The relationship between journalism and Twitter is full of pros and cons. Some journalists embrace the instant connection and new news gathering process it offers, but others seem to be more intimidated by its speed and the possiblity of using it to spread false information.
It seems that on the plus side, Twitter and other social networking sites allow people to relay news that wouldn’t otherwise get out, as seen in cases like the revolutions in Egypt and Lybia. Even in the U.S., where the media experiences full First Amendment protection, Twitter is used to break news that the media hasn’t even learned about yet as people themselves experience an event and tweet it.
For small news organizations or individuals who blog and spread news to their communities, Twitter provides a convenient platform for them to get their names and news out there. By using Twitter to start a conversation, to include the audience in the reporting process, or to find sources, reporters are able to open a form of interaction into their journalism.
While the openness of Twitter can in fact be used to spread false information, that openness and interaction also works as fact checking.
But some organizations, like BBC, have decided the cons of Tweeting journalists outweigh the pros. The policy is journalists for the BBC can’t tweet breaking news before they’ve filed a story because it would “slow down the process of getting newsworthy stories into the BBC’s newsroom.”
The issue I see with that policy is because it’s not only journalists tweeting about news, shouldn’t the BBC journalists who know some news tweet it as soon as possible so that they can get the news out to their followers before, or at lease at the same time, as the random people who are also aware of the news?
On a list of tips for making the most of Twitter, “who you follow is so important” and “it’s OK to get a little obsessed.” Following those guidelines, it seems that it would be important for news organizations to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. They need to tweet to build followers, and they need to update as quickly and often as possible to get a little obsessed with tweeting.
But I suppose they do run a greater risk when they tweet false information than do everyday citizens.
Twitter also allows a lot of personal expression, and some news organizations may just wish to keep communication regular and simple rather than immediate and never ending. Twitter is of course changing things, even the laws regarding speech, but people might just have to be OK with people accepting the changes at different rates.
Because tweets are so frequent, Twitter, more so than Facebook, allows people to open up their ideas and opinions to everyone. From an organization’s point of view, maybe allowing employees to tweet is intimidating because it sort of causes the organization to take on the identity of its employees rather than, at least while working, the employees taking on the identity of their workplace.