How journalists get sources using Twitter

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New York Times

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Lisah Petterson (@journalistlisah), an anchorperson on the Swedish TV4 channel gives in her blogpost on My Newsdesk a good tip for journalists looking for sources. The hastag #jourtip added to the request is used by Swedish journalists looking for sources, spokespersons or suggestions. The article is also mentioning her Twitter account increased interaction with her tv audience. The more active she is, the more she gets out of her efforts. Her advice is that journalists should use social media more as an integral part of their resources.

Another way is to use Twitter for referrals. When I can’t really find a direct contact (in Twitter or LinkedIn), through a couple of referrals I normally get where I want to come. It’s good to know your resources – and use them!

What’s wrong with Social Media?

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Social Media: Changing Business

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

This time I keep it to the point, and dedicate my words to 10 Popular Misconceptions about Social Media. Especially people working in media seem to have difficulties really understand their meaning.

  1. Lunch and other irrelevant talk – there are so many people with their preferences that there is enough to share. What is irrelevant for you may be important to know for some-one else. There’s also a ‘mood’ indicator!
  2. Twitter as a business doesn’t make money so isn’t a viable business – there are more businesses that don’t make money and still are significant. The value of Twitter is based on the number of users quite important.
  3. LinkedIn is for business, Facebook for personal contacts. Some-one missed out here on the business cases now made on Facebook. Why do you think businesses are creating Facebook pages? To reach their client base and perhaps even give service or a branding.
  4. Social networks are time consuming – I just twitter wherever I am, whenever I do. Just need an internet connection on the phone. Some people do not understand that even the time that a computer needs to start up, find a servcr or a file, can be used to communicate. So it can make lost time useful.
  5. Sharing is for exhibitionists. Sharing is a gift and can help other people. I like helping other people, don’t you really? And of course, I like to show when I am doing fun things. Not that weird…
  6. 140 characters is not enough for meaningful messages. It forces you to trim the message down to the point. This is an important skill.
  7. You can’t make money on Twitter. I know quite some businesses that make a lot of money on Twitter. Twitter helps my business… don’t you think my follower base of more than 2300 does not have potential? Wine merchand @slijterijmeisje makes a significant part of her revenues on Twitter – and if there was nothing to earn here, we would not have that many spam messages either.
  8. Does age matter? Simply said: no.
  9. Information overload. It just compacts the information and helps it channel. I don’t mind.
  10. It’s just for nerds and geeks. Don’t think so – judge for yourself.

It’s easy to take a mickey out of social media. It’s there for stay and as you see here: social media is more or less put on Twitter. You can reach a lot of important people for business through LinkedIn, access information using Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and Twitter contacts – just mention #twitterhelp if you have a question to answer! If people don’t see the point in social media, it just characterises themselves. Just see and use them as a tool. It will broaden your world and push you forward. Maybe not immediately but you will get there.

The spirit of the community

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Shopping district Noordse Bosje

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A personal story this time. Through Twitter, I came in touch with a former colleague – a photograher of a weekly newspaper where I was the editor in chief (Stadskrant Veghel). Years ago. Through the Twitter connection we said hello but it was for me the incentive to invite her for a cup of coffee. Fixing a date is the next challenge, so she came up with a meeting of the Social Media Club in the region, SMC0413. This was good as for me, it was an incentive to meet other people, like a girl I used to play squash with and other former colleagues. And of course, I could meet new people with one common characteristic: social media.

It was a great meeting and I wondered if there was a Social Media Club in the region where I live. Yes, Amsterdam but the waiting list of their meetings usually is longer than the available space. A no-go. Then Hilversum, the media city of The Netherlands. None! I couldn’t believe it. So I made a call on Twitter for social media people around the city to join SMC035 – and we created a LinkedIn group SMC035. As more or less immedately, I found people who wanted to help giving the SMC 035 a shape. I was amazed that on the first day the LinkedIn group was created, we got about 16 members, actually (over the week-end) the number is 24. And quite some of them like to help organising the events. This is a good spirit, that’s what I like about social media: getting things done, spontaneously, and with other people. Everything is possible as long as you are open for it!

Twitter Isn’t Journalism

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I Am Majid Social Media Campaign

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BusinessWeek has an interesting article about Twitter Isn’t Journalism. It relates a bit to the last post which makes it quite interesting to put it in context. It containts an historical perspective containing several examples of use of social media in the past during journalistic coverage. Poor news coverage and difficulty in verification of the sources create a contrast with the speed of the newsfacts, illustrative links and (new) sources and perspective to a story. It makes an interesting read. The conclusion, which is that journalists have to learn how to deal with Twitter and alike media, is easy to conform!

Journalism 2.0: Social Media Ethics

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Image representing Nathan T. Wright as depicte...

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In the slideshare presentation Journalism 2.0: Social Media Ethics, Nathan T. Wright gives some cues on how to judge and work with sources from social media. This subject is actual as in this kind of cicumstances, social media give often more information. Think of the revolts in Egypt, the news about the Christmas lights at Harrod’s in London, plane crashes and other accidents. The reliability of the sources need checking, probably even more then usual. The challenge is often to find the right person who is a source, place the message in context of what happened. Checking twice or more often is the rule here. Nathan gives some useful handles, also on how to judge images that may be manipulated.

Added value: new contacts

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Along Pall Mall, London

Image by Scorpions and Centaurs via Flickr

Sometimes it is for a journalist a struggle to get hold of the information. This is changing with Twitter and more broadly, social media. I would not know what to do without the existence of LinkedIn as well to find people or information. These two networks offer me contacts and information at a fingertip and more importantly: they are easily available. It is possible to find out more references, check out who will be the right person to approach for a blog, a contribution in a magazine, a presentation for a professional organisation or just to answer a question. And I keep the options open: if anybody likes to get to me for more information, I’m available. Of course without opening the books for confi stuff, that is obvious. And it is an opening to learn more, also discovering fascinating professionals in the same discipline, for example in the community managers group (in the Netherlands). It opens up to more ideas, and gives the opportunity to share experiences as well. Or through a contact, you discover a local group of social media enthusiasts with various backgrounds. Broadening up, finding more resources, opening up your mind. That is another effect that social media have to me.

If you are in the UK, I like to point out a special social network: the Netlinked groups. They have an original base in LinkedIn and they actually gather regularly in real life according to an agenda that ressembles a LinkedIn group: news, profile, an LinkedIn eye-opener, announcements and referrals. During the meeting which takes an afternoon, you are encouraged to speak about who you are looking for and often, from the group there already are suggestions made. This is extremely powerful. Our first meeting was a couple of months ago in the Institute of Directors at the Pall Mall, London. We were surprised and decided to go more often, and joined. Once joined, you have access to more advanced LinkedIn tuition and to all NetLinked groups. Something worth thinking of if you want to work online and in the real world. Because in the end, it’s the people that count.

Needed a plane crash to Twitter

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Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 (1b)

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My Twitter account exist for a couple of years already. I registered 11 July 2007 and made a couple of updates. From time to time but not extremely regularly. My eyes opened for Twitter on that Wednesday, 25th February. I was working in my house and as usually, I had my phone switched on and looked at Twitter from time to time to see what happens, not really expecting something. Until I saw at about 10.45 a tweet like: ‘Who is that guy – never active on Twitter and now he’s telling a plane crashed’. Because that appeared to happen: a Boeing 737-800 of Turkish Airlines, TK1951, litterally dropped outof the air just before the regular landing. I relived a bit the ‘sensation’ when the planes flew into the New York towers – what will happen? So I kept a closer eye on the streams, More people joined in and confirmed. First retweeting the ‘unknown’ guy but later also adding more. Like there’s no information at Schiphol Airport except that more or less all flights were cancelled or diverted (in that way, Schiphol doesn’t seem to learn as when something happens, the information still is not there). Tweeps added images. But still no ‘confirmation’ from the ‘old’ media. In the traffic jam near the accident, some people took pictures as they were waiting, standing still in the queue. It took the traditional at least one hour and a half to communicate something happened, and relied on the press conference for more information. I know it by then. Twitter has won the battle. For speed, and for information. That was the moment I really saw the value of this medium – and as well the limitations of the regular media in these kinds of emergencies. Where was De Telegraaf – normally very fast in coverage and close to the place of the accident? What are all those journos doing? I know it is a discussion but always when something happens, it’s Twitter that beat the news. The plane making an emergency landing on the Hudson river. The Egypt revolution. This week, a fire in Lemmer at the Polem factory. First pictures and a bit of useful information: it was on Twitter. BNR Radio, one hour later, talked about ‘fat black smoke taking the air’. By that time, this was not the case anymore. The fire was not under control yet but not that fierce as it was. The traditionals were late. And, unfortunately: this is often the case. Journalism can’t beat Twitter in speed, but it will do in depth. Well-documented. For fast and emergency information, Twitter is number one. And I think this should be used more in communication. In crisis situations, Twitter should be the first aid in the tool kit. To inform people. The few ones that may actually see that tweet will RT it, I’m sure. Information get spread fast – and that’s needed in those situations. The established media should make use of this more often. It will empower them.

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