20130420-234915.jpg Twitter is a reporter’s dream, per Janine Gibson (@janinegibson), Editor in Chief of the Guardian US, speaking today at the Social Media Summit presented by the New York Times, Knight Foundation, and the BBC Academy’s College of Journalism.

“Twitter is always first with news now,” New York Times President, Mark Thompson, told the Summit, “TV news is a poor second.” Rather than tweeters sharing CNN reports that the suspect had been captured on Thursday night, it was just the opposite.

Rather than MSNBC TV relying on only their own reporters in Watertown on Thursday night, their anchor called on citizen journalist, Andrew Kitzenberg (@akitz). MSNBC located Kitzenberg via Twitter and hooked up with him via Skype to provide first hand reports, with video, of a gun fight and explosions out his window.

Kate Myers, product manager, social media atNPR, (@NPRKate) shared on Twitter, during the Summit, that “Journalists are biased towards @twitter because we can see almost everything out there on Twitter. Facebook is a walled garden.”

Sure, as offline, there is information shared on Twitter which turns out to be false. When sourcing via Twitter, reporters have to make the same judgment about sources they always have, per Thompson.

Twitter represents a wonderful opportunity for lawyers who are committed to sharing, on Twitter, news and information regarding their niche area of law or locale. I don’t mean sharing your blog posts, I mean monitoring news and the law, and being a source of regular updates.

In addition to sharing information, “connect’ with relevant reporters, editors, and publishers. Follow them on Twitter, sharing items they are tweeting. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Get to know the information and stories which pique their interest. Get to know them as people, just as you build and nurture relationships with others on social media.

Sure, it may be niche reporters or publishers for you, not reporters with the national press or even major local newspapers or TV stations.

Reporters and editors with BNA, ALM, Reuters Legal, and Bloomberg Law may be a good fit. So may local business journals. Maybe it’s a reporter with a trade publication which covers the industry in which your clients are doing business. Take time digging, it’ll be worth it.

You’ll not be able to rely on others in making connections via Twitter. Traditional PR connecting lawyers as authorities with reporters is quickly dying. Authentic and real engagement that builds trust will require your personal participation listening to and sharing on Twitter, not using a ghost.

Everyone is just beginning to learn how to make Twitter work for them. This goes for reporters as well as you, a lawyer. You’ve got an opportunity to learn alongside reporters who have similar interests. You can get to know them and then can begin to trust you as a reliable authority.

Twitter can be a Win/Win for you and reporters. Lawyers quoted in the mainstream media as authorities in their field enhance their word of mouth reputation. Reporters are looking for experts they can trust — often on a very short deadline.

Twitter is a reporter’s dream. Take advantage of it — in a real and genuine way.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Shawn Campbell.