If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that twitter is a huge part of my personal and professional life. On Friday, I reached a pretty big personal milestone and sent out my 10,000 tweet. Yes, it means I tweet a lot. Some of it is inane, but I try my best to keep it entertaining, informative and relevant.
I’ve had the chance to talk to journalism students about using social media to build their practice and I can’t stress how useful twitter is. So in honour of 10,000 tweets I want to reiterate the three things I’ve learned about twitter:
1) It’s a great way to ‘meet’ people in journalism
In a recent post, I expressed my admiration for the Atlantic’s online strategy. Through some odd game of six-degrees of separation, one the online editors for the Atlantic, Jared B. Keller introduced himself. I’ve had the chance to trade jokes with him and swap ideas with someone working at one of the most interesting outlets in journalism today.
I’ve also found it easier to go up and introduce myself to fellow journalists and editors who I’m already following on Twitter. Hey, at the very least you can ask them about that link they tweeted a few days back instead of engaging in small talk about the weather.
2) It’s a great way to keep up with the news
If you follow the right people and sources on twitter you’ll pretty much always have something to read. If you’re a freelancer looking for an idea, twitter can help find an idea for your next story or at least keep tabs on what other publications are doing. If you’re a beat reporter follow other people in your beat and relevant publications to have a curated stream that’ll keep you on top of what’s happening.
3) It’s a great source of breaking news *
The Mumbai terrorists attacks, the miracle on the Hudson, Toronto’s G20 protest, the Egypt revolution. I used Twitter as a news gathering tool when covering all of these stories. It’s an imperfect medium, and it won’t replace actually having reporters on the ground, but you can’t ignore it anymore.
* Except of course, when it isn’t. Hoaxes can spread easily on Twitter, so remember to verify before retweeting.