Please Review! Twitterbook: The News Media Vertical (2nd draft)

This is the second version of my planned vertical on NewsMedia for the UWTwitterBook

Red text needs work and commentaries, black hopefully doesn’t 😉

Chapter x : NewsMedia on Twitter

{Start out with a tweet of #iranelection/#cnnfail}

Twitter is a real-time medium with the ability to provide instant news. For journalism, this is a challenge as it requires a rethinking of old structures of both research and reporting in this new medium.

On June 13th, protestors on the streets of Tehran were threatened by violence and a protest ban ordered by the self-declared winner of the Iranian election, Ahmadinejad. Many Iranians claimed manipulation of the election. The people on the streets were crying out to the world of a violation of democratic principles{a refrence goes here}. At the same time, “ignoring” these events as some critics put it, CNN was debating the value of Twitter.  The news network that gained trust and following 20 years ago by its reporting on the Tiananmen massacre {a reference goes here}, disappointed its readers and they were not afraid to say it. While events in Tehran were covered on the hashtag #iranelection, a new conversation sidetracked from this under #cnnfail. ReadWriteWeb published an article urging CNN to go to Twitter to check on news in Iran. The response came late through a video by Ricardo Sanchez @cnn in which he tried to show that CNN had covered the events sorrounding the election.

However, the damage to CNN remains. The CNN fail hashtag still exists and is only one of the conversations expressing readers’ frustration with news networks that fail to live up to the new standards of real time news.


What is considered good news reporting online? And how can it be done in 140 characters? Key terms in this discussion are speed, interactivity, credibility, quality, depth and the “human” element.

Many news networks use their Twitter accounts as a way to distribute their RSS feeds. Among well-known examples are the New York Times (@nytimes), MSNBC (@msnbc) and NPR (@nprnews). While this is a legitimate practice, and many networks have several of these accounts {do I need a reference here?}, it takes more to be a top player in the world of Digital Journalism.

Readers want/(expect/hope for) a personal voice that is both “timely and relevant” and that they can trust, which puts journalists under enormous pressure (see Journalism 2.0, Ch. 6)

However, this is not only a chance for news consumers to get more out of their news. It is also an opportunity for Journalists and news networks. Twitter allows Journalists to connect with their audience, receive instant feedback and opinions, get a feeling for the hot topics and participate in two directional conversation with colleagues and audience alike.

Twitter is thus a great chance for journalists to come to terms with a new way of thinking that is direly needed in an environment where print media is suffering from both an economic and a structural crisis. Twitter is also a space for discussing issues of free versus paid content, which currently is a critical topic in journalism.

The following profiles are examples of those who have managed to start moving away from the one-directional communication towards a more interactive journalistic approach. RSS headline broadcasting does not belong in this category! Yet, while some are still shouting through their bullhorn, others are crawling or marching bravely into the new sphere, ready to listen and converse.

Methodology – Feel Alone in the Twitterverse?

{I would be willing to turn this into a guide for the “tool” section or sth. Then I would just point to it from the chapter!?} I go about several different ways to find people on Twitter. Here is a short list. Some of them are more and others less helpful. Hit and run!

Flip the Channel - TwitZapping is finding people on Twitter Guerilla Style ©pcbritz

Flip the Channel - TwitZapping is finding people on Twitter Guerilla Style ©pcbritz

Structural Approaches:

Lists and directories can help you to identify users to follow. I have been recommended WeFollow by several people and found it useful. It allows for a search within a category.

Twibes are also a great way to find people. They are ordered by subjects or interests and assigned 1-3 key terms or hashtags. The Twibe filters these and creates a feed of them. People on Twibes will be somehow affiliated with the search term.

Snowballs – The Twitter Way

Thought leaders can be helpful in identifying new connections and interesting users. Most thought leaders will follow a small amount of active users that inspire them, mostly in the same field. Use the snow ball system. Identify thought leaders and check out who your grand figures are following.

Trouble identifiying thought leaders? Hint: If you search a key term and find a series of RTs of the same person, you might be on the right track!

#Follow[placeanydayoftheweek], originally #Followfriday or #ff: People will show appreciation or share great users via follow friday. Combine with thought leaders and you’ll be very likely to find good people!

Guerilla Method: TwitZapping (My Personal Favorite)

Frustrated with all the structured approaches? Try TwitZapping (no, that word doesn’t exist yet, I made it up!)

I grew up as a bored teenager with a remote in my hand… that’s when I trained my thumb for texting, plus I learned to appreciate randomness (“uuh, Bible TV” ZAP “wow, cool – city council meeting” – ZAP “Hm, documentary on New Zealand Birds? Alright”). I’ve carried some of that into Twitter.

Flipping “channels” also works on Twitter – What I call TwitZapping.
The rules: Pick a person, hover your mouse over the people they follow, look back at the Twitterstream and click, blindly. Check out the profile without moving the mouse and click again – until you find a “channel” interesting to you or you run into Oprah.

TwitZapping might not be as effective, but it opens up profiles you would have otherwise never seen (like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher for me). It also gives you a feeling for the Twitterverse at large – beyond your usual buddies. It’s the luck of the draw, but sometimes you DO get lucky.

Case Studies:

We will start the case studies with the “big players” and see what they are up to on Twitter {rephrase}

Case Study 1: @RickSanchezCNN:

CNN is one of the most influential providers of news online (as they claim on their Breaking News Twitter account).
While CNN has embraced a number of uncommon technologies, #cnnfail has damaged CNN’s public and especially online image. When the criticism hit CNN, Rick Sanchez proactively talked about CNN’s coverage of the #iranelection. Sanchez is thus the most noticeable non-robotic CNN News provider tweeting.

@ricksanchezcnn - Uniting person and network. Do both come through?

@ricksanchezcnn - Uniting person and network. Do both come through?

Out of 100 Tweets: 40 @replies, 0 RTs, 13 internal/2 external Links (4 blog, internal, 2 external, 9 ext, but about him), 0 hashtags

42 FRP (From Rick’s Producer), 30 private, 9 promotional

Date data downloaded : Aug 06, 2009
Industry sector : NewsMedia

Twitter ID : @ricksanchezcnn
Followers : 104 711
Following : 40 405
Ratio followers/following : 1 : 2,59

Number posts : 3211
Account created : July 28th, 2008

* Filiz’s pie chart (link tweets, @ tweets, RTs, other)
* Elements that will be “graded”:


Rick's personal voice

Rick's personal voice


{content goes here}


{content goes here}

* External analytical data (tool TBD)

Bottom Line:

Expectations on CNN are high. Rick is going an OK job, but he is not really engaging in the conversation. Corporate part of his profile is disturbing the personal voice (which is quite humorous). Plus for experimenting. Minus for noise and failing to converse. Basically the narrative part of the profile.

Case Study 2 : John A Byrne

{a cool quote from the Video goes here}

John A Byrne is the Editor-in-Chief of Business week and an outspoken fan of Twitter. In a video on the Business Week website, he talks about the people he follows as well as his own use of Twitter. This video is what brought me to his profile in the first place. The reason? John A Byrne is a Journalist who gives a real inside scoop – he shares with Twitter what will be BusinessWeek’s news of tomorrow!

John A Byrne opens the newsroom to the reader, but he forgot to water the plants!

John A Byrne opens the newsroom to the reader, but he forgot to water the plants!

Out of 100 tweets: 16 @replies, 4 mentions, 1 RT, 67 links, 16 personal or “behind the scenes” tweets.; 5 Hashtags

Date data downloaded : August 12, 2009 0:38 – Aug 3rd
Industry sector : News Media

Twitter ID : @JohnAByrne
Followers : 16 814
Following : 2836
Ratio followers/following : 5,93 : 1

Number posts : 4 886
Account created : Nov. 3rd 2008

* Filiz’s pie chart (link tweets, @ tweets, RTs, other)
* Elements that will be “graded”


JohnAByrne allows a peek behind the scenes of Journalism

JohnAByrne allows a peek behind the scenes of Journalism

Transparency (Bio)

Bio: The bio itself gives all relevant information on the person John A. Byrne. He does not assume that people know him and he gives away his personal agenda: Digital Journalism. A short, but good bio!

active and listening, although 2836 people might be too many to listen to

active and listening, although 2836 people might be too many to listen to

Transparency: Account transparency is easily given: John A Byrne rules here. Beyond that, Byrne is transparent about the backstage of Business Week through his tweets.
Bio Link: Since the bio itself carries enough information, he makes the Bio link not about himself, but about the reader. It leads to a BW blog of reader suggested stories – this is how Byrne incorporates reader engagement without flooding his stream.


Byrne opens the newsroom for user participation

Byrne opens the newsroom for user participation

* External analytical data (tool TBD)

Bottom Line:

John A. Byrne allows the Twitter community a peek inside the newsroom and he opens up the door for people to step in and give their suggestions. Yet, he does not leave his newsroom to go out and seek the conversation with those talking about his subjects outside of his newsroom. His tweets are always relevant and he makes conscious decisions about what he tweets. Keeping a ratio of about 80/20 on promotional vs. personal messages, his personal tweets are generally job related.  Byrne uses his  Twitterstream to crowdsource and he breaks the lead story for the next day on Twitter first. As other broadcasters, however, he does not show a strong interaction in certain topics or ongoing conversations on Twitter and I would be surprised to find him tapping into other conversations or pointing towards them.

{Interrupting Sub-headline}

{rephrase} Most Journos still use Twitter as a broadcasting tool, even though they have made progress. More significant progress can be seen in regional news.

Case Study 3: RheinZeitung

{here goes a Q&A quote}

RheinZeitung is a German regional newspaper that uses Twitter both as an RSS of their news stories as well as to engage their readers through personal communication on several accounts!

{Contrast their “old” image with the “new”}

RheinZeitung Twitter Profile (comment errors corrected)

RheinZeitung Twitter Profile

Out of 100 Tweets:
31 “real” @-replies;
8 RTs; 17 additional mentions
30 links (of which 6 did not link back to RZ itself)
76 hashtags
{needs “private” vs. “promotional” categories}

ate data downloaded : July 26 – July 28
Industry sector : NewsMedia

Twitter ID : @<a href=””>rheinzeitung</a&gt;
Followers : 1 333
Following : 615
Ratio followers/following : 1 : 0,46

Number posts : 3510
Account created : Jan 26, 2009

* Filiz’s pie chart (link tweets, @ tweets, RTs, other)

* Elements that will be “graded”

Voice and Value

Online and offline feedback for the RheinZeitung Tweeters!

Online and offline feedback for the RheinZeitung Tweeters!

{TRANSLATION?? screencapture tweet about boss’s cell}


Bad. No clue who is posting! (Include Q&A)


{screencapture tweet about RZ-follower-meetup}

Bottom Line:

With its Twitter account, the RheinZeitung has not only conquered a new medium, it has also renewed itself and its public image. While their website has been well-maintained before, the editing office uses Twitter to show a more human (and surprisingly humorous and random) side that engages with its audience regularly on an equal level.
Whereas other newspapers use their accounts as RSS feeds of their stories, RheinZeitung seeds its stories while providing a look behind the scenes of reporting.

Case Study 4: King5Seattle

{Will be similar (though different) to RheinZeitung – we already know they are doing a good job}

Thought Leaders

@digidave @reporterssource @bridge2science @mashable @thomsonreuters @demotix @NiemanLab
@spotus @ICFJ @USAToday @GroundReport @thenewschick @knightfdn @kegill @jayrosen_nyu @jeffjarvis

Lessons Learned / Recommendations

{currently note status}

Although Twitter can reach the world, its best use is local!

Engage/Interact; don’t try to be a mere broadcaster (or if u have 2, make it clear), make use of your sources, be transparent in what you do, but sensible to the information you give out. Try to be up to date if you can. But don’t force analysis on Twitter. Use it as a link back to deep digging. If u can’t be there, your expertize has to be quality and research!

(also Iran Election): What can news providers learn from this? Interact with your users online, be in a conversation, be transparent, old editorial ideas become anachronistic. Stories evolve, they are never finished!

Bio: The bio itself gives all relevant information on the person John A. Byrne. He does not assume that people know him and he gives away his personal agenda: Digital Journalism. A short, but good bio!

<a href=””><img class=”size-full wp-image-634″ title=”JohnAByrne_bio” src=”; alt=”active and listening, although 2836 people might be too many to listen to” width=”185″ height=”204″ /></a>

active and listening, although 2836 people might be too many to listen to

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