John Dickerson, chief political correspondent at Slate, says the popularity of microblogging site Twitter among journalists is nothing to be scared of. In a recent column in Nieman Reports, Dickerson says Twitter, while not the “next great thing in journalism” either, can be quite a useful tool. He writes:
“We can all agree that journalism shouldn’t get any smaller, but Twitter doesn’t threaten the traditions of our craft. It adds, rather than
subtracts, from what we do…As I spend nearly all of my time on the road these days reporting on the presidential campaigns, Twitter is the perfect place for all of those asides I’ve scribbled in the hundreds of notebooks I have in my garage from the campaigns and stories I’ve covered over the years. Inside each of those notebooks are little pieces of color I’ve picked up along the way. Sometimes these snippets are too off-topic or too inconsequential to work into a story. Sometimes they are the little notions or sideways thoughts that become the lede of a piece or the kicker. All of them now have found a home on Twitter.”
A couple of examples of Twitter posts from Dickerson’s time on the road reporting on the U.S. presidential campaigns:
Here’s an entry from a McCain rally during the Republican primaries: “Weare, NH: Audience man to McCain: ‘I heard that Hershey is moving plants to Mexico and I’ll be damned if I’m going to eat Mexican chocolate.'” In Scranton covering Barack Obama I sent this: “Obama: ‘What’s John McCain’s problem?’ Audience member: ‘He’s too old’ Obama: ‘No, no that’s not the problem. There are a lot of wise people” With so many Democrats making an issue of McCain’s age, here was the candidate in the moment seeming to suggest that critique was unfair.
Surely there are some great examples out there of Canadian journalists using Twitter in this way.