How to Build Newsy Twitter Lists

Last week we posted this, and the point was basically: in order to have an excellent, interesting, informative, useful Twitter experience, we need to become great Twitter list builders.

So, here’s Matthew Keys, who does social media for Reuters, on how to build awesome Twitter lists for news events. But it really applies to anything—a beat you want to stay on top of if you’re a journalist, a topic you’re exploring as a professional, etc. See here to read the full list of tips, because what follows is our abridged version:

sixtimesanhour:

1. Tap into local news organizations:

  • If you happen to know the names of the television stations, newspapers and news radio stations in a particular area where a news event is happening, great! Look up their Twitter account and add them to the list.
  • If you don’t, here’s a trick: Google “[city name] ABC station” or “[city name] newspaper.” Generally, I’ll search Google five times: Four times to look for the affiliates of the big four TV stations (ABCNBCCBSFOX) in a city, and a fifth time to look for a local paper. Some major cities, like New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis, also have all news radio stations, so it’s worth looking for those too.

2. Tap into journalists/reporters covering the event/beat:

  • The “News Team,” “Bios” or “About Us” pages of most local news websites will often include the Twitter accounts of journalists who are active on social media accounts. Branded accounts for most local news organizations will also re-tweet their reporters, so keep an eye out for that too.

3. Include law enforcement, government officials, community leaders:

  • Government officials are often known to make remarks or offer guidance following a large news event (like a crime that has a communal impact or a severe weather event). Depending on the event, you may want to consider adding the Twitter accounts of local mayors, city councilmembers, congressmen and governors. (Example: During Hurricane Sandy, the Twitter accounts of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie offered valuable information on gas rationing, mass transit, where to find shelter, what numbers to call in both emergencies and non-emergencies, and so on).

4. Seek out local, county, state and federal agencies and charities:

  • Many local, county, state and federal agencies are also embracing social platforms to push out near-real-time information. The National Weather Service has several “experimental” Twitter accounts, broken down by region, that move urgent weather information and forecasts for a particular area (one example would be @NWSBayArea, the Twitter account for the San Francisco Bay Area in California). The US Geological Survey has a Twitter account, @USGS, that tweets major earthquakes when they happen.

5. Embrace eyewitnesses and “citizen journalists,” but be cautious:

  • Choosing citizen journalists for news lists can be tricky. Often, citizen journalists lack the kind of news judgment needed to objectively report on a news event, but that doesn’t mean citizen journalists are inherently biased or inaccurate. I tend to use eyewitnesses and citizen journalists sparingly in my own Twitter lists, but I have discovered some who produce truly compelling content and are objective in the broadcasting of their information. Be picky when adding eyewitnesses and citizen journalists to lists, but make a mental note of one or two individuals if they’re producing good content (and always remember to credit them if you use their information or content in your product).

Bonus: He also shares tips on how to find breaking news photos on Twitter.

Now, build away!

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    I’ve been meaning to actually use twitter. At the moment, I follow a handful of comedians and never ever check the site....
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