Pulitzer-winner discusses her use of Twitter

Sara Ganim

Sara Ganim, the reporter who earned fame and a Pulitzer for her coverage of the Jerry Sandusky trial, said recently that she uses Twitter “mostly to get the word out.”

In a discussion with Justin Ellis of the Nieman Journalism Lab, Ganim, a crime reporter, described how Twitter’s role in a press often focused on rapidity can be both good and bad.

“I use Twitter to get information out fast. It’s faster to get it out on Twitter than our website first. That’s how I use it,” she said. “But the flip side is to not go too quickly and not before you have it verified like you would for the website.”

Ganim’s point reminded me of my first live-tweeting assignment earlier this year. Twitter, for all its speed and reach, can be a double-edged sword.

Touching further on this topic, Ganim offered a good standard for thinking before tweeting.

“Would I write this in the paper? Am I confident enough in this information that I would let it go to the presses right now? Because that’s essentially what you are doing,” she said.

The transcript of the interview gives an impression that Ganim has reservations about the conversation that takes place on Twitter and the sometimes extreme viewpoints people express. But she noted a use of the platform that I have yet to thoroughly discuss on this blog: as a measuring stick for reader reaction.

“I do use it as some kind of gauge of what my audience is thinking when I’m really in the weeds on a story,” she said.

This is a very important characteristic of Twitter to consider and is likely one of its more significant assets for the media. Anything that can help a reporter connect to readers is good for journalism.

Photo (cc) by pennstatelive and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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