Twitter for Newshounds: My New Strategy

Today I set up a new Twitter account just for following the news. It helps.

I’m both a media/news geek and an avid Twitter user. Also, several news organizations post their current headlines and breaking news updates to Twitter. These facts have dovetailed nicely for me — I follow several news orgs on Twitter.

But this morning, I had to make a change. The news orgs were drowning out the people on Twitter. And I want — and need — to hear both.

Most news orgs that post to Twitter do so with a minimum of effort. They use Twitterfeed: a free service that automatically converts items from your RSS feed into Twitter updates (“tweets”) to your account. News orgs generally update their sites — and hence their feeds — very often. Therefore, it’s common for several tweets from a news org to hit Twitter all at once. The problem is that in a scrolling display like Twitter’s (and most third-party applications for accessing Twitter), this can have the effect of visually crowding out posts from individuals. This only gets worse if you follow more than one or two news orgs via Twitter.

I have several Twitter accounts, which I use for different purposes, so I mainly access Twitter using Twhirl — a popular Twitter application that supports multiple accounts. So I just set up a new Twitter account (newsamy) specifically for managing my news subscriptions. I then “unfollowed” all news orgs at my main Twitter account, and started following them (plus several new ones) at newsamy instead.

Now, when I want to keep an eye on Twitter, I keep a window for each account open in Twhirl. This makes it much easier for me to see what more people and more news orgs are saying. I can close either or both windows when I want less background noise. So far, I really like it.

My plan is to not post any tweets at all from my newsamy account — it’s strictly a listening post for me. So there’s no point in anyone following me on that account, nothing will be happening there. But here’s the list of news orgs I currently follow there. (UPDATE: LOL, I already changed my mind about that. Had to complain to USA Today about a particularly useless tweet of theirs.)

Does your news org post to Twitter? If so, you might want to leave a comment telling Red66, so they can add you to their list. If you want me to follow you, send me an “@ reply” on Twitter to my main account (@agahran) and I may check you out for awhile. (Don’t send a reply to @newsamy, I don’t receive replies there.)

UPDATE: Matt Sebastian mentioned that another Twitter application, Tweetdeck, can help accomplish similar goals by allowing you to create groups within your list of Twitter friends (people you follow). That’s another great solution. However, at this time it doesn’t appear that Tweetdeck supports multiple Twitter accounts. Personally, I need to use multiple accounts (especially since I have amylive for live event coverage via Twitter) — so Twhirl is a better option for me at this point.

NOTE: I originally posted this to Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits.

Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

OpenDemocracy, via Flickr (CC license)
What might this Malian girl and I have in common, and what might we learn from each other? How could we know if we can’t really connect?

This morning I listened to an excellent Radio Open Source interview. Host Christopher Lydon was talking to Global Voices Online founder Ethan Zuckerman and GVO managing editor Solana Larsen. I’m a huge fan of GVO and read it regularly — mainly since I enjoy hearing from people in parts of the world I generally don’t hear much about (or from) otherwise.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion concerned how homophily shapes our individual and collective view of the world. Homophily is a fancy word for the human equivalent of “birds of a feather flock together.” That is, our tendency to associate and bond with people we have stuff in common with — language, culture, race, class, work, interests, life circumstances, etc.

Zuckerman made a profound point: Homophily makes you stupid. Which is another way of saying something my dad told me a long, long time ago:

“You’ll never learn anything if you only talk to people who already think just like you.”

Here’s what Zuckerman actually told Lydon about how homophily makes it hard for people from around the world to relate constructively…
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Get my favorite news headline podcasts via MediaFly

My Mediafly profile currently contains these news headline podcasts.

Yesterday I offered some tips about making news podcasts smart. Today, Contentious reader Carson commented, “You should create a public profile on to allow people easy access to those feeds. Or, take their public RSS aggregated feed and put it on your blog, then people just need to sign up for one feed instead of all of them.”

Great idea, Carson! Thanks!

I hadn’t known about MediaFly, so I just checked it out. It is indeed a really useful tool for sharing podcasts. (Yet another example of my community collectively being much smarter and better connected than I am — perhaps my main motivation for blogging.)

So I just created a public profile on MediaFly and moved all my news headline podcast subscriptions over there. It seems to work well with my iTunes.

Anyway, here’s the feed for my collection of favorite news headline podcasts, if you want to check them out: feed://

That’s probably the easiest way to get them all at once. Keep in mind that I try out new podcasts periodically, so the shows in that feed will vary somewhat over time.

Whadya think? Does this work for you?

Getting Smart About News Podcasts
See how simple podcast show notes can be?

(NOTE: I just published this on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, which is mainly read by mainstream journalists and journalism educators, but I thought Contentious readers might find it interesting, too.)

Like many net users, I get a lot of my news via podcasts. I’ve sampled several news podcasts and have settled on a few favorites as my current primary daily heads-up on the top stories: AP Newsbeat (1 min.), Denver Post All News (8-10 min.), NYT Front Page (5 min.), NPR News (5 min.), WSJ What’s News (3-4 min.) — and, of course, The Onion Radio News (1 min., a complete story, not a summary). Occasionally I also listen to BBC Newspod but that’s rare, since it typically runs 35-40 min.

(UPDATE Jan 24: If you want to subscribe to my favorite news headline podcasts all at once, I created a Mediafly public feed for them.)

That may sound like a lot, but since I listen to them while I’m doing other things (cleaning, cooking, e-mail, exercising, etc.). It’s actually pretty efficient, especially since I like to see how different news orgs are choosing stories on any given day. And I’m not alone in that — most news junkies follow multiple news venues daily.

There is a problem, though: None of my favorite news podcasts exercise their full potential for engagement. But used wisely, a good headlines podcast can support any news org’s bottom line.

If you want to get more direct benefit and mileage from your news podcasts, here’s my advice…

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CA Wildfires: Watershed Moment for Collaborative Online News?

Alex Miroshnichenko
Freelance photojournalist Alex Miroshnichenko is offering great fire coverage (and smart marketing of his skills) with Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr.

For the last few days at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, I’ve been blogging examples of innovative ways that online media is being used to cover the Southern CA wildfires. It’s been astonishing. There have been cool efforts from mainstream news orgs like SignOn San Diego and the Los Angeles Times and even FOX News.

But also, regular people and even some government officials have been using blogs, forums, mapping tools, social media sites, citizen journalism sites like NowPublic, media-sharing services like Flickr, and even Twitter to share news, information, updates, and assistance.

Personally, I think this is shaping up to be a watershed moment for online news. This time, it all seems to be coming together in a new way.

In particular, the collaborative tone of this content that strikes me as significant: map mashups, databases, forums, photo groups, social media, Twitter updates… You can really get a direct sense of how people fit into this story, what they’re doing, and what they want or need. It’s personal, diverse, detailed, and comprehensive.

This is a whole different concept of “news.” It’s becoming a verb, something you DO — not just a noun (a thing that you passively receive)….

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