Running a newspaper’s Twitter account: the cons.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. I’m written before about the pros of Twitter for newspapers, and the more followers we have, the better the pros get.

But because I made the decision not to run the account as  a straight RSS feed I’ve run into a few frustrations.

1. The account’s not monitored when I’m not here.

That means responses  get missed, questions are asked and not answered and news goes unspotted.

2. I don’t always agree with the angle/headline/tone/existence of a story

It’s only to be expected. I’ve been a news editor. I’ve been a sub. I’m bossy and opinonated and I like to do things my way. Sometimes people on Twitter complain about our choice or treatment of a story – and I agree with them. What to do? I don’t feel comfortable defending it. I can’t apologise for it, because on that account I represent the paper as a brand, and apologising would require the say so of the editor. If I ignore it, don’t I just seem rude?

3. Tips don’t get followed up.

People send me press releases, or links to press releases. I pass them on. They get followed up or not. I’m fine about that, it’s no different to any other form of submitting a release.

But what about when someone asks me, as the paper, to do a story? What about when the newsdesk ask me to get phone numbers for people but then the reporter doesn’t call? What about when I’ve been supporting, retweeting, telling people about charity efforts via Twitter and those people , not unreasonably, ask for a story?

Short of writing all those stories myself and then publishing them online myself, there’s not a lot I can do.

But it puts me in a difficult position with the Twitterers. Most people accept that @Bournemouthecho is the voice of the paper. That’s what we wanted, to build a brand, show people that we’re interested and engaged with them on their own turf.

If I have to tell people that ‘the brand’ is just me, and the interest and engagement stretches only as far as I can hold the newsdesk’s interest, then the whole edifice collapses. Doesn’t it?  I’d be grateful for any sage words!

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3 thoughts on “Running a newspaper’s Twitter account: the cons.

  1. Dilyan says:

    I think it is to be expected that you will disagree with some of what goes out in the paper’s name. It is not your account, but the newspaper’s; so the best would be for the author/editor responsible for the story to defend it. If they cannot (or would not) use Twitter, let them defend it for you and you can translate the defence into a Twitter-friendly statement.
    It looks like you are in the unenviable position of the odd one who does those suspicious internet things we all better stay away from — a very tough spot. But you have us twitterers to back you up if that’s any help.

  2. […] Running a newspaper’s Twitter account: the cons "But because I made the decision not to run the account as a straight RSS feed I’ve run into a few frustrations." (tags: journalism twitter newspapers) […]

  3. […] As someone who runs a newspaper’s branded Twitter account, I sympathize with Sam Shepard at Subbed Out when he details why it’s not always ideal to have a manned Twitter feed. […]

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