The Convergence Point

Because Story is independent of medium

Building a Good News Tweet

with 2 comments

Headlines alone won’t save us.

Tweets that read “Japanese Town Holds on to Hope,”  or Russia, U.S. warm up  on missile defense,” may work for national news outlets. But local news outlets don’t work the same way.

Let’s face it, local stories don’t pack that kind of national-interest punch. They’re necessary, but they won’t draw the same kind of traffic.  The local paper fights with the national outlets on the reader’s twitter feed – and it goes down before the bell .

If we want to win that fight,  we need to box southpaw.

I chatted over the airwaves with John McElhenny, former Globe and AP reporter, and now PR for Matter Communications, and he raised a few practices that stand local news out from the twitter cloud.

News Twitter Basics – ( I’ll hit each one of them in a little more depth this week.)

Written News on Radio Time – Pushing the “this-just-in” button happens only on the air, and for a long time, the only “air time” doled out to newspapers came in “breaking news.” Where I’m working, we use this on most days, and it’s an early morning post with part of the night’s story.  Twitter feeds let us get in  updates as a story moves to  press, or the online posting deadline. They also let the reader in on what the reporter’s thinking.

Short, Sweet, and Viral – Twitter keeps it brief. On the air, keeping it short works. If we keep our writing succinct, and capture the narrative in under 150 characters, people might find it worth sharing.

Localize – The hastag (#TheConvergencePoint), lets readers find news in their community. It’s one advantage the local networks have. We can point people to their community news site, and show them where the breaking story’s happening, or where we are at any given moment.

Breaking the Robot – News tweets should balance conversational tone and “news voice.” Twitter provides a new space for journalists to show that they’re real people too.


Written by Steven A. Fletcher

March 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Great post. Required reading for old time newspaper folk who refuse to adapt.

    I always thought that when using a hashtag you couldn’t have spaces or it would only pick up the word after the #
    So if you wanted to use #The Convergence Point you might want to use #TheConvergencePoint or #ConvergencePoint. I could be wrong but that’s the way i thought it worked.

    Joey C

    March 22, 2011 at 5:55 am

    • Joey, you’re absolutely right. Hashtags only work for the word immediately following. It’s edited above.


      Steven A. Fletcher

      March 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

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