Friday, October 16, 2009

The Value of Twitter, Part 3: The Informational

The Value of Twitter Series:
Part 1: The Personal
Part 2: The Professional
Part 3: The Informational
Part 4: Join the Conversation
Part 5: An Annotated Conversation

In the first post of this series, I outlined three major areas where I find value in Twitter: the personal, the professional, and the informational. Of the three, the informational is probably the easiest to understand.

Virtually every news-gathering agency maintains a Twitter feed at this point. The 140-character format actually works very well for delivering a news headline with a link to the full story. I follow a few key news services to keep up with international, national, state and local news.

And it’s surprisingly easy to do. I prefer the BBC World for international news, and Breaking News for most everything else (I found if I followed too many news sources the feed got cluttered with a lot of repetitive tweets). Other people use CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. –- depends on what flavor you like your news in.

But the real advantage of Twitter for me is the local coverage. In our little community of Orange, Virginia, we have a local newspaper that publishes weekly. The regional television stations do a good job, but I seldom catch the morning, noon or evening newscasts. So one might think it’s difficult for me to keep up with local events.

But when our board of supervisors abruptly canceled a controversial meeting in the early afternoon, I knew about it. As I did with every other important event that’s happened in our county (and there have been several). Why? Because I followed the Twitter feed of said regional TV station, NBC Channel 29.

And that’s the informational value of Twitter to me. I receive live updates of important events nationally, and locally. If I want more information, I can click on the provided link and get it. If not, at least I’m aware of the event.

Twitter’s what you make of it. Choose the news feeds you follow carefully, and it can be a valuable resource. Twitter’s not the be-all and end-all, but it can be a good place to start.

- Ralph

Day 184 of the WJMA Podwatch


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