community, journalism, socialmedia

Twitter for journalists – taking it to the next level

(Updated 7 July 2014) All journalists are tweeting now right? We’ll assume the answer is yes and move on, this post (a follow-up to my post on Twitter tips and tools from November 2012) is a set of tips and suggestions to take using social media, some you may already be doing – mainly focussing on Twitter – for journalism to the next level:

Movable type spotted at a Barcelona market
Movable type spotted at a Barcelona market

Twitter journalism, phase 2

Don’t just tweet when your story is done. Don’t just tweet the headline and a link to your story if its an ongoing issue or there’s a debatable outcome.
Add more keywords to make sure it gets seen and shared, ask a question, add link to source material, this should also help to seed follow-up stories.

Don’t just tweet your big stories once, it can get quickly lost amongst the stream of tweets. Tweet again (or time it using Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite etc.) for peak times: lunchtime, evening browsers or morning/early evening commuters.

Even before that, if it would benefit from audience opinion or professional advice and there’s no exclusivity, share what you’re working on.

Steve Buttry adds, from his post ‘You don’t tip competitors on Twitter; you beat them’:

“Before you go into that meeting, post an article on your site with a couple paragraphs telling about the agenda of the meeting and the news that’s likely to be made there. Then tell readers they can follow the meeting live right there on your site. Embed a live event underneath, timed to start about 15 minutes before the meeting starts, and feed your tweets into the event. Then your tweets provide live coverage that leave the competition in the dust.”

Remember to always acknowledge and thank others for tip-offs, feedback and also constructive criticism.

Showing a level of transparency benefits everyone and you increase the level of trust your audience has in you as a journalist (and this also helps your parent publisher’s brand).

Notes from the News:Rewired digital journalism conference

London, 6 December 2012 | Panel: Collecting Social Conversations:

Katie Rogers, Guardian US: Use existing Twitter lists for big events, Facebook Interest Lists too, don’t go to the obvious sources, social media, look for more topical communities.

“Gather the news and check it twice”. Accuracy and verification important as can break down, follow up with basic journalistic verification, make contact etc.

Try and add something to the news, interesting angles, people’s stories:

Reliable sources can share bad, inaccurate news, e.g. Separate account created to share inaccurate content, ‘bad’ news

The more people are using mobile devices, the more curating will be required and vital

Related tips: How news groups use social media to build stories.

David Wylie, Breaking News: ‘platform agnostic’, partnered with Microsoft UK in 2011.

You’re not always part of the conversation. An approach can be scary, e.g. Being quoted – the reaction unknown… But should be expected as part of publicly publishing.

Personal touch preferred to corporate accounts. Always ask re info/content

People can trick/host if they really want to, however much you check up

“It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” Clay Shirky

The initial few minutes of a news event are where the best info is, “people don’t have time to lie”, get your search phrases, contacts, sources

Tips from investigative journalist Colin Meek: advanced Twitter search

Via Sarah Marshall at

From Sarah Marshall (social media editor, EMEA, The Wall Street Journal ):

Search Twitter by location and find tweets posted from in or around a place name. This relies of the user having the geo-location option selected so it does not show many of the tweets sent.

There are two options: to use the Twitter advanced search form, or to learn the advanced operators. For example, you can simply type ‘near:”Peterborough” within:15mi’ to find tweets sent within 15 miles of Peterborough.

Searching by time using operators to search for tweets sent ‘since’ a certain date. For example ‘damascus since:2012-9-29’ will give any tweets sent mentioning the term ‘Peterborough’ since 29 September. And ‘Peterborough until:2012-9-29’ will show tweets containing the word ‘Peterborough’ sent before that date.

Find and filter tweets that carry links: “Often the most important tweets are the ones that link to other documents, such as YouTube videos or eyewitness accounts on a blog,” Meek said.

For example, one that Meek tried and tested during the 2011 uprising in Egypt, was to search for tweets that mentioned Tahrir and carried links. You can do this by using ‘tahrir filter:links’

Other tricks are to search for tweets from an account. ‘syria from:bbcnews’ will show tweets sent by @BBCNews mentioning ‘Syria’.

If you are dealing with an area where 3G and internet services have been suspended, you may want to search for tweets sent by SMS. For example, ‘tahrir source:txt’ will give tweets sent by SMS mentioning ‘Tahrir’.

Social media management tools

‘Manage the chaos’ using TweetDeck etc. to pull in as many sources as possible.

Sarah Marshall post on advanced newsgathering using Tweetdeck from talk by Joanna Geary (@JoannaUK, head of news at Twitter UK) – good advice on filtering/searching which also has a few good verification tips.

More on verification

The first rule of verifying tweets is – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – always double-check/get a second source before retweeting.

Steve Buttry post on verification tips on Twitter: How to verify information from tweets.

On corrections from social media and live blogging:

Tips from Editor of the Regret the Error blog, Poynter Institute, Craig Silverman:

“Look at the information itself and ask, first of all, ‘is there potential harm or danger, or are we potentially helping really spread misinformation if we put this out there yet?

“the key thing about that [unconfirmed reports] is to understand that you have a real responsibility to make it as clear as possible about what you don’t know about this information and what the problems are, or the potential problems are with this information.”

‘Also to be aware that the spread of your reports are out of your control, e.g. across social media.

‘Also important to tweet corrections, and reply to those that tweeted article/retweeted incorrect and/or now deleted tweet to rt a correction.’

any feedback, constructive criticism on the above welcomed, to me @richardkendall

See also, tips & further reading:

Five online standards and ethics pointers for journalists at news:rewired

As it happened: Online standards and ethics discussion at news:rewired

Ten top tips for journalists using Facebook – Lavrusik at news:rewired

How newsrooms manage UGC in breaking news situations –

Still essential, from 2011: Content, context and code: verifying information online – Paul Bradshaw,

and finally: How to Stay Safe With Social Networks –

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