I suppose you want me to DELIVER the paper, too.

Our company operates half a dozen news networks and they all have websites, Twitter feeds and –I think– Facebook pages. When I introduced our reporters to Twitter a few years ago, I made a feeble attempt to get our reporters to tweet their stories with a link back to the website. They explained they were too busy gathering and writing the news to do this, so I futzed around with RSS feeds so the stories “auto-post” to Twitter.

Since then, a few of our reporters have set up their own twitter accounts and manually post about the stories they’re covering. But for the most part, we’re still on auto-pilot.

This minor frustration was brought to mind by a story in the LA Times:

“A conversation this week in the offices of Neon Tommy, a USC student-run online news outlet, went something like this: Editor: “We should be tweeting more of the Tumblr content.” Journalist One: “You can publish automatically to Twitter from Tumblr.” Journalist Two: “But the tweets can look weird. It’s better to move the link to Bit.ly and customize it. Do your own.”

It’s pretty easy to distinguish an RSS-generated tweet from one written by a living, breathing person. The point of the story is about delivery.

“A generation ago, journalists wrote their stories and moved on to the next thing, with someone else worrying about delivery of the end product. In today’s digital world, journalists must not only create the stories but make sure they get to readers. The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism created Neon Tommy as a laboratory for these practices. Students promote their work in real time, highlight the best stories by others on the Web and repurpose old content with new analysis. That’s only a start, as they push their journalism through myriad channels to reach a maximum audience.”

So what do the folks at Neon Tommy know about serving an audience. It’s #1 among web-only college news sites (6th when thrown in with those that also produce print publications — such as the No. 1 Daily Bruin at UCLA and the No. 2 Harvard Crimson.)

I don’t spend much time nagging our reporters these days. They are no longer my responsibility. And they’re all smart people who can figure out stuff for themselves. Or not.

8 thoughts on “I suppose you want me to DELIVER the paper, too.

  1. Wait a minute. A minute-and-a-half to twitterize the headline and shorten the url? I’ll give you 60 seconds. And we’ll say you do five stories a day. Is 5 min too much time to invest to give your followers the best experience?

    But this thread is getting out of hand. Let’s end with me conceding that auto-posting from your website RSS feed is perfectly acceptable.

  2. It shouldn’t take me very long, provided I’m the author of the story.
    Using a tool like bit.ly it’s also very easy to do given it’s Twitter integration.

    I’m all in favor of a better twitter headline, but I’m not offended as a user if it’s just an RSS catch.

  3. 1. Let’s stipulate I could be wrong on this point.
    2. You’re right. The headline should be clear, concise and make the reader want to know more.

    Having said that, I think I can write a better tweet headline, given the looser style of Twitter. When I have time I’ll try to offer an example.

    But let me ask you this: How long do you think it would take you to tweet a link to a news story that was still on the monitor in front of you?

  4. shouldn’t your headline do that anyway?

    I guess the only way to tell for sure is to A-B test it.

    Have some reporter put a catchy title and have another let it feed the title automatically. See who gets more click through.

  5. A good point. But if I went to the time and effort that even a routine story requires, I’d want it to be seen by as many people as possible. I remain convinced that my chances of getting that click-through from the tweet are higher if I take 30 seconds to craft the best 140 characters I can.

  6. You know, I don’t mind auto RSS tweets as long as if there is something going on live it’s tweeted by a real person.

    What I can’t stand is auto RSS in Facebook. I would much rather have an editor choose which stories are posted to Facebook.

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