Should Newspeople Be Tweeting?

For the people who care about that sort of thing, MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann is now Tweeting. Now, this isn’t unusual. After all, a lot of people in the news industry are Tweeting.

Which leads me to a very important question: should people in the news industry be Tweeting?

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams was asked last December if he Tweeted, and this was his response:

Our team has used Twitter on occasion. I see it as kind of a time suck that I don’t need any more of. Just too much “I got the most awesome new pair of sweatpants.” I’m going to go ahead and assume that people buy awesome sweatpants every day and that I don’t need to know them by name.

Following this same line of thinking, you have George Stephanopoulos, co-host of “Good Morning America” on ABC, and CBS News anchor Katie Couric. At the Walter Cronkite Awards last April, Stephanopoulos and Couric said they don’t Twitter often, but it serves a purpose in the news world. In the case of Stephanopoulos, getting ideas for interview questions from viewers.

One newsperson whose Twitter indulgence is famous in media circles is CNN’s Rick Sanchez. He’s a prolific Twitter user, and utilizes it to gauge the opinions of his viewers.

Of course, just as regular people who have Twitter use it for silly, irrelevant catfights, the same happens to newspeople. Sanchez drew headlines for the following two Tweets about one of his cable rivals, Fox News.

Let me remind you that Rick Sanchez is supposed to be a news anchor, not a commentator.

A more recent incident involving a news anchor on Twitter is the curious case of MSNBC’s David Shuster (who has been suspended indefinitely after filming a pilot for CNN) several months ago.

To sum up the backstory, there’s this group called ACORN, who some people like and some people don’t. And a young person secretly filmed them and caught them doing not nice things. People who don’t like ACORN praised this young person, and even suggested he be given a journalism award.

Then this same young person got in trouble for trying to break into a Senator’s office attempting to wiretap her phone lines.

Then Mr. Shuster released the following Tweet.

Whoops.

After that misstep, he kind of stopped using his Twitter account (most likely at the request of MSNBC.)

Still, at least most of the newspeople who use Twitter keep their Tweets limited to news-related stuff. Would anyone like to disprove that theory? Say, someone who’s currently anchoring one of the most famous and prestigious interview programs in our nation’s history?

And if you don’t Twitter, you will slip and fall into obscurity.

Stay classy, news!

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