By Kevin O'Keefe

Journalists — and law bloggers — need to stay on Twitter


Sociology professor and author of “Citizens at the Gates: Twitter, Networked Publics, and the Transformation of American Journalism,” Stephen Barnard is the latest to comment on New York Times White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman’s  criticism of Twitter as a lasting medium for journalists.

With so much news, noise and criticism to sift through, Haberman can no longer realize the value she has in the past from Twitter. She can’t continue to respond to those who engage her.

I questioned Haberman’s approach to Twitter, arguing that she may have created some of her own problems by overextending herself on Twitter.

Barnard acknowledges the issues faced by Haberman and others as being real, but nonetheless explains just how important Twitter is for journalists.

Studies have shown that more than half of journalists use Twitter for professional purposes.  They track breaking news and make themselves more accessible to readers. While engaging with the “people formerly known as the audience” can take a toll on reporters, knowing what the public thinks is critical.

My research has shown that we use social media not just to consume news, but also to participate in the process of making, sharing, and critiquing it.  Whether or not journalists have been responsive to the public, they have been there to hear them.

Journalists need to stay on Twitter if they are going to retain the public’s trust and their audience.

The news media cannot regain trust if they stop listening to their audience.  So I urge journalists to stay with us on Twitter.  We need you.  The rules of the game are not perfect, the playing field is not even, and far too many bad actors remain among our ranks.  But, you are our “custodians of conscience,” our referees, if you will.  And, if you leave in the middle of this fight, we all lose.

Twitter is just as important, if not more important, for blogging lawyers.

Established journalists may already have an estabslished audience. Not so for legal professionals.

Listening and sharing, especially other’s stories, on Twitter establishes trust for lawyers. An audience is established. The audience begins to disseminate a lawyer’s posts to grow the lawyer’s audience.

Twitter is invaluable for a blogging lawyer for tracking news and legal developments. Trust also counts when tracking such news and info. Twitter enables lawyers to listen to sources they’ve come to trust via Twitter.

Twitter enables blogging lawyers to get out and mingle with the public — real people the vast majority of lawyers totally ignore. Especially those lawyers who blog solely to get attention for themselves.

Consequently, blogging lawyers who use Twitter make legal services more accessible. The lawyers are out mingling with real people. Individuals begin to trust lawyers as people, see what lawyers do and become more informed in selecting the right lawyer for them – perhaps the blogging lawyer.

Don’t blow off Twitter as a blogging. We need you. And you need Twitter.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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