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.
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.
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.