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Journalists give Twitter the THUMBS up! (in exchange for their bics!)

Journalists give Twitter the THUMBS up! (in exchange for their bics!)
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In the trusted world of journalism there are three important skills a reporter simply cannot operate without.

  1. They need to know how to pick up a biro to start off with.
    Such an action is followed by writing squiggly lines which is actually just a clever way of writing without using most vowels. Kndv lk ths.
  2. They need to be armed with interrogation skills of the MI5 and the compassion of the Samaritans.
  3. Most importantly they need mole like qualities so that they can dig, and dig and dig for the best stories they could possibly unearth.

In light of my three prerequisites for a journalist I was somewhat taken aback when the head of digital publishing at Trinity Mirror told an auditorium at a conference I attended recently, that ‘back in the day’ he wouldn’t have hired a reporter if they couldn’t pick up a pen, and the same applies today if they don’t tweet.

When I started out as a hack there was no mention of the word ‘tweeting’ let alone the thought of swapping a pen for a mobile phone device and thumbs that could tweet at 110 words per minute instead of write with the swoosh of a pen. Given that proposition back then, I would, have quite frankly laughed.

Like most journos, I spent the last decade campaigning against the ever-changing role of a reporter, arguing there was still a need for sub editors and page make up designers (despite many of them being shipped off abroad and moved to centralised subbing departments.)

I, like many others, was so busy concentrating on everybody else’s role within the newspaper industry I was oblivious to the fact the role of a journalist was directly under threat.

The need, almost overnight, for the delivery of news instantly was one many journalists were ill equipped for.

Readers were no longer relying on papers with news reports a week, or even a day later, when they had access to news instantly via social media platforms like Twitter. In the world of journalism we were still getting our heads around the fact that our news stories would be published online before the actual newspapers were even printed.

Overnight, Twitter had become the news platform of the world delivering news as it unfolded to billions of people.

While journalists, in my opinion, will always remain a trusted source for news output, the way in which they gather news has evolved.

They no longer wait for the telephone to ring to give them a tip off of a breaking news story, they have to proactively look for it through mediums like Twitter. Because, let’s face it there’s an incredible 555m registered users of the service (according to Statistics Brain) acting as journalists – delivering news to millions.

As the quiet revolution of the Twitter phenomenon took place under journalists’ noses, the way they now sniff out stories has changed also.

In turn so has the role of PRs. It is an injustice to simply hit the ‘send’ button when sending out a press release and follow it up with a phone call.

While there is still a place for a release to be sent out with strategically placed messaging, there is also a need to adopt a fully integrated marketing approach with the PRs working hand in hand with the social media team to ensure effective and engaging content is placed on mediums like Twitter to grab the attention of journalists.

While I think a pen will always be a reporters most trusted tool there’s definitely room (and a need) for them to be armed with a tweet here and there to make sure they’re not scooped by the man in the street just simply tweeting what he sees!

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About the author Kate Allum

Kate Allum is head of Social Media at Citydesk Sport.