Friday 27 May 2011

Twitter for journalists: @fieldproducer on structuring the chaos (#Newsrw)

"If Reuters is your example of a solid news wire, Twitter is Reuters on acid, crack and cocaine", says Neal Mann. Often referred to both on- and offline as @fieldproducer, Mann has been building a reputation as one of the leading exponents of Twitter for news.

Mann harnesses his use of Twitter to traditional journalistic practices and values. He says journalists need to structure their Twitter use in the same way that news organisations have always structured newsgathering. 

Mann has lists for topics and subjects in the same way that news organisations have specialist correspondents and areas of interest.

He also describes Twitter as his "patch" and, probably inadvertently echoes Gaye Tuchman's "news net", when he talks about "casting a net" across the platform to find interested journalists, bloggers and news junkies.

Although he now follows thousands of sources, he emphasises standing up the story through traditional sources and verifying information.

Mann argues that merely following people on Twitter, however, does not optimise its potential. He says his newsgathering is enhanced by his use of Twitter as a news publication tool. He says journalists should be broadcasting as well as receiving and interacting with people on Twitter on a regular basis. 

By becoming a known "node" in the Twitter network he claims that people are more likely to tip him off with news stories.

He also builds an interested audience for certain seasons of his journalism. By tweeting daily links around the Wikileaks story, for example, he built a following of people who were interested in Wikileaks prior to his own work for Sky News covering the Julian Assange bail hearings last year.


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