Monday, August 18, 2008

Twitter, D360 and networking the news

I admit it. I'm a Twitter fan. It didn't happen overnight. It's been a long, slow courtship.

I know social networking has journalistic applications, but I wasn’t quite certain how this particular site would help. It's taken months and a breaking news story to help me really understand.

Twitter, if you don’t already know, is a social networking site that allows only brief posts – about the size of your average newspaper headline. So having a good editor -- or being one – is helpful to get the best use of the space.

Our marketing vice president at d360, Paula Sirois, twisted my arm into jumping on the Twitter bandwagon after a year of tweet-ing away about our Internet startup. I've been tweeting routinely since she helped me hook up.

A few weeks ago, late on a Friday afternoon, ABC announced that former presidential candidate John Edwards had admitted he had a brief affair with a film producer. Given that our site has an archive of stories about the topic of infidelity, I was able to put together a story quickly and post it online within minutes of the annoucement.

Then I posted a quote from the story on Twitter, which is what I normally do for newly published stories. I wondered if I could drum up any interest in our d360 experts and related stories by posting them on Twitter as well. So I tried it.

Shortly after doing so I received a post from a journalist who wanted to congratulate me for being on top of the news and for providing related topics of interest to the main story. The e-mail that followed came from an editor at an online news wire service called All Headline News, who asked if I could provide experts for the Edwards story. Of course, I could – and did.

As a traditional print editor, I never thought about using a social networking site to expand our web site’s reach. But a year after taking this job, I have used Twitter – and other social networking sites – to increase my sourcelist, expand my web contacts and come up with related content to breaking news.

More importantly, I’ve used social networking to connect the content we’ve gathered with media outlets that need it. I guess it goes to show you – it is all about who you know.

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