Thursday, May 7, 2009

The New York Times use of Twitter

Overall, NYT reporters are doing many great things when it comes to Twitter. At least one reporter has hit every potential use of the site. There is a nytimes stream solely to promote NYT articles. Many reporters also use their Twitters to promote freelance pieces or to give readers a preview of what they will be working on. Reporters use Twitter to find sources, such as Sewell Chan who needed to find witnesses to the Lower Manhattan Bridge collapse. Some reporters use their accounts as a collective for news and information on their beats. On NYT media reporter Brian Stelter’s Twitter you can find most media related news.

Besides promoting articles, NYT reporters do a great job of connecting to readers. Reporters frequently tweet questions to readers, not only to find overall opinion to use in stories, but also to make sure readers are happy with news coverage. Stelter encourages readers to ask questions. Almost all reporters welcome and respond to feedback. Editors like Patrick LaForge frequently post articles that give readers an insight into the editing process.

While NYT reporters are doing many things right, there is still room for improvement. Some reporters fall prey to trivial tweeting, like posting where they are going to dinner. Certain reporters also post so many article links that their interesting, insightful tweets get lost in the clutter. That’s disappointing because they aren’t using Twitter to its biggest potential—to showcase their personality so readers can connect.

It’s also interesting that opinion writers are much better tweeters than news reporters. It probably comes from the informality of their professional writing, but it makes their tweets much easier to read and much more interesting. Opinion writers need to give news reporters and editors some lessons when it comes to social media.

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