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article imageMicroblogging On The Campaign Trail

By Angelique van Engelen     Feb 17, 2008 in Internet
Live reporting via microblogging tools is receiving a boost due to the US primaries. Various newspapers are sending their reporters on the campaign trail who are supplementing their stories with tweets about significant developments.
It is especially the Twitter microblogging tool which is is making inroads into some prestigious mainstream media as a result of the primaries. Slate’s political reporter John Dickerson (formerly the Washington correspondent for Time magazine) is a point in case. His campaign trail tweets have attracted quite a bit of interest from fellow reporters and his readership.
“It is much more authentic, because it really is from inside the room,” Dickersone is quoted as commenting on his latest sojourn. And that’s right on. Dickerson’s tweets are published in the direct vicinity of his stories alongside the Google Twitter mashup map which is pre-set to exact trail locations. The whole package on one page is a fine example of really getting the best out of all the tools available. Not only do you have the experience you’re in a room, you really are being dragged across from place to place. And that’s what journalism should be all about.
Let’s hope that publishing Tweets as additional information next to articles is going to take off more. It will standardize the tweets and make journalistic twittering stand out from the crowd. Unlike with journalists’ Facebook participation, most reporters have yet to distinguish between personal and professional twittering. Little or no interest by employers often means that the tweets sink into oblivion. That is a total shame, both for the media and the reporters themselves. The news is by nature a business that has people’s attention and to get additional insights from the reporter’s personal perspective in many cases adds an unusual but ever so real feel.
The renewed Twitter hype, if anything, has underscored that an existence as a roving reporter has not lost all its glamorous lore due to the masses’ catching on to the journalistic buzz factor.’s Ana Marie Cox’ tweets are a terrific example of this. They are a mix of hard nosed journalism, brilliant wit and humoristic insights.
Time does not publish the tweets next to Cox’ stories I get the impression but it list links to the Tweet and to a Flickr account. That’s very similar to the way the BBC’s Ben Hammersley reported on the Turkish elections last year. That was an interesting experiment, but I bet you had a Tweet been embedded into the BBC news pages, Hammersley would have been still at it. If you look at his Tweet now, you can see that it’s been months since he last updated. Hammersley’s own web presence has the Twitter spirit written all over it though. He has managed to incorporate all the right channels on one page, which gives you a razor sharp idea of what this roving reporter is all about.
disclosure: Angelique van Engelen writes for the reporTwitters blog.
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