The main idea behind Twitter is to gain followers whom share the same interests, goals, hobbies, etc as you do and to provide daily, hourly, even minute by minute updates of what goes on in one’s life. For journalists, it can be a vital tool in gaining a targeted fan base because sharing stories/news/top updates is so incredibly simple and they are easily accessible to one’s followers.Many well known journalists today have taken to Twitter and needless to say have gained a large fanbase. Some of these journalists include: Lisa Remillard of ABC Action News; Anderson Cooper of CNN; and Paula Francis of Channel 8 Eyewitness News. Remillard tweets on a variety of topics such as what’s going on in the entertainment world, politics, etc., and a lot of the time includes short links to articles about the content of which she tweets. Cooper also tweets about a variety of topics, including: presidential news, issues going on nationally and internationally, and even his own personal tweets about the events that take place in his everyday life. He, too, includes links in his tweets.

Despite its popularity, some print journalists have expressed their beliefs that Twitter simply is not journalism. According to Twitter Isn’t Journalism from businessweek.com, “Twitter’s limitation make it a poor medium for news coverage.” In other words, the 140 characters allotted is not enough for a journalist to convey his or her message, according to Michael De Monte. I believe it is.

In her article entitled, Everything I Need to Know About Twitter I Learned in J School, Ann Handley makes a list of eight things to do in order to create the perfect tweets. She begins with 1. Make every word count. This is probably the most important because of the fact that Twitter does only allow 140 characters. The last is consider your reader, and she says “if you respect your audience of followers similar to the way journalists consider their readers, you’ll spend more time thinking about what to tweet, than you will actually doing it.”

Obviously, a journalist cannot provide a full on feature via Twitter, but he can definitely keep his followers in suspense and leave them wanting more with a solid lead. Handley provides the following example:

Of course, there are hazards with using Twitter. Journalists have to keep in mind that everything that is said (or tweeted) is permanent, even if one deletes it. It is also not safe for one to tweet negatively about their place of work or business, as they risk getting fired.
A simple way for journalists to see and to be heard is via Twitter, as they can establish relationships with their followers by providing information that they feel is of importance, and to answer any questions that they may have (a lot quicker might I add than via articles or columns). One should think of Twitter as an important journalistic tool that updates a journalist’s fans or followers almost instantaneously.