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Twitter and beat writing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by dmurph003, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. dmurph003

    dmurph003 Member

    I first heard of twitter about a year and a half ago from a fellow writer. He explained the concept to me, and I asked him to shoot me if there ever came a day where I was tweeting.

    Well, needless to say, my time on Earth may be drawing to a close.

    But while I'm still here - are there any beat writers out there who have had much success using Twitter? I can certainly see ways where it would enhance our coverage of my beat. I cover baseball, and there are plenty of times when I want to pass along an observation or nugget of information but am away from my computer or don't have time to blog.

    Any one know of any good examples of beat writers who are using Twitter with some effectiveness?

    Any one care to share some Twitter strategies? What constitutes too much twittering (or tweeting, or whatever the hell it is called)?

    Thanks for your help
  2. Charlie Brown

    Charlie Brown Member

    I'll add my stupid questions. Can you do it from your computer as well as your cell phone? I always hear people talk about it as if they're texting. And if you can get to a computer, why Twitter rather than blog? Both? Plus cover the beat? When is Twitter better than a blog post? When is a blog post better than Twitter? People can subscribe to both, right? What is the right piece of information to Twitter, and what is best saved for a blog?

    My head just exploded. Sorry. Work in the Stone Ages at a place that's very comfortable there.
  3. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    Every time I hear the word "Twitter" I want to shoot somebody. Same with "MySpace."
  4. Who says MySpace anymore? ;)
  5. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    My grandfather.
  6. dmurph003

    dmurph003 Member

    I can handle these:

    1) You can Twitter from a computer or a cell phone.

    2) It is much more efficient than blogging. Each message can be a maximum of 150 characters. So it isn't meant for real in-depth stuff. Look at it almost like a mass text message. In fact, when you are twittering from a phone, you do it via text message (unless you download an app for your blackberry or I-phone, which I have done). Say you are down on the field before a baseball game, and the manager gives you a piece of interesting, but not earth-shattering, news. You can blow out a short message (ex. Manuel: Rollins to bat third tonight instead of leading off. More on blog later).

    3) It seems to be the most valuable use of the device, at least from the paper's perspective, is as a way to drive traffic to the web site or blog. Jayson Stark sends out a message each time he posts a new blog entry (ex: New blog up. Schilling should be a Hall of Famer).

    4) Unlike blogging, it is not labor intensive at all. Cole Hamels pitched in a minor league game today while the rest of the team was at its Grapefruit League game. I watched the game and sent out a twitter message after each inning with his line, pitch count, and an observation or two.

    5) I hate that they named it Twitter. There's just no way to say it without sounding like a raging dork.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    You can tweet from your computer or cell phone. One difference between Twitter and a blog is that it pushes the content to all your followers so they see what you write immediately if they are on or if they have it sent to their phone.

    Another difference is that you have only 140 characters per post.

    What a lot of folks do is perhaps write a blog entry about, say Star Pitcher injuring his arm. And then you can link to it via Twitter.

    And a lot of people RT (re-tweet) people's posts to pass them along.

    This is considered a friendly, social, helpful use of Twitter and not plagiarizing. So in the best of all worlds, by judicious tweeting you could increase traffic to your blog.

    (What he said.)
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    First of all, I'd advise y'all to check out the other Twitter threads we've had (on the JTO board, not Anything Goes.) There are plenty of good suggestions in there.

    In general, though, Twitter can be very useful in promoting your stories -- many papers use it to post headlines and a short story link (using tinyurl.com or one of its variants).

    We've got reporters here who have used it to find sources or story tips. The principle is the same as it always was: if people know how to find you -- whether it's on the street or with a Tweet -- then you never know what they might tell you.

    When is Twitter better than a blog entry? For one, it's another way to direct traffic; it's another way to get your name/stories out there. Exposure is important. For two, if you don't have enough information yet for a full-fledged story, but you've confirmed something important that you want to get out there immediately, you can write a quick sentence on Twitter and get it out there. (Think of it like an AP alert: "Manny Ramirez signs deal to remain with Dodgers" or "Tebow(!) confirms he will return to Florida".) ... Doesn't mean you can't write a quick sentence on your blog, too. But again, it's another place for people to go -- that keeps your brand identity out there. If they're getting the information from you, they're not getting it from somewhere else.
  9. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    My only big problem with Twitter is that when someone starts doing it - "Hey, I'm Twittering from a concert, can u believe it?! Check out the full review in the paper" - the person comes off as outlandishly stunned and ludicrously dopey as the guys who first used the old Sports Illustrated Sneaker Phone.

    "I'm in the store, honey. And I'm talking into a sneaker! And it's a phone! HAHAHAHA!"

    "Honey, I'm in the store. And I'm Twittering! From the store!"
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Some people are annoying. Some people are good at it.
  11. AMacIsaac

    AMacIsaac Guest

    A better Tweet would be: Reviewing the KISS concert for the Times. Gene is still bad ass on the axe!

    A couple of our local TV stations are diving right into Twitter. They're using it to source stories that require Average Joe's input. For instance, one Tweet today read: Looking for people who have been laid off recently to tell their story. Reply or DM us.

    For sports, Tweet the odd bit of play by play from a game. Drumming up interest in your Tweets can deflect onto your blog and your paper's website.
  12. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    1. In terms of your website, why Twitter when you can blog and write stories when you can reach your audience better that way? Or even text? Both are more effective.

    2. Speaking socially, why twitter when facebook is easier. It has everything twitter has, and more?

    I honestly don't know what Twitter offers that I can't get in numerous places.
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