Reinventing the Newsroom

Thoughts on Twitter and Personality

Posted in Social Media, The Journalist as Brand, Twitter by reinventingthenewsroom on May 4, 2010

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center looks at the question of Twitter and whether personal tweets are a welcome bit of color in a news feed or noise that threatens to crowd out signal.

The genesis of the column was something odd that happened in Major League Baseball last week: A number of beat writers for MLB.com tweeted that they’d been told to limit their tweets to baseball. Those tweets were then deleted — as were tweets by some of the writers pointing out that they’d created personal accounts. That touched off a row about heavyhanded control, with MLB officials insisting that an email reminder had been mistaken for a change in policy.

Whatever the case, the furor did get at an issue that journalists and news organizations will have to grapple with: How much personality is too much in someone’s Twitter stream? (Particularly now that tweets are often funneled into news feeds based on lists or hashtags, exposing them to people who don’t necessarily follow a given journalist.) I wish I had answers, but I don’t: Twitter is so new that there isn’t broad agreement about best practices. It will be fascinating to see what accepted standards emerge, and why.

Any opinions about the right mix of news and personality in one’s Twitter feed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email. Or what the heck, let me know on Twitter.

One Response

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  1. Andrew Gordon said, on May 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I think it depends on the kind of news as well as the individual writer. One Twitter feed that I follow is Alan Sepinwall’s, who is a TV critic for HitFix.com. A great deal of his tweeting is links to his posts and other TV-related news, but a lot of the stuff is about what he does. For example, yesterday he was moving out of an office and into a new one after a long time, and some tweets were about this move. I found this stuff pretty interesting because I’m generally interested in Sepinwall as a personality in addition to his identity as a news-provider/writer.

    On the other hand, I will almost certainly not subscribe to a feed by a news writer whose tweets are entirely about what they eat for breakfast and how they had no hot water for their morning shower, etc. A mix of personal information, personal information that links to the tweeter’s profession, and professional information is best, I think.


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