but I’ll just mention Nicholas Kristof  as an example of a Times staffer who would excel at his job without using Twitter but is even better at it because he excels at Twitter. On the whole, the Times is better than most newsrooms at using Twitter. But the Times never aspires just to be better than most. And the Times should aspire to be the best in its use of Twitter and any other valuable tool for journalists.

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Much of last week’s discussion of journalistic “branding” focused on whether journalists should engage in something that sounds so much like marketing.

In this post, I want to address how to develop a brand as a journalist (call it a reputation, if branding makes you uncomfortable). Toward the end of this post, I will discuss whether we should call this branding, but I’d like to focus initially on how to do it. I’ll make this point now: The opposite of brand is generic. And no one looking for a job wants to be generic, unless your strategy is to land a low-paying job.

At the risk of boasting (an area in which I am not risk-averse, but more on that later), I will discuss here specifically how I built my own brand as a journalist, and through my experience, how you can build your brand.

I will deliberately avoid repeating here any discussion from last week about Gene Weingarten’s humorous branding advice to journalism student Leslie Trew Magraw or the responses to him (including mine). This is about advice, not arguing. However, Gene is continuing that discussion in his weekly Chatological Humor chat today. (more…)

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First tweets tend to be pretty lame (mine was), often something like “trying to figure out this Twitter thing.”

Jennifer Preston of the New York Times got off to a better start, asking in her inaugural tweet Tuesday:

Hi, I’m the NYT’s new social media editor. More details later. How should @nytimes be using Twitter?

With 40 characters to spare, she identified herself clearly and started being social, starting to learn and preparing to teach, which is exactly what a new social media editor should do. I also like that she’s identifying herself in her profile as more than her job. She’s also a mother of twins, an author and a friend. It’s a nice contrast to the Wall Street Journal’s admonition against mixing personal and professional, which goes against the culture of the social media.

I’m pleased that The Gazette was several months ahead of the Times in designating a staff member to lead us into the social media. I appointed  Jamie Kelly our social media guide last summer.

I suspect Jamie was better qualified for his job than Preston. Unless she had a private Twitter account (I couldn’t find one) before Tuesday’s appointment, her first use of one of the most important and prominent social networks came after her new gig was announced Tuesday. She’s on LinkedIn (only 15 connections, though that will grow; she already has more than 3,000 Twitter followers) and Facebook, though we don’t know yet how much she has used either. I saw no sign of her on Flickr and didn’t check other social networks she might be on. Her social media education will be quite scrutinized. But on the other hand, not many of us are more than a year or two ahead of her. And as I wrote in a pair of posts early in my Twitter time, you learn quickly.

I responded immediately with a tweet  encouraging Preston to talk to Jamie and to check out my Twitter tips for editors and my post on journalism ethics in social networks. I meant to write a blog post offering lots of advice (as condescending as that sounds) to Preston, but two other bloggers (probably more, but I’ve seen these two), David Kaplan and Patrick Thornton, offered some really sound advice already (Preston already acknowledged Kaplan’s).

I’ll disagree with Patrick on one point: The nytimes Twitter feed has 946,401 followers (it grew by 2,000 from when I wrote the first draft of this post last night), just offering headlines and links. That’s giving a lot of tweeps something they want, so I wouldn’t mess with that. Patrick is right that you should be social in social media, and I encourage being more interactive with other Twitter profiles, but New York Times headlines and links obviously interest lots of people more than they do Patrick. So give those people what they want. And then follow the rest of Patrick’s advice.

Adam Darowski also offered (not directed at Preston, but valuable to her anyway) some helpful advice on “How To Use Twitter and not Be a Douchebag.” I tweeted a link to his piece and then was retweeted 11 times, which is a lot for me.

Rather than echoing or adding to the good advice offered already, I’ll weigh in with a review of Preston’s first 31 tweets (the most-watched Twitter debut since Oprah?):

  • She already has the hang of retweeting, echoing the advice offered to her by several tweeps and replying to more.
  • She understands the importance of links, passing along a link to Kaplan’s blog and to a list of Times Twitter feeds (another link she attempted to pass along was a busted link).
  • Preston understands the value of courtesy, thanking tweeps seven times for their help and praising suggestions she received.
  • She discussed the Times’ use of Twitter, mentioning that Andrew Sorkin had tweeted from an event.
  • She told us that she had attended a Twitter session by some Times colleagues. That would have been a great event for twittercasting (or a liveblog using Twitter feeds from her and other Times staffers attending). She got some advice in that session from Jennifer 8. Lee, whom I enjoy following.
  • She’s seeking (or listenting to) advice from veteran Twitterers, as she noted in thanking Mathew Ingram, communities editor at the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s Twittering journalism experts. I hope Preston also seeks advice from Times staffers Nicholas Kristof and David Pogue, two Twitterers I enjoy.
  • Preston converses with her tweeps, asking questions to seek clarification or elaboration (sometimes necessary with the 140-character limit).
  • She shows enthusiasm. I’d like to see more sense of humor, though that might be a bit of a challenge to the very serious culture of the New York Times (but it is the culture of social media). (Kristof shows some humor in his tweets, another reason for Preston to study his style and discuss his approach with him.)
  • She doesn’t regard social media as a 9-to-5 job. That tweet thanking Ingram was one of three she posted yesterday evening fairly late.

I hope Preston will lead a vigorous (and public) discussion of how the Times should use social media and what are Times standards regarding opinion, when and how to mix personal with public, etc.

Times ethical issues are aired publicly (Public Editor Clark Hoyt’s column Sunday examined issues dealing with perhaps the two biggest Times superstars, Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman). One of the greatest injustices in journalism ethics in recent years was that Rick Bragg was smeared in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal with a matter that was simply a case of changing standards. Bragg followed a common procedure of using stringers and got pilloried when the standard changed beneath him. We don’t want to see a quality Times journalist smeared by changing or unclear standards regarding social media.

I’m glad the New York Times is venturing into social media in such a public way. I hope @NYT_JenPreston and her colleagues share some valuable lessons with the rest of the industry as they are learning.

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