Nieman Foundation at Harvard
U.S. police have attacked journalists at least 100 times in the past four days
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June 10, 2011, 9 a.m.

#Twittermakesyouloved: Jill Abramson’s now on Twitter

“What’s the over/under on when @JillAbramson’s first tweet will arrive?” Felix Salmon tweeted yesterday. “I’m betting not until September, when she takes over from @nytkeller.”

Turns out, he didn’t have to wait that long. Shortly after he posted his question, the Reuters blogger got his reply:

@felixsalmon wrong!

The answer came from the newly minted — and newly verified — account of Abramson herself. The soon-to-be Times editor was fresh out of a “twittorial” conducted by Times social media editors Liz Heron and Lexi Mainland.

So what did she learn during the session?

“Jill didn’t need a lot of encouragement to try Twitter,” Heron told me over email. The twittorial “was really just to show her around the site and get her versed in Twitter’s unique conventions, like @handles and hashtags,” she said. “We suggested a few initial accounts she might like to follow within the newsroom, and she’ll be building that list herself as she goes along. All in all, she took to it quite naturally. She’s already sending cheeky @-replies.”

The reply to Salmon was actually the new Times editor’s second tweet. (The first: “I’m back from a terrific seminar at the @ArmyWarCollege in Pennsylvania on national security issues. More later…”) And — I promise I will never watch anyone’s Twitter feed so closely again, but — the third was a “thanks pal” reply to the Times’ op-ed page editor, Andy Rosenthal.

On the one hand, of course, it’s ridiculous to care so much about a single Twitter feed. “Getting Twitter” isn’t the same as “getting the web”; whether the Times’ new editor personally takes to social media more readily than her predecessor is largely beside the point. (Jay Rosen: “I don’t think it’s weird that Jill Abramson hasn’t tweeted a thing yet Nor do I care if she ever does. Run the Times!”)

Then again, though, during this interregnum, we media-watchers (and especially we future-of-media-watchers) are always looking for clues as to the general mindset of the person who will guide the Times into its future. Is she open to the web? Is she open to openness? Does she, you know, “get it”? Until September, when actions will speak more loudly than words, Twitter is a kind of default proxy for overall webbiness.

In that sense, yesterday’s tweets, conversational and cheeky and generally webby, brought good news. (Salmon: “@jillabramson is officially my new favorite person on Twitter”) Heron was probably speaking for many denizens of the twitterverse when she noted: “We’re looking forward to her tweets.”

POSTED     June 10, 2011, 9 a.m.
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