I thought Washington Post Ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton’s story today about WaPo Metro reporters & editors now being mandated to Tweet and Facebook by editor Vernon Loeb was missing a few points. We’ve known now since 2009 that Twitter drives the news cycle (the Iranian protests.)
Pexton points out that Post reporters Chris Cilizza (82,000 followers) and Ezra Klein (78, 000) were able to break the possible Geithner resignation 14 hours before the Post’s print edition. I thought Geithner had walked that story back (new information) which means, as is often the case, first doesn’t always mean right.
I saw the confusion on Twitter and Facebook the night of the News York State vote for same sex marriage…many thought the first vote, exempting religious institutions, was the real vote, and celebrated online prematurely–repeating each others’ mistake for quite a while…until the actual voting started. That night separated the real reporters from the casual ones pretty clearly.
The other missing piece of the story is the part that old fashioned television plays in Cilizza’s and Klein’s success: their frequent–I would say mulitple times daily– appearances on cable drive up those numbers. So while we trumpet new media, let’s keep in mind the part “old” media continues to play in its dotage.
In case you’re interested in how television has driven other Twitter stars–a sample of pundits of color that I follow who get considerable facetime: Ann Curry (1,200,00) Gayle King (321,000) Donna Brazile (126,307 )Tavis Smiley (112,000) Lisa Ling (85,000) Soledad O’Brien (82,354) Robin Roberts (78,000) Roland Martin (63,300) Melissa Harris Perry (32,735) culture critic Toure (31, 264) Charles Blow of NYTimes (18,700), Liza Sabater, Latina who tweets as BlogDiva (14,000), WaPo’s Johnathan Capehart (8,912.) Well, and then there’s NYTimes superstar Nick Kristof –not a person of color, but who covers many of them–at 1,120,023. Followed distantly by one Carol Jenkins (655.) Oh, Oprah, you ask? Around 6 and half million Twitter followers at last counting.
So, WaPo, welcome to the new world. Twitter and Facebook are here to stay–at least until the next new best thing.