Twitter has delivered for ‘traditional’ journalism


There’s been a lot of talk about what Twitter and other social media platforms can do for politicians –  especially in Australia where the federal election will be held tomorrow.

Stephen Collins pointed out (quite rightly) that “the average punter is still relying on the tabloids, commercial radio and mainstream evening news and current affairs for their political information”. News Limited said (probably with relief) that “it was touted as the Twitter election, but two-and-a-half weeks in it has become clear the new media is far from usurping the mainstream outlets for the political parties.”

Even more analysis was given to politician’s use of social media, particularly Twitter, where not surprisingly MPs were given a resounding #fail.

But what about the so-called “traditional media”? What has social media done for the press pack following the election campaign?

During this election period, journalists have taken to Twitter like a toddler discovering their first lollipop. They’ve been using the power of the platform to quickly share election campaign insights – everything from doorstop announcements through to behind-the-scenes fun on the tour bus (remember Latika Bourke’s great piece on John Faulkner’s discovery of Twitter? )

Twitter: addictive qualities for media, too.
Twitter: addictive qualities for media, too.

The election was called on 17 July but speculation started weeks before when Julia Gillard became the Prime Minister.  On that day – 24 June – the Twitter follow numbers for key media tweeters jumped dramatically. Tweet accounts for @abcthedrum @samanthamaiden @annabelcrabb @latikambourke and @laurieoakes all began to rocket on that day. Previously, their numbers were quite static.

Twitter ‘quality assessment’ tools like Klout provide more insights.

Annabel Crabb has a good Klout score of 41,  and Latika Bourke has a whopping 67. Both are called ‘personas’ that have built a brand around their identity. Laurie Oakes a more modest Klout of 22, though he’s been categorised as a ‘broadcaster’ (very apt). Klout tells Laurie: “You broadcast great content that spreads like wildfire. You are an essential information source in your industry. You have a large and diverse audience that values your content.”

(I’d love to know how much traffic the Twitter account @abcthedrum drives to the Drum website. Anyone got any insights?).

Social media has helped Australian political journalists to build their own personal profiles and also the profiles of their media outlets. They’ve been able to tweet links to their articles and position themselves as the people to follow for news updates. Isn’t that the ideal position for a journalist to be in?

So rather than take a combative approach to social media, the journalists who “get it” are leveraging digital channels and benefitting from social media – in a way that’s still elusive for most politicians.

Have you been following more media Twitter accounts? Are you following #ausvotes? Tell me about your experience …

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Valeri says:

    True, Twitter is helping traditional media in Australia even when traditional media don’t use twitter the way it’s meant to be used.

    Twitter is a social media tool, where people are suppose to connect and engage with each other, however traditional media is just using it as another tool of one way communication,just like they use newspapers, radio and tv.

    This is very interesting because most social media evangelists and experts I see in workshops talk about businesses and government engaging with the people using social media, but thanks to traditional media and many bloggers as well, the average aussie doesn’t know that social media is about engaging with others, am I making any sense?

    I believe traditional media is important but I think social media/citizen/community journalism should also be as important in Australia as it is in other countries.

    The way people use Twitter in Australia won’t change, it will just be about traditional media, bloggers, celebrities and businesses sending you information and people passing it along, unless people are told how to use it properly, but then again, traditional media won’t do that.

    If we really want people to engage in a conversation then we need to look at the citizen/traditional media model like in other countries. In the States you have Ireport (CNN bought them because they were smart enough to see the benefit of citizen opinions), allvoices, In Canada you have DiditalJournal, NowPublic, in Europe you have Wikileaks and there are many more sites like that overseas. These are the sites that tradiditional media in the States and other countries are worry about because people are using them to actually share their opinion and create conversations. I am not talking about 140 characters but 1, 2 or even 10 pages of information from the people to the community.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think Twitter is great but its concept is still new for aussies and they just don’t get it.

    There are two websites in Australia I know of like the previous citizen/community journalism websites I mentioned, one is from Perth and the other one, is one I created last year – I am not trying to sell typeboard here at all, if I wanted to do that I would have done it ages ago. I am just trying to make a point that if we want conversations, articles and people sharing stories then the citizen/social media is the way to go, but if an average aussie doesn’t get twitter will they get community/citizen social media? Maybe bloggers and social media experts like yourself should let others know about these other sites, maybe then people will engage.
    Traditional media in Australia should do what many countries from the americas, europe and asia are doing, using these citizen news and opinions websites to obtain more news and information after all there is reason why CNN bought Ireport.

    Any thoughts on it Prakky and other readers?

    Nice articles too Prakky. 🙂

  2. I have followed a lot of the election campaign via the key journalists on Twitter, both for their quick updates on campaign announcements and events, and the insights it provides into how the campaign was being organised and how members of the press pack were speaking to each other.

    Their use of Twitter in the campaign has certainly promoted the ‘celebrity’ journos, and helped boost the work they are doing for their current employer. The problem for the mainstream media outlets is that it doesn’t necessarily boost the audience for their other content, or their overall standing/relevance. If I receive Twitter updates direct from the campaign, and quick insights from the reporters on site, I won’t necessarily get much more substance by buying their newspaper/tuning into their station/visiting their website for the full version.

    Journalists will move on, and take their ‘personal’ Twitter following with them. (Notice Annabel Crabb doesn’t have any bio or employer listed on her Twitter page. She is her own brand.)

    How long will it be before Latika Bourke moves out of radio news for a more substantial gig in the papers and/or a TV gig? She’ll update us on Twitter when it happens.

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