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Bill Bennett


Twitter journalism but sound-to-noise ratio an issue

Australian tech journalist Renai LeMay says Twitter is journalism. (The original site is dead, so no link, sorry). He is right but only up to a point.

LeMay writes;

Journalists are not simply using Twitter to promote their own work and get news tips. This is nowhere near to being the whole truth. In fact, audiences are using Twitter as a powerful tool to engage with journalists directly and force a renewal of journalism and media along lines that audiences have long demanded.

Well, some are.

I follow about 25 Australian and New Zealand journalists on Twitter.  On top of that, I follow about the same number of public relations people and a handful of both from elsewhere in the world.

If you’re interested, there is a list of NZ media people on Twitter. As an unscientific rule of thumb, I’d say only 40 percent of journalists use the service in the way LeMay suggests.

About the same number simply use it as a way of promoting their online stories.

Twitter journalism is not broadcasting

In other words, they aren’t joining the conversation. Instead, they simply using Twitter as a broadcast medium. I suspect, but can not prove, this usually is because of dumb managerial restrictions on their use of the technology.

A small percentage of journalists dabble in engagement, going on and offline depending on their workload. I understand. I’m sometimes guilty of switching off Twitter when there is a looming deadline and a huge number of words to write.

The remainder is still in the dull “morning tweeps” and “I had muesli for breakfast” or the more disturbing narcissistic school of Twittering.



6 thoughts on “Twitter journalism but sound-to-noise ratio an issue

  1. Mr LeMay will not let PR people follow him – he blocks them (sometimes after a number of pleasant online conversations once he realises who you are) so I am interested to hear how his opinions can actually be true.

    If he really does see Twitter as journalism, surely it doesn’t need to be a tightly controlled, subscription-by-invite-only model?

  2. hi Prem,

    Twitter is an open medium and it’s my choice who I block and follow 🙂 Anyone can still get my updates on the web, RSS etc. That’s the beauty of Twitter!

    Usually I block PRs because, as Bill says, they are not truly engaging with the conversation; particularly agency PRs, because they must by nature of their position serve many masters.

    I do follow a number of internal PRs, however, because their position allows them to engage much more openly and honestly with the conversation.

    I think you will find many journalists feel uneasy about dealing with PRs on Twitter because often there is an obvious agenda in the relationship 🙂


    (all views expressed here are mine alone)

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