11 (and counting) things journalism will lose if Elon Musk destroys Twitter – Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard | Team Cansler

“If Twitter were gone, my job would actually be very different,” I told my husband this week.

“You mean like you actually have to work?” he said.

NO, I mean if Twitter goes away, Journalism Today loses a lot of really concrete things! And here they are: A list of things journalism will lose and ways it will change if Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter leads to its closure.

The version of the story below includes embedded tweets. I saved a second version that includes tweet screenshots so we can keep this post if tweet embeds stop working.

Please keep the ideas coming and I will update this list. you can find me on twitter as long as it stays up, or email me here.

Real-time feedback, criticism and perspectives on stories

The tweet that originally inspired me to write this piece was from Jenée Desmond Harriswho writes Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column.

Brent bracketsan author and member of the editorial board of The New York Times, and Stewart Colesan assistant professor in the Department of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign weighed in.

Quote tweets were a crucial part of that, noted John flowersa professor at American University.

A regular reminder of the problems with “objectivity”

Twitter is an excellent place to publicly denounce news organizations for anything stupid or lazy. This ties in with Desmond-Harris’ point above, but the potential for public credit likely contributed to many media outlets’ decisions to break away from outdated notions of “objectivity.”

It’s not that pile-ons and public shaming are always a force for good. But Twitter has taken on something of a public editor role, and that’s to its advantage. When editors and reporters know there’s a good chance they’ll be called out publicly, they’re likely to spend more time trying to validate an argument, track down a few additional sources, or double-check their data.

A recent NPR tweet is a good example of how Twitter has pushed news outlets to be more direct. Of course, NPR wouldn’t tweet if we didn’t have twitter. But what I mean is that if Twitter hadn’t helped work towards it, we would probably be seeing less of this type of news.

That Place for breaking news

Screenshots of the best bits

Goodbye, screenshots of the juiciest part of a story. Goodbye reporter threads breaking down the best parts so you don’t to have to read the whole thing – at best, these are “like a tldr or an instant expert’s note,” my colleague Sarah Scire written down.

An amazing way to find sources, experts and brand new research

When a family member was diagnosed with a rare disease, I only had to spend about an hour on Twitter to find a handful of experts on the disease nationwide. All responded to my DMs within hours and one doctor gave me her personal phone number.

Twitter offers journalists easy access to academic and scientific communities. We can learn about new scientific research straight from the source (and threads from academics about their own research are often invaluable; see also the “TLDR” Sarah mentioned above.)

And procurement is just getting harder.

DMs as a reporting tool

Sitting somewhere between a text and an email, DMs are an amazing way to connect with sources even if the conversation later moves away from Twitter. I don’t think anyone has ever declined my request to “follow for DM” while another email in the inbox is easy to ignore. Direct messages just don’t seem as annoying as email in most cases.

An internet directory

Because no thanks, LinkedIn.

“This tweet should be a story”

Real-time conference coverage

If you couldn’t attend a conference, you could catch the highlights from Twitter, pointed out Edder Campuzanoa reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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