I know I’m not alone in this battle. And maybe use of the word “battle” is incorrect. But sometimes it sure feels like one. But there must be hundereds of newsrooms like mine where the reporters are slow to try new technology and often hold up their “Oh great, more work” placards whenever something new is introduced to them.
I can sympathize. For a mid-size paper, we really have a tiny newsroom. Five news reporters, two full-time photogs and three sports guys. We cover Central Nebraska. That’s a lot of ground to cover for eight people. And so I feel this huge burden of guilt whenever I want to ask them to use a new tool for getting the info out. I like my newsroom and the people who work it, and the last thing I want is to add to their workload.
But there are some tools out there that would either be minimal work, or perhaps even ease the workload. It’s just a matter of finding a way to make them understand that. Twitter is such a great tool. How cool would it be if we could tweet a breaking news story before anyone else? Just takes a simple cell phone text and wham-bam we beat the competition.
Or how about tweeting the scores from a local ballgame? Or texting/tweeting updates from a volatile city council session or high profile court hearing? Drive by a terrible accident? Send a tweet, let the followers know to avoid a certain intersection during high traffic.
It’s so easy. And so far, in my 4 years here, getting Twitter introduced and used by anyone other than me has been one of my biggest obstacles.
Ryan Sholin wrote an interesting article in which he says “…stop thinking about Twitter as a place on the Web, and start thinking about it as a platform for publishing.” I like that thought because it underscores one of the major problems in overcoming this obstacle: Twitter perception.
Twitter is a silly name. “Tweet” is a silly name for referring to the updates. It doesn’t sound professional. And when trying to explain the service to the newsroom, I get giggles everytime I say “tweet.” So the perception is that Twitter is just a flash-in-the-pan social media-whosit-thingie that will go the way of using Blogger to post news updates.
I’ll tell you who my biggest obstacle is, and that is our head sports editor. Nice guy, good writer, but looks upon the web as a denizen of basement-dwelling freaks who should come into the light more often. Nothing I say can change his mind, and so unless the order comes down from on high, I don’t think he’ll ever listen to me.
The rest of the newsroom… well, we have two reporters who have been willing to try new things, such as using the handhelds to grab video or even blogging (though one gave up blogging when his traffic dropped after we switched layouts and he couldn’t be featured as prominently as before.) The others seem indifferent.
Yesterday I sent an email to them asking them, again, to do what they can to check in on the comments their stories generate. One replied back asking me basically if I’d just do it for them and let them know when there’s a good one they can look at. I blinked a few times, and scratched my head. I think they missed the point.
But today, my publisher emailed them and backed me up (yay!) and also pimped the use of Twitter as something they need to be doing. After I fainted, I quickly threw together a quick Twitter For Dummies page and sent it to them in the hopes that the publisher’s email combined with the message that they must help us interact with our readers would get them interested in learning more about Twitter.
That was early this morning. It’s nearly time to go home now, and I haven’t heard a peep from any of them. And this is where I stand right now. I’m almost thinking that I should just set up Twitter accounts for each of them, go around and give them training whether they want it or not. I’m really frustrated. And I know I’m not the only one experiencing this problem.
If anyone finds their way to my little blog here who has any advice that doesn’t involve nagging the newsroom until they all hate me, I would greatly appreciate it. I can nag if I have to, but I’d rather not.
[UPDATE 081308] One photographer is now on his way to Twitterdom! he tweeted his first tweet this morning, and is set up to tweet from his phone. I asked his old friend and fellow photog, who is a regular tweeter, to give him some encouragment and help if he needs it so yay! I’m hoping for a domino effect here. While I was helping to get him set up, the other photog wandered in to watch and asked a question or two. Fingers crossed!
I think when the new/old videographer starts back up next week, I’m going to ask him to sign up as well.