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I must admit that when we were told to start using Twitter I wasn’t very excited.  I always felt that the concept was kind of silly.  To me, Twitter seemed like a simpler, knock-off version of Facebook.  Plus, none of my close friends use Twitter, so it seemed pretty useless for me to set up an account.  However, after using Twitter for a few months, I can see why journalists think it is a vital reporting tool.

There are several obvious uses of Twitter for journalists and news organizations.  For example, reporters and news organizations can use Twitter to get tips.  During my internship at seattlepi.com this quarter, Humberto Martinez, the former Hot Topics blogger saw a tweet that claimed rapper and TV personality Flavor Flav was at Westlake Mall, so he rushed down there to get the story.  Furthermore, I saw the P-I, and many other news organizations that I began following, use Twitter to promote their site.  When the P-I was one of the first Seattle news organizations to post that Ken Griffey Jr. was retiring from the Mariners, the staff immediately tweeted a link to its article.

Lastly, categorizing tweets by hashtags is extremely helpful.  Journalists can get ideas for articles by either seeing what’s trending, or they can find a lot of information about a topic by seeing what people have tweeted about it all over the world. Traditional journalists were able to get information about the war in Mumbai and write stories via Twitter hashtags.

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This week I decided to look at who some of the amazing journalists I’m following are following and steal a few goodies from their lists.  Here’s who I came up with:

@karentravers – bio: ABC News White House Reporter, Philly sports fan, Gtown Hoya

@steveosunsami – bio: ABC News Correspondent

@mfleischner – bio: Search Engine Optimization Expert and Internet Marketing Professional

@lisastark – bio: ABC News Correspondent

@ezraklein – bio: Blogger for the Washington Post, columnist for Newsweek. Eater of food. Hater of filibuster. Lover of charts.

Recently on Twitter I have been scouting out reporters from major newspapers checking out how they use it to promote their publication.  This week I chose to look at one of the most well-known papers in the United States – The LA Times.

@LATimesFood – bio: News, recipes + reviews from the LA Times Food staff, test kitchen + Daily Dish blog, by @renelynch.

@LATimestravel – bio: The LA Times Travel crew curate tips + deals for a restless Tweetosphere: latimes.com/travelblog. See @latimestweets for more news + features streams.

@LATimesSports –  bio: National + SoCal sports news feed from the LA Times + latimes.com. Follow the Fabulous Forum blog at @latsportsblog. See latimes.com/twitter for more news.

@LATimesHealth – bio: Current health + medical news from the Los Angeles Times + latimes.com. See latimes.com/twitter for more news + features streams.

@LATimescitydesk – bio: Nita Lelyveld, @latimes metro features editor, aims to keep you up to date on LA news, with hand-selected updates throughout the day. DM story ideas/feedback.

The San Francisco Chronicle is another online newspaper that is experimenting with new designs and features to try and get a hold on the new journalism market.  I am often on its site, and I’ve always enjoyed its layout and simplicity.  I thought this week I’d check out how its reporters are using Twitter to direct readers to the site.

@Hawaii_Insider – bio: SFGate.com’s Aloha Friday columnist and Hawaii Insider blogger; former SF Chronicle Travel editor; lover of hula and all things Hawai’i.

@peterhartlaub – bio: Peter Hartlaub is the pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, reviews movies and video games and is founder/editor of the parenting blog The Poop.

@hankschulman – bio: Giants beat writer, San Francisco Chronicle

@JohnKingSFChron – bio: San Francisco Chronicle’s Urban Design Critic, looking at places and cityscapes as well as capital A Architecture.

@jbonne – bio: Wine Editor, SF Chronicle

This week I decided to start following some journalists at one of the most successful newspapers in the country – The New York Times.  I’m sure they have a lot of wisdom to share.

1. @JamesEstrin – blogger and editor

bio: New York Times Lens Blog Editor and Senior Staff Photographer

2. @KSchulten – blogger and editor

bio: former h.s. teacher and literacy consultant, now editor of the New York Times Learning Network blog. (Follow the blog’s tweets at nytimeslearning.)

3. @davidjoachim – editor

bio: Banking editor at The New York Times

4. @NYTimesRich – columnist

bio: Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times

5. @NYTimesFriedman – columnist

bio: NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lexus and the Olive Tree and From Beirut to Jerusalem.

I intern at the Seattle P-I so I’m always around the reporters there.  Naturally, when I first started a Twitter account, I started following them first.  However, this week, in order to make sure I remain unbiased, I started following some great staff reporters at The Seattle Times as well.  These folks are smart to follow because they work for a major metro daily that has both a print and online version.  It’s interesting to see how they use Twitter to promote their work.  Here’s a few of them:

1. @BrierDudley – Brier Dudley is the tech columnist for The Times.

Sample tweet:  Q&A: Bungie on “Halo: Reach” beta, Natal and more: The biggest tech product coming out of the Seattle area this ye… http://bit.ly/9U574S

2. @Andrew_Doughman – Andrew is a student at the University of Washington and recently got a gig writing for The Times.  There may be hope for the rest of us!

Sample tweet: NY Times has a helpful set of Google search tips (hey, reporters!)http://nyti.ms/drXj4J

3. @gbakermariners – Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times and writes a sports blog.

Sample tweet: Talkin’ Baseball segment coming up on KJR AM 950 within the next 5-10 minutes.:http://www.kjram.com/main.html

4. @EmilyHeffter – Emily Heffter covers politics for The Times.

Sample tweet: Final vote: 5-4 for bill with O’Brien, Licata, Rasmussen and Harrell opposing. It would take six votes to override McGinn’s expected veto.

5. @marianliu – Marian Liu covers Seattle’s music and art scene (LOVE her).

Sample tweet:  More summer jam news – Trey Songz, Fabolous and Jason Derulo are playing. More artists will be announced in the coming days on KUBE93.com

A bright future for journalism…do you buy it?  Mark Glaser does.  This afternoon I read a blog post he wrote that gives 10 reasons why journalism will thrive.  Glaser introduces the post by writing, “… rather than dwell on the negative, rail against change, or damn the upstarts at Google and Craigslist, I’d like to take a walk on the sunny side of life in new media, consider the positive aspects of all that is happening, and how we could end up in a renaissance era for journalism.”

Glaser lists these points among others:

  1. More access to journalism worldwide
  2. Aggregation and personalization satisfies readers
  3. More fact-checkers than ever (with online comments and critiques)
  4. More voices as part of the conversation
  5. Greater transparency and a more personal tone
  6. Stories never end (constant updates)

While I agree that his arguments make sense and probably are making the practice of journalism more comprehensive, his piece depressed me.  None of the reasons he listed will help newspapers stay in business.  In fact, he made it sound as if journalism majors are going to lose their jobs to the amateurs.

What do you think?  Will journalism progress (thrive) with or without trained employees?

Tweet: http://twitter.com/kemcvic/status/11715386543

I found an interesting article last night called “How We Use Twitter for Journalism” written by Marshall Kirkpatrick detailing how journalists can benefit from Twitter. While most of it contained pretty basic ideas (to discover breaking news and promote headlines), it mentioned using Twitter as a comprehensive interviewing tool, which I hadn’t thought about.

Kirkpatrick wrote about his own experience using Twitter as an interviewing tool for his site “Read Write Web“:

The questions we asked for our post titled “APIs and Developer Platforms: A Discussion of the Pros and Cons, for example, recieved answers via Twitter from people like Esther Schindler, senior online editor at CIO.com, Ray Valdes, Research Director of Web Services at Gartner Inc, Chris Saad, co-founder and chairman of the Data Portability Workgroup and Raju Vegesna, of web office suite Zoho. In addition to people of such stature that we’d have to take a deep breath before being so presumptuous as to call them on the phone – our questions get interesting replies from a diverse group of people we would never have thought to ask personally.

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Today I finally joined the Twittering world (follow me!).  I always thought Twitter was pretty useless.  To me, it seemed like a Facebook wannabe but with fewer features.  However, after doing some exploring today, I discovered that Twitter is full of useful information.  Here were are a few accounts I thought journalists would find useful:

1.  @jayrosen_nyu – tweets breaking news and offers thoughts on where journalism is headed.

Bio: “I teach journalism at NYU, direct the Studio 20 program there, critique the press and try to grok new media. I don’t do lifecasting but mindcasting on Twitter.”

2.  @writing_tips – the copy-editor in me was thrilled to find this account.  We all need to be reminded of the basics every now and then.

Bio: “Daily tips on grammar, spelling, punctuations, freelance writing and more!”

3. @WeeklyEvents – some of the best story ideas come from attending local events.  This site lets us know which events Seattle Weekly writers are recommending.

Bio:  “Follow our tweets to keep up to date on Seattle Weekly sponsored events, contests, and promotions!”

4.  @SeattleMet – Updates on Seattle’s restaurants, benefits, fashion, general happenings etc.

Bio: “Seattle Metropolitan is our city’s indispensable news, culture, and lifestyle magazine.”

5.  @mjironside – Matt Ironside is one of The Seattle Times’ online news producers and project managers.  He is a technological guru.

Bio: “Producer, project manager for seattletimes.com.”

6.  @Wordpress – tips and tricks for our beloved blogging site.

Bio: “Updates and other fun stuff related to WordPress.org (that’s the self-hosted version).”

7.  @Flickr – Be the first to know about Flickr’s new image arrivals.

Bio: “The official Flickr Twitter page.”

8.  @BreakingNews – Just that.  Breaking news from all over the world.

Bio: “Live breaking news and developing stories nonstop from America and every corner of the world.”

9.  @blpro – General blogging tips for a variety of platforms.

Bio:  BloggingPro is one of the oldest news sites around blogs, WordPress and other blogging platforms.”

10.  @_chuck_taylor_ – Journalist extraordinaire.  Chuck Taylor has worked as a reporter, designer and editor.

Bio: “Journalist, Web consultant”

11.  @journalismjobs – Jobs … in journalism?!

Bio: “Journalism, editorial, PR, and media sales vacancies. DM us to advertise.”

12.  @seattlepi – Local news blurbs.

Bio: “News from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest available at seattlepi.com.”

13.  @seattletimes – More local news headlines.

Bio: “Breaking news alerts, local, national, business and sports headlines.”

14. @myballard – Great example of a localized blog taking advantage of tweets.

Bio: “Ballard neighborhood news and events.”

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