Gawker is one of my favorite blogs to read – it’s snarky, it’s fun, it’s informative and usually it’s right on the money. The other day though, I was a little surprised to read an entry on “The Laziest Journalists on Twitter.” In the post, Ryan Tate called out BusinessWeek’s Douglas MacMillan, WSJ’s Jessica Vascellaro, Wired’s Priya Ganapati and Fortune’s Jessi Hempel, calling them lazy for tweeting requests for sources when working on stories.
Now, I realize Ryan may have been teasing more than shaming, since he acknowledged Gawker itself tweets for sources all the time. But I was surprised anyone would consider a journalist tweeting for help getting in touch with sources to be lazy behavior. On the flip side – it’s a smart and resourceful use of a really effective (and efficient) social networking tool. Reporters have been using tools like Help A Reporter Out and ProfNet to find sources, and no one criticizes those tactics. More old-school journos keep a database of their PR friends and past sources and when they are in a bind, they shoot out email blasts soliciting pitches on a particular topic. Using Twitter, Facebook and any other mode of communication to accomplish the same thing should be a non-issue. I’m proud to admit I’ve responded to numerous “calls for pitches” on Twitter over the past few months – for everyone from Doug to a local news station in New Hampshire and just the other night, another BusinessWeek reporter (Rachael King).
Mainstream media should be encouraged to use the newest tools and networks to do their jobs better – not chastized for it.
Related reading: “How can journalists use Twitter?“