I am at a complete loss when I see some newspapers who are attempting to use Twitter as a new means of distributing and promoting digital content not following anyone, or following very few.
First of all, how can you use it interact with your readers if you are not following any of them?
Using “social” media as a one-way communication device is so counterintuitive that it kind of figures traditional newspaper folks would be the ones to do it that way.
In addition to pure story tips you wouldn’t have received without Twitter, or nearly as fast, we are finding that it helps us learn all kinds of things about what our readers care about and the type of information they are seeking at a given moment.
It has pushed us into more intensive and speedier coverage of some basic stuff (but basic stuff that was not the domain of traditional newspaper organizations) such as winter storm road conditions, traffic alerts and school closings.
It has helped us realize how strongly folks feel about issues such as a controversy about yellow ribbons being banned on the Litchfield Town Green.
And in real time, Twitter has enabled us to see when a politician’s decisions or words create a backlash that could turn out to be a turning point in public sentiment. For example, reaction to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s statement, tweeted immediately by several news outlets, in a debate the other night that “lawsuits create jobs.” Or our tweeting of a congressional candidate’s speech in Torrington on Tuesday that “10 million of the nation’s uninsured don’t have health insurance because they don’t want it.”