While Twitter can help the media to cover events, it can also enable journalists to share their own personal stories along the way. It’s one of the many things I love about social media.
To illustrate this, I’m going to use the New York Times social media editor Lexi Mainland as an example.
When Hurricane Irene tormented the New York region in late August 2011, the New York Times set up a separate Twitter account to house #Irene specific updates. It was called @NYTLive and its purpose is outlined in a great article on Poynter.
Lexi Mainland was one of those maintaining @NYTLive while the appetite for #Irene news was strongest. The @NYTLive account told its followers which journalists were tweeting when. And when Lexi wasn’t tweeting as @NYTLive, she shared her own personal experiences of the effects Irene had on New York.
See the sample tweets below (apologies if these are difficult to read, as Lexie has chosen a font colour too subtle for Twitter.com!)
This isn’t a blog about whether it’s right or wrong for journalists to “be in the story” as opposed to reporting stories.
Different journalists have different styles, and like all of us, differing boundaries when it comes to work/life balance.
What a journalist shares on social media will also be influenced by their employer and their target audience. But for Lexi Mainland, an officially-titled ocial media editor, it makes absolute sense to be using Twitter herself to engage with others, keep in touch with the community etiquette of the space, and maintain her social media skills.
More and more media organisations are introducing social media policies too. No doubt their employers are considering the pros and cons of their journalists having a Twitter account – and what they might be used for. Is a journalist’s own account for a) sourcing story information? b) promoting the next edition? c) building a personal brand or company brand? d) being in touch with the breaking news? It’s probably most of the above.
Whatever the reason, I’m enjoying following some journalists on Twitter and I’m glad they’ve finally entered the fray. Of course, many journalists have been tweeters from the start, including our local @saline. I’ll never forget though, the night I noticed @Sandra_Sully had her Twitter handle beamed on the screen as she read the news. Now, that’s Twitter going mainstream …
Related article: Who owns your social media account?