Modern journalism has without a question been revolutionized by Twitter. A replica of a wire service, the social network allows users to keep up with the events of the world, and new ways for journalists and news organizations to tell those stories. Over the course of its near ten year existence, the social network’s presence has allowed journalists and news organizations to inform and engage with audiences in ways previously unimaginable.
New research has showcased the social network’s value in journalism. Researchers from Hope College and Lehigh University have shown that interaction with users by journalists can increase credibility and are rated more positively by users compared to those that use the social network to provide news and information.
So what does this say about how journalists approach Twitter? Anne Mostue, an anchor and reporter with Bloomberg Radio in Boston, in a telephone interview, said most journalists are aware of the study and the role interaction has, but says its down to time, balancing personal and professional matters, as well as attitudes about Twitter.
“Most people who choose to interact with journalists on social media are looking to get to know them in some way,” Mostue said. “In my experience, people don’t know how to get in touch with someone on the radio. Twitter is a great way to give me feedback.”
Mostue joined Twitter a couple of years ago after joining public media station WGBH, at the encouragement of the station’s social media director. Mostue says she was attracted to Twitter for the ability to enhance public knowledge and contribute to discussions while saying little about things going on outside of her work.
However, Mostue says, journalists have to be careful on what they tweet, as Twitter has had an effect on audiences’ views of journalists. Mostue adds that when there is so much breaking news, users should not be distracted about events in one’s personal life.
“I don’t want to distract people with superficial information about my life,” Mostue said. “I have to be careful not to give too much of my personal opinion with the news I’m tweeting about. I hope what I tweet is useful or intelligent. It can be a very social platform, but it is more of a news platform than a social platform.”
Ultimately, Mostue says Twitter is another way to give audiences accurate content.
“For some its a time issue, they choose Facebook or Twitter, or don’t enjoy Twitter as much,” Mostue said. “But everyone knows that ideally as a journalist you’re thought of as a person who is approachable and giving you accurate content, and people appreciate your efforts to engage with them and give them relevant information every day.”
Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.