How about a Twitter city desk?

By Steve Outing

Last night I was talking to a reporter about Twitter and its implications for journalism. I’d previously written a blog item on this topic for Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. That conversation helped me come up with another idea: the Twittering city desk. Is anyone trying this yet?

The idea is simple enough. We are now in an era when news is not something that you hold on to. As a news organization, you want to get news out as quickly as possible. Assembling even a short summary story for immediate publication on your website is going to take a few minutes. You can of course send out an e-mail news alert to subscribers; that’s a bit faster.

But how about asking city editors (or whatever you call your front-line editors) to feed a breaking-news Twitter flow throughout the day? For people who want to know what’s going on as quickly as possible, this could be a valuable service (and, I bet, popular among news junkies).

I’d think of this slightly differently than an e-mail headline alert service. Most news organizations send those out sparingly — only when a breaking story is truly significant. If you lowered the bar and sent alerts more often for lots of news stories, readers would feel like they’re getting too much e-mail from you. But a Twitter feed is a bit different; multiple “tweets” during the day won’t be perceived in the same way.

This would be a small task for your front-line editors. Having reporters do it is an alternative, but then you have to trust them. What do you think? Are news organizations ready for this?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

11 Responses to "How about a Twitter city desk?"

  1. […] Steve Outing » How about a Twitter city desk? “How about asking city editors (or whatever you call your front-line editors) to feed a breaking-news Twitter flow throughout the day? This could be a valuable service (and, I bet, popular among news junkies).” (tags: social+media microblogging journalism tools tidbits+fodder) […]

  2. Damon Kiesow
    Damon Kiesow 9 years ago .Reply

    Steve – http://www.twitter.com/nashuatelegraph

  3. Yoni Greenbaum
    Yoni Greenbaum 9 years ago .Reply

    Steve – I think this is a great idea. At Ottaway, we’ve been preaching the benefits of Twitter and so far have managed to get our newsrooms to push out announcements (with links) of new site content. Some have done breaking news, but nothing consistent. Given the fact that you can push additional feeds through twitter, for a breaking news scenario like the one you outlined, you could also include feeds from other “channels” providing readers robust and instant breaking news coverage.

  4. Yoni Greenbaum
    Yoni Greenbaum 9 years ago .Reply

    Steve – I think this is a great idea. At Ottaway, we've been preaching the benefits of Twitter and so far have managed to get our newsrooms to push out announcements (with links) of new site content. Some have done breaking news, but nothing consistent. Given the fact that you can push additional feeds through twitter, for a breaking news scenario like the one you outlined, you could also include feeds from other "channels" providing readers robust and instant breaking news coverage.

  5. Ryan Sholin
    Ryan Sholin 9 years ago .Reply

    It’s easy enough to hook an RSS feed up to Twitter; if your CMS does what it should, you can route your ‘Local News’ or ‘Breaking News’ feed straight to the service.

    See also:
    http://twitter.com/NashuaTelegraph

  6. Ryan Sholin
    Ryan Sholin 9 years ago .Reply

    It's easy enough to hook an RSS feed up to Twitter; if your CMS does what it should, you can route your 'Local News' or 'Breaking News' feed straight to the service. See also: http://twitter.com/NashuaTelegraph

  7. Damon Kiesow
    Damon Kiesow 9 years ago .Reply

    As a second to Yoni and Ryan’s comments – Twitter is great for mini-channels:

    http://www.twitter.com/telegraphpats
    http://www.twitter.com/telegraphsox

    I would actually get rid of our SMS alerts service if i thought i could convince a significant number of readers to sign up for Twitter instead.

  8. Damon Kiesow
    Damon Kiesow 9 years ago .Reply

    As a second to Yoni and Ryan's comments – Twitter is great for mini-channels: http://www.twitter.com/telegraphpats http://www.twitter.com/telegraphsox I would actually get rid of our SMS alerts service if i thought i could convince a significant number of readers to sign up for Twitter instead.

  9. […] How about a Twitter city desk? – Steve Outing “But how about asking city editors (or whatever you call your front-line editors) to feed a breaking-news Twitter flow throughout the day? For people who want to know what’s going on as quickly as possible, this could be a valuable service (and, I bet, (tags: internet newspapers journalism blogging twitter) […]

  10. […] How about a Twitter city desk? How about asking city editors to feed a breaking-news Twitter flow throughout the day? For people who want to know what’s going on as quickly as possible, this could be a valuable service (and, I bet, popular among news junkies). (tags: twitter newspapers journalism blogging newspaper social+media) […]

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