One of the reasons the innovative political news blog Talking Points Memo is great is Josh Marshall’s practice of soliciting tips and research from the reading community. Since @joshtpm is now on Twitter, this could be a great new source for quick tips. One of the common and powerful uses of Twitter is to ask a question of one’s readers. It’s a quick way to learn from the collective knowledge of the community.
When TalkingPointsMemo solicits tips, they can put the twitter address among the ways to reach TPM. Journalists new to twitter should know that you don’t need to follow people to see their tips. All the TPM team would need to do is to go to Twitter search, enter @joshtpm and see mentions of that Twitter handle. TPM could even set up a public tip line by sharing a “hashtag” – a word that starts with a hashmark – like #tpmtips. Then they can use a persistent search to see all the tweets with #tpm tips. Of course this works only for public tips – but there is plenty of information about our political system that hides in plain sight – for example, what is a politician saying in his own district.
The fact that WSJ reporterJulia Angwin sees Twitter as primarily a broadcast medium – even though she learned about it by following colleagues – suggests that using Twitter as a means of learning from your audience hasn’t yet gotten good adoption yet in the journalist community.