I heard something yesterday that really bothered me.
I was sitting in a session about social media at the Watchdog Journalism Workshop hosted by McClatchy and Queens University of Charlotte and someone asked the inevitable question about scooping themselves on Twitter.
Why, they wondered, would you post breaking news on Twitter when you're not linking back to your site and don't get the pageviews? Isn't the point of Twitter, he said, to drive people to your site?
That part bothered me enough that I actually spoke, something I normally try to avoid in those situations. But what he said next was worse.
"My editor would kill me if I tweeted."
Even the leader of the session was taken aback and said he hoped that wasn't true. Whether it's true or not, the fact that a reporter in 2011 is scared to tweet or use social media is frightening.
First, he is missing the point of social media, which both I and others in the audience tried to drive home: social media is about building a community and interacting. As a reporter, you build your brand and reputation through social media. Even if you're not driving traffic with every tweet, if the community comes to trust you through Twitter they will come to you both for information -- going to your stories online and in the paper -- and with information, leads and story ideas you can use in the future.
If my followers on Twitter trust me as the go-to source for sports news in south Charlotte, when I tweet something about Providence High football, they're probably going to click the link because they trust me and have interacted with me in the past. If all I do is spit out links, they'll likely get bored and move on.
If there is an editor out there who is so against social media, we need to have an intervention. Reporters should be tweeting. All of them, in my opinion.
Good journalists should engage with their audience and start conversations. It's a big part of what we do. That's why I make a point to respond to every tweet, answer every email and return every call. You never know what may come of it.