A month ago I had a conversation with Australian journalist Renai LeMay who says Twitter is journalism.
He has written a few posts on the subject on his blog and elsewhere. The best jumping off point for new readers is Twitter’s impact on media and journalism.
LeMay is a visionary. He has a great grasp of where news journalism and online media may go.
In my earlier post Can Twitter be journalism? I agreed with him in principle. However, I believe only a fraction of journalists use Twitter as an interactive news media.
Most use it as a broadcast medium – like an RSS feed. A number have Twitter accounts, but say little of value. Perhaps 40 percent can be said to be serious Twitter journalists.
I may have been over optimistic with this estimate. Yesterday the Online Journalism Blog reported on how British newspapers use Twitter. In Newspapers on Twitter – how the Guardian, FT and Times are winning Malcolm Coles writes;
“newspapers have a total of 1,068,898 followers across their 120 official Twitter accounts – with the Guardian, Times and FT the only three papers in the top 10.”
This sounds encouraging. Buried further down the story is the comment:
“Out of 120 accounts, just 16 do something other than running as a glorified RSS feed. The other 114 do no retweeting, no replying to other tweets etc”
Coles also points out the newspaper sites do little in the way of following.
Cluetrain has barely stopped here
Both these points apply to the bulk of Twittering publications in Australian and New Zealand. My guess is journalists are encouraged by managers to promote their stories using the technology, but are actively discouraged from replying and retweeting.
There’s a precedent for this. After all, hardly any online publications in the region ever link to titles owned by other publishers – which means they are missing the point of online publishing somewhat. Until publishers encourage reporters and editors to engage with their audiences, they are going to miss out on the potential of Twitter.
Of course, the journalists who do this best will become media brands in their own right, which will worry the bean counters. But that’s another story…