As a journalist in the digital age it’s important to have ways for your readers to reach you seven days a week 24 hours a day.  News is no longer just a 30-minute segment or a daily paper.  People want and demand to be informed on up to the minute breaking news.

One way journalist can achieve this is to create and maintain a professional twitter or facebook account.  In fact, it’s now become standard practice for news heavy weights like Brian Williams, who has a twitter for his nightly news show, and Anderson Cooper, who maintains his own personal twitter.  Through twitter journalist can break news to their followers far before a newscast can be put together.

However, a medium this close to the public can come with some serious hazards.  We’ve all heard about the slew of politicians who get busted for accidently posting pictures of their unmentionables, but if a respected journalist is so careless it will surely be a career-ending mistake.  It’s also pivotal that they only post on topics that have been confirmed from viable sources.  Nothings worse than having to recant a statement because it’s later found to be false.

If used correctly, social media sites can be an invaluable tool for journalist from all different backgrounds.  Having such close interaction with your public can increase your viewership and open up opportunities for intelligent discussions, but this comes with a responsibility.  A line from the Social Network comes to mind, “The Internet’s not written in pencil Mark, it’s written in ink.”  So think twice before you tweet or post – even if you delete it, you still put it out there and someone was bound to see.