Teaching Online Journalism

Journalists: How to get started with Twitter

If you haven’t yet found any value in using Twitter, here’s what you should consider.

On the topic of WHY to get started, John Robinson (the editor of the News & Record, in Greensboro, North Carolina) wrote a very good piece for ASNE this week.

If you’re not on Twitter, you’re making your job more difficult. It’s a place where people are talking about things that matter to them.

John listed five key benefits for journalists who use Twitter:

The above is quoted directly from John’s essay. I agree absolutely with his reasoning.

What John did not cover is the ways we are able to monitor and use Twitter.

Choose a Good Client App

If you just go to the website (Twitter.com) and use Twitter from there, it’s not very useful (you do need to go there to register initially). To maximize the benefits of using Twitter, you need to download a client. There are various clients (free and paid) for iPhone, Android, desktops (both Mac and Windows), and more.

I use TweetDeck on all my computers and on my iPhone (also available for Android, Chrome and iPad). It’s free. I like the way it lets me manage multiple columns so I can follow specific hashtags when news is breaking or a conference is under way.

An article at Tripwire magazine explains why many people like HootSuite.

In a recent post, Marty McPadden explains the strong points of 12 different Twitter apps, including those best for sharing photos or music.

The People You Follow

As John pointed out in his essay, the value in Twitter really is in whom you choose to follow. He provided a list of good people for journalists to follow, but I thought his list was too long for a newbie to appreciate.

If you still think Twitter is a waste of time, try this:

  1. Unfollow everyone you currently follow.
  2. Follow five or so headline sources you like (e.g., Al Jazeera English, BBC Breaking News, CNN Breaking News, The New York Times, NPR NewsESPN).
  3. Check in a few times a day using your mobile phone.

I think this simple exercise will demonstrate pretty well why Twitter has value to journalists. It addresses only the first one of John’s five benefits — explore the other four on your own!

Categories: blogging, ideas, participation, reporting, training


  1. [...] Sullo stesso tema segnalo l’ottimo pezzo di Mindy McAdams “Journalists: How to get started with Twitter“ [...]

  2. [...] Mindy McAdams added to John’s guide with Journalists: How to get started with Twitter. [...]

  3. […] Make it a conversation. We had forgotten one of the most basic ways to start growing your brand on Twitter: asking questions, responding to questions and offering further resources to our readers. […]

Leave a Reply