Journalists are obsessed with Twitter. Obsessed. They use it, talk about it, analyze it, deconstruct it, reconstruct it, love it, hate it, capitalize on it, become experts on it, monetize it, argue about it, and become micro-famous on it. They are mesmerized with what it is and they are as giddy as Tom Cruise on Oprah just thinking about what it could be.
Last Wednesday, MediaBistro held a panel discussion titled, "Journalists and Social Media: Sources, Skills, and the Writer." The panelists included NYU professor and PressThink author Jay Rosen, NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin, BusinessWeek.com community editor Shirley Brady, and Daily Beast columnist Rachel Sklar. The four journalists discussed which social networks they liked best, their top concerns for the industry, and what they saw as the future of journalism. The main topic of conversation, however, was (of course) Twitter.
Twitter is popular not just because it allows journalists to crowdsource with thousands of people or because it's a fun way of amassing followers and inflating egos. It also gives reporters a chance to create a new system of reporting. In the past, journalists were confined to their words and research methods, all dictated by traditional routines. Now they can create new strategies, use different tools, brand themselves differently, and propose new ideas. Twitter has given them hope and direction to do this because it has given them a public forum in which to loudly speak their ideas.