August 5, 2008

My Twitter obsession, continued…

So we’re still Tweeting away at work.

We started it as a fun way of connecting to a new audience at work; we push out the usual blood/guts headlines, but try to include some personality with our posts when applicable. Personality – the one thing I think most newspapers completely lack.

An example: Joe and I had been creating noon-time Twizzlers (tweet + quiz …. funny, right?) and our Twizzler the other day was “What’s the best waffle topping? A) Berries B) Syrup C) Batman. Sure it’s meaningless and 99% of our traditional newsroom would hemorrhage from knowing we had posted such a flippant question to our audience, but the truth is – it worked. We had a lot of responses. The winner (arbitrarily chosen, of course) won “a bag of internets”. Would a traditional news source have done something like that? I don’t think so.

Of course, now we have to wonder about how long it’s going to be until we are asked to stop or are fired.

The biggest pay-off has been the fun. Truth is, for a long time our dept. has been suffering from a deflating moral – while we’re in an exciting industry, the shrinking staff and wildly increasing demands have turned our jobs from fun and experimental to repetitive and smooth. Our fun has carried beyond Twitter and into our entire department, something for which I know we are all thankful.

Assuming I don’t get fired for Twittering without a license, I can’t think of anything wrong with this great new service. We are connecting with our community in a whole new way – and I don’t mean that bullshit connecting, but a real connection, where people are once again thankful for the news and appreciative of the service we provide. Remember that? Yes, gratitude. It’s another part of our industry that’s been bleeding on the sidewalk for a long time.

One of the most respected bloggers in J-ville even posted this on his blog tonight: “If you use Twitter, which I’ve recently become addicted to, you really should be following jaxdotcom. The Times-Union, our little prehistoric paper, has found a new-tech way to circumvent the traditional news cycle. I love it! It’s my favorite new fix.”

There’s no way of describing how satisfying that is to us. If you happen to be a newspaper type reading this and wonder “What’s the big deal about a local blogger praising the dominant media in town?” then you have completely missed the point. We have become relevant to a young, smart, influential member of this community and to me that’s worth more than a lifetime’s worth of front-page bylines.

Tonight’s score,
Jaxdotcom: 81 Judson: 216

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