Lazy Journalist’s Twitter Guide

So you’re going to write a story on Twitter?

Easy. Say Twitter is rubbish. Hunt around for a couple of examples of nutters tweeting rubbish and that will prove your case. Best are the altmed nutters and chiropractors trying to drum up business.

Don’t bother to find any good tweets. Don’t try to use the Advanced Search function to weed out the rubbish. Just write the story that you think will sell your stuff, usually for your dying paper based affair owned by Rupert Murdoch. After all that’s what the readers want, isn’t it?

Make sure you tell your readers Twitter is all unbalanced rubbish, just like your forebears told us the internet was, probably just like your forebears’ forebears said the Guttenberg press was. Don’t tell your readers there are ways to navigate twitter, that would be like pointing a child to the library catalogue.

But if you change your mind. Try this search for example on the H1N1 (swine flu) scare.

h1n1  -maps -map filter:links -USDA

or

swine -maps -map filter:links -USDA

That will give you results minus “map” and “maps”, since we’ve all seen the googlemap by now. And it will only give results which include a link (tweeters who want you to understand why they make the claim). And it will weed out all the pig lovers who want advice from the US Department of Agriculture.

You might also be surprised at the different results swine versus H1N1 gives. Maybe the H1N1 tweets are more accurate, maybe not.  You be the judge, that’s what you’re paid for.

Keep reading for a while and before long you might find tweets striving for accuracy, not like you do. Oh yes, and try following @CDCemergency, then tell your readers Twitter is crap. But don’t think too hard or you’ll spoil your story.

Kevin McCready

1401GMT

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