Retweets

First, let’s talk about retweeting news from other sources.

One of PBS’ documentary units @WomenWarPeace is great at doing this. In the following post, @WomenWarPeace RTs a New York Times article directly from another account, @IHTFemaleFactor, bringing two new voices or sources into the conversation. This is one way of encouraging collaboration with other organizations and discussions within your own Twitter feed.

In the two tweets below, @WomenWarPeace does not RT another news article. They simply link to it using the phrase “Via @” which gives the source of the article credit and brings other voices and publications working on the same issues into one visible location.

Both methods work, and right now there is no need to prefer one over the other as long as the source of the information is included so as not to confuse viewers.

What is interesting about this, though, from my research at CNN In America is that many documentary units and journalists are already doing something similar to this. They are already reading news from other organizations covering similar topics to their own, mostly as research for their own pieces, and discussing it amongst themselves in the newsroom. The change now then, is not in creating an entirely new habit, but in working this habit into your every day routine.

Take CNN In America’s daily blog post, Engage, by the Director of Engagement, Alicia Stewart. Every day Stewart posts three to five articles from sources outside of CNN onto their unit’s blog. She finds these articles everyday by browsing a number of different news sources and blogs online and following links.

To put these posts on Twitter, using the first part of the @WomenWarPeace model, all she would have to do is type a short description of the article with the link and an attribution using via @. 

Stewart could specifically tailor the people In America follows on Twitter to include those news organizations, sites or people that consistently offer interesting and insightful news on the topics that are relevant to her and the unit.

Once the number of people In America is following though becomes too great — which may be the case after a few documentaries have passed and the feed has begun to follow users and participants interested in the topics specific to an individual documentary — Twitter lists may be more effective.

Twitter lists are great because you do not have to personally follow all of the people on a certain list in order to see their updates, although you can if you want — and because you, if you create the list, can pick and choose who or what appears on it. Before you create your own list, though, it may be worth checking out other individual’s or organization’s profiles to see if there is a pre-existing list of news organizations that someone else has created that works for you and your unit’s needs. In the end, though, you and only you knows what kind of lists to follow or what kind of organizations to put on the list that works for your niche.

As a final option, RSS feeds also help to bring other stories around specific topics into view. With RSS feeds and viewers such as Google Reader, not only can journalists choose what sources they would like to receive information from, but also what key words they would like the information pertain to. This could work well for organizations like CNN In America, who could create an RSS feed of information from content on The Grio, The Root, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc. that mentions the words minority, diversity, African American, Obama, etc.