Should ALL new journalists be on Twitter? (Yes).

July 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

Twitter front page

A ‘budding 23-year-old journalist’ was recently commissioned to write an article for a national paper, in which she made it clear she’d like more journalism work.

It was a great, well written piece. She has a distinctive name but when I went to share the article on Twitter I couldn’t find her to properly attribute the piece.

We discussed her article in the morning meeting at work and considered chatting to her about it on the radio*. I made the point that I thought any journalist starting out SHOULD be on Twitter. Not everyone agreed.

Stupid Twitter

Why should you have to be on Twitter? It’s geeky and annoying. It’s yet another social media fad soon to be replaced with something else (? – a whole other debate entirely). Why does everything these days have to be online and tweeted every five seconds? Why can’t you cut your teeth as a journalist through pure journalistic talent? Isn’t Twitter just for posting what you had for lunch?** (These aren’t actually all things my colleagues said).

I think a lot of that is largely irrelevant to this question. Whether you think Twitter is useful, and whether you want to be on there or not is sort of beside the point. If you’re starting out as a journalist I think there’s no question that you SHOULD be on there.

Clever Twitter!

Twitter Screenshot

Please don’t tweet about food

How can you keep track of what your peers are doing if you’re not on there? All the people at the top of their game in the journalism industry are on there – surely you need to know what they’re up to and how they’re using it? Surely if they’re using Twitter you just look like you’re left behind if you’re not? How can you properly track breaking news unless you’re watching the social networks people around the world currently use to break it? How can you build and develop your skills in social media? Even if you don’t care, you need them, and need to prove to potential employers that you have them. All of this is more acute when you’re younger; when you should be at the cutting edge of such things.

I’m not arguing (though I could) that people who have already-established journalism careers need to be on there. Or that new journalists have to be really active users. And I’m not wanging on about the importance of Twitter itself. I’m simply stating that if you’re starting out as a new journalist, you SHOULD be on Twitter.


*We never talked to her on the radio because, as well as not being on Twitter, her blog had only one generic email address which produced no response all day.

**This is an increasingly boring comment to make.

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