Social MediaJournalism

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 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 its 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?

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