My second session of the day was titled “Twitter for Editors.” The session itself turned out to be a pretty straightforward introduction to Twitter, but I was able to jump into the Q&A afterward to share with people some of the things we’re doing at the Missourian. One question was: “What do we stop doing to make time for tweeting?”
That’s a question of priorities, of course. Those of you who’ve had been in editing class with me will be familiar with the concept of editing triage; some things are more important than others, and you usually can’t do everything. And yes, I’d put tweeting well down the list of a copy editor’s priorities (though not the news organization’s). But I jumped in to make this point: We’ve got to make copy editors more valuable. Clearly the top editors at many news organizations don’t value what we do enough, and so a lot of copy editors are losing their jobs. Taking on the task of tweeting for your news organization makes your job bigger, in a way that is likely to show results that will impress those same editors. We know at the Missourian that the more we tweet, the more we generate traffic to the website. Our analytics confirm that Twitter.com and direct referral (largely links via Twitter apps, we’ve surmised) are increasingly important contributors to our traffic.
After the session, Henry Fuhrmann, the assistant managing editor in charge of copy desks at the Los Angeles Times, introduced himself to me. He said copy editors at the Times have taken on the task of tweeting after hours, seeing it as an important contribution to the newspaper’s audience efforts and a natural extension of what copy editors already do. The Missourian, which places primary responsibility for tweeting on its copy desk, is on the right track, I think. And clearly, copy editors, learning to tweet well is a skill you can sell to desk chiefs.