Twitter basics

It seems like we’ve reached peak Twitter, with lots of people pointing out how horrible it is. You may or may not have used Twitter before, but it’s very popular with journalists working in the UK and it can be useful to set up a professional Twitter account for use during the course.

So what does a “professional” Twitter account mean?

As broadcast journalists, we use Twitter in three main ways. 1. To find and research stories. 2. To communicate with our audiences and 3. To promote our work.

However we use it, we will be visible as journalists so we need to behave professionally.

That means some basic things need to be in place from the start.

You should have a Twitter “handle” that is clear and easy to understand (e.g. avoid using lots of numbers because this will make your account look like a robot.)

A good handle might be something like @PeterSmithMedia

You should have a clear portrait photograph of your face and a straightforward easy to understand biography.

So your biography could be something like:

Trainee Broadcast Journalist @CardiffJomec — interested in travel, football and food.

Life before Twitter

Finally, as a broadcast journalist working in the UK, you should avoid using your professional Twitter account to express your opinions about stories, politics etc. If, for example, your Twitter is full of stuff that makes it clear which political party you support, you might want to “clean it up” — or create a new account.

The Director General of the BBC has issued strict new rules about how BBC staff should behave on social media. See here. Can you find the JOMEC connection to this story?

Also, read this story about an email sent to journalists at Sky News about how they should use Twitter. It will give you an idea of how broadcast journalists in the UK are told to use social media. And there’s more on that here.

Set up a professional Twitter account for yourself. Make sure it has a user-friendly handle, a clear biography and a good photograph. Create a new account if you don’t want to change your existing one. WhatsApp me if you need help/advice.

Once you’ve set up your Twitter account, take a look at Tweetdeck. Here’s an intro to it.

When you tweet while you are covering a story, try to make it something like this. Note that there is a clear photo of the contributor. A couple of hashtags are fine. Don’t put lots in. If you are interviewing somebody with their own Twitter account make sure you include it.

There’s more information and advice about using Twitter here:

There’s a very clear explanation of “How Twitter Works” written — by a judge — at the end of this document (p.25). It’s really worth reading.

Finally there is a lot of useful information about staying safe online when you work as a journalist in this document.

New Yorker

The Economist