A 'Twitter style' for journalists?

Published 2011-03-17

That's why I'd like to see news organizations and professional journalists use our leadership potential within this community to establish some additional conventions - ones that would help more people get better information when news breaks.

Robert Niles builds off of something that Jeff Jarvis brought up a week ago: Some way of distinguishing those who are witnessing news and those who are re-conveying news on Twitter.

Writes Niles:
"Fresh information can be lost between endless retweets of old information. Massive retweeting also allows false information to spread globally, gaining credibility with reach RT. While those of us who've taken the time to sharpen the list of sources we follow are rewarded with accurate, timely updates, too many Twitter users fail to enjoy the tool's potential because they simply don't know which feeds to follow when news breaks."

Some suggestions from Jarvis and Niles on a Twitter style for journalists and one of my own.

-- A modified hashtag for eyewitness accounts in breaking news situations (Jarvis)

For years now, we've all seen # being passed around Twitter. It's a great way to sort information; it's the same as a police scanner frequency. Dial in what you are looking for and find out what's going on. Jarvis has modified his orginal idea, which will allow the "police scanner" model to continue. So eyewitnesses to events -- primary sources to those in the biz-- use add a "!" after the hastag. So here in Madison, #wiunion would become #wiunion! for those of us taking the scene in first-hand.

-- Journalists geotag tweets, unless they felt it would endanger themselves or sources (Niles)

-- Use MT when a reporter retweets information in a post, but modifies it in some way (Niles)

-- Other abbreviations: HT (Hat Tip, or Heard Through); RR (Repeated tweet); (Niles)

-- Recommending sources to follow in breaking news situations or on certain issues (Niles)

The biggest thing I would like to see -- and while I can't remember the exact source, I know the idea isn't mine -- is to standardize corrections in some manner. Perhaps that is where Jarvis' original ! could come into play? Anyone correcting information tweeted out on # can correct their mistakes on !?