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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Twitter for Newsrooms as a relationship-building guide

One of the most novel things about Twitter is that, from the beginning, they let the audience discover the best ways to use it. From hashtags to retweets, many of Twitter’s best features bubbled up from users, and journalists have developed, by trial and error, our own special tricks for writing and sourcing stories and drawing eyeballs to our work.

That may have shifted subtly today with the launch of Twitter for Newsrooms, an official comprehensive guide on using Twitter in the world of news.

The guide, also known as #TfN, was developed by the Twitter Media team and aims to be a one-stop shop, from learning the basics up to more advanced ways of using the network in journalism.

Covering subject areas like reporting, engagement, and publishing, the site seems like a combination of “how to” (use search, find sources, customize your profile) and a directory of services (a Twitter-related tools, an Extra page, with handy links for support). It’s also not without a few celebrity (okay, news celebrity) appearances. ABC’s Jake Tapper, NPR’s Andy Carvin, and Katie Couric (of CBS most recently) serving as examples of effective tweeting.

Twitter for Newsrooms also appears to be a way for Twitter to give a boost to features journalists may have forgotten about. As this exchange between Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa and Twitter Media’s Robin Sloan and Chloe Sladden shows, even things like advanced Twitter search can be new if you’ve never seen it before.

I spoke to Erica Anderson, the newest member of the Twitter Media team, about the new resource, which she said is a culmination of a lot of work. “Twitter for newsrooms is a synthesis of a lot of resources the company has been working on for years,” she said. It’s also a response to a lot of questions Twitter receives from journalists on a regular basis, something Anderson said ranges from “‘my boss lost his password and can’t login’ to ‘we need to know the most effective way to search when news is breaking.’” But it also serves as a best practices guide, especially by highlighting the work other news outlets and individual journalists are doing, Anderson said. They’ll be regularly updating the site and are looking for feedback on what to include.

Twitter for Newsrooms has some commonalities with Facebook + Journalists, which similarly is a resource for helping reporters and editors navigate the new world of social-assisted journalism. But the two resources also seem to share a common wisdom: that it’s time to take back control of the expertise and resource market. It goes without saying that it helps Twitter and Facebook to have outreach programs and tools for journalists, especially as more of us use the services. With something like Twitter for Newsrooms, the more socially inclined journalist will have something to point their more skeptical colleague to. (“See, it works for Ann Curry!“) Will it change minds? Not necessarily, but it may help curry favor with uncertain editors and help push Twitter more into mainstream use for newspapers.

In a way, Twitter for Newsrooms is all about relationships. By offering itself up as a resource for reporters to engage with their audience, Twitter is also signaling it wants to get a little closer with journalists, who’ve collectively been one of the platform’s biggest promoters.

                                   
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Ken Doctor    Aug. 25, 2014
“Things” editor, distribution editor, correspondent for progress — as newsrooms change, so do the ways they organize their human resources.