One careless tweet could sink the fleet.
Advice from BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg, who warned of the power of a single tweet to bring down politicians and political correspondents alike. Kuenssberg, who did her fair share of tweeting during the general election last month, is specific about what she tweets:
I still use it broadly for the same things [pre and post-election] and I’m quite strict about why I would tweet. I use it for simple breaking news and information (…) it’s the fastest way of getting it out there even with 24-hour television.
I also use it for the kind of colour you see as a journalist – not gossip, not rumour. These are often the things that get retweeted the most; things that as a journalist you see with your own eyes but might not get to broadcast.
As a lobby journalist you’ve got a ticket to a very small world. You are witness to a very closed world. Its part of my job to reach out to people and give them moments of colour that they otherwise wouldn’t see.
Having trialled using twitter during the party political conferences in 2009, Kuenssberg’s following on the social network grew from around 5,000 pre-election to 23,000 post-election. But it hasn’t changed how she works, she says – just added to it:
Twitter has just become another outlet. It’s highly compatible with my job because I’m normally out and about. It has given journalists more material – not a massive amount, because so far we haven’t had massive breaking stories from citizen journalists.
Social media as a “paper trail” – tracking down the backgrounds of PPCs and following what they’ve said pre-election on Twitter – was particularly useful however, said Kuennsberg.
Although it’s still a small group of people using Twitter, it has shown me that there’s a big interest in what we do. There’s a huge appetite for politics and I think we’re reaching some people who weren’t consuming political news in any way before.