5 ways Twitter made me a better journalist

Posted October 3rd, 2011 by in

My Twitter profile. Follow me: @SharonJGreen

Twitter has been hailed the top online tool for journalists. RMIT online journalism lecturer Renee Barnes spoke about this in a previous blog post. So what are the key things that Twitter has taught me to improve my writing skills? How has it allowed me to make the most of being a journalist?

Here are the top five ways Twitter has made me a better journalist:

1. Twitter taught me to write succinctly
If you’re a “wordy” writer Twitter will force you to say exactly what you want to say, in as few words as possible. It can be difficult to compose a message in 140 characters or less so Twitter can help you to improve your copywriting and headline writing skills. It has also made me think hard about writing effective headlines and titles for online articles and blog posts and has therefore taught me to communicate those ideas as succinctly as possible. Twitter forces you to cut out the fluff, get to the point, and be concise.

2. Twitter lists have helped me to find sources for my stories
Whether you’re looking for talent, spokespeople, experts or other sources for your stories, organising your Twitter lists into categories can help you find them quickly. I have multiple lists that help me with this on a daily basis. Consider creating lists on Twitter through which you can sort your followers into groups so it is easy to find them later. For example, if you’re a journalist who frequently writes across education, environment and political issues why not create lists for each of these categories? It will be easy to locate and get in touch with a source in a specific field if you have filed them into a Twitter list.

3. It’s given me the opportunity to participate as a citizen journalist
Disseminating news and information via Twitter has given me the chance to engage with the medium from a different perspective. I’ve tweeted live from events, broken local news, and shared information as it happens via Twitter. Consequently, I’ve received a boost in relevant followers who share similar interests and are willing to engage with me on those specific topics. This has allowed me to interact with and respond to people from the perspective of being a public news creator without the limitations of a traditional news media setting.

4. It allows me to interact with my audience
Twitter not only allows me to share links to my stories but provides a channel for my audience to send through immediate feedback and responses to my articles. It also gives me a greater sense of what my readers want. From time to time, I’ve even posed questions to my followers (often based around a topic I am writing about at the time) to gain another perspective, opinion or insight into that discussion. In turn, this gives me a clearer indication of the type of content my audience enjoys consuming and allows me to have a better direction when selecting story ideas and blog topics.

5. Twitter has allowed me to establish myself in the media industry
By far, Twitter has been the most useful and valuable tool that I’ve used to position myself as a journalist. Through Twitter alone I have been able to self-promote my writing services, share links to my articles, collaborate thoughts and ideas with my readers and network with fellow media professionals. It has been, and continues to be, my primary source for breaking news and a constant pool of information through which I can access topics of personal interest. I have also been approached, numerous times, directly through Twitter for work opportunities and article commissions. In its essence, Twitter has supported what I do for a living and provides a platform for me to continue my online presence as a journalist.


How has using Twitter helped you in your work as a journalist?