Should Journalists Use Twitter?

The New York Times has a reader poll in its Insight Lab right now asking readers whether or not they want to see Times’ reporters and editors on Twitter. As of this post, 24% say “Yes”, while 69% say “No” and 6% say “What is Twitter?” The Insight Lab is an ongoing conversation between The Times and its readers about the future of the company. It surprises me that so many readers would say they don’t want reporters and editors on Twitter – almost as much as the 6% that claim to have no idea what Twitter is.I thought by now, most of us readers were in agreement that Twitter is a great place for journalists. We’ve seen countless examples of Twitter being a valuable tool for journalists. It’s been a used effectively as a platform for breaking news, finding sources and sharing news content in real-time with some of the most-engaged readers.

I couldn’t help but feel the poll was incorrect, based on everything we’re seeing around the media’s use of Twitter. And I’m not alone. Robin Wauters, a TechCrunch writer, recently wrote about this poll as well. Robin decided to take matters into his own hands and create a separate TechCrunch poll. Of course, the more tech-savvy audience supported the use of Twitter by journalists – with 62% of respondents in favor and only 22% opposed.

When it comes to the question of whether or not journalists should be on Twitter, it seems to depend on who you ask. With all the different lists of journalists on Twitter, it’s clear there is strong media support for the platform. It also seems like a silly question for the New York Times to ask it’s readers, considering it has more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter, not considering the 78 staffers listed here alone. Twitter’s explosive growth signals that it’s here to stay as a platform for distributing information quickly and building audiences around individuals’ tweets. So why do some people think it’s a bad idea for journalists to be on Twitter?

What do you think, should journalists be on Twitter? Tell us why you think “yes” or “no” in the comments below.

(Image Credit: Twitter Wallpaper by JoshSemans)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

4 Comments

  1. I think journalists should have twitter accounts. As someone interning in PR, I always search twitter to see if I can “figure out” a journalist before I pitch to them. You can get a good feeling for someone just by reading their tweets and it also makes them more human. To me it just seems natural that journalists should have twitter accounts; if not they could be missing the next big viral headline.

  2. I am all for the advancement of technology and see the internet as a primary future of social development, and think that’s wonderful. In that respect, by all means journalists are perfectly free to embrace twitter and whatever other internet technology they want.

    But something completely different, in my opinion, is the fetish news organizations have gotten for Twitter specifically. CNN has been the worst in this regard. What they are doing is really just pandering to the popularity of these social network. Because they want to embrace the future? Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I think they’re just trying to capitalize on the latest trend. When CNN shows their twitter pages on the news and read out people’s tweets on the air, it really just comes off to me as a gimmick for ratings.

    I’m thinking of a specific instance I saw a newscaster (I think it was CNN, but I don’t remember) reading off tweets about Palin’s resignation. The tweets read out were superficial, unintelligent, and added nothing of value to the story. At the least, if they were going to try this in earnest, they could have actually picked out the best of the bunch, right? The touch screens and “live” input from viewers looks fancy, but there’s really no substance there. I watch the news to see a concise and at least semi-intelligent recap of the world’s events, not the rantings of the average internet-goer.

    …/end rant by an average internet goer.

  3. Surely the problem’s in the poll. If you offer yes / no options to a question like Should Journalists Use Twitter, you’re not allowing for the people who don’t give a toss about Twitter to register their indifference. (I’m assuming this wasn’t a 4th option – the numbers add up to 99%, and I really think “I don’t care” would have garnered more than 1% of the poll)

    These people, when forced into a yes or no, are obviously going to choose no – why would they choose yes? We’ve all seen bafflement and indifference towards Twitter, and witnessed how it mutates into aggressive negativity when exposed to situations that take its uniquity as a starting point.

    Moreover, the third option is wilfully facetious, forcing the pollee to admit to ignorance they don’t genuinely possess. Internet polls have a bad reputation for a reason: polls like this one.

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