When people criticize it, try substituting the word "Twitter" with the phrase "talking with people," and see if the criticism still makes sense.
In this one line, he nails the argument that Twitter should not be singled out for special disdain or admiration on the basis of who is using it, or how (or how silly the name sounds). It is just a tool, a technology, one of many that facilitates interaction between people.
For journalists, better interaction (with readers, sources, commentators, experts, witnesses) can improve how they do their jobs. Twitter can also be a source of breaking news.
Start conversations. (And this time, we mean it.)
The same theme emerged at Mathew's talk at Third Tuesday Ottawa, a week ago, organized by Joe Thornley and friends. He talked then about the "tools" (including the Globe's public policy wiki, it's use of CoverItLive -- a powerful tool that is a vast improvement over the "fake" live-blogging the paper had in place previously -- Twitter and more) and how these tools can be put to use.
As Mathew put it, the former tagline of the Globe, "Start Conversations," is more than a slogan to most journalists, and something that motivates many Globe reporters. Until recently, however, those conversations would take place somewhere else, and the journalists had a limited ability to participate.
More and more, those conversations are taking within the Globe platform, and journalists are beginning to engage. (Mathew talked about encouraging reporters to get more engaged in the comments. He noted that not participating is like throwing a party, and leaving when the guests show up.)
A "social" experiment
He characterized the Globe's investments in these tools as an "experiment."
It sounds like the experiment is working. The Globe will be doing "more of everything" it's been doing. "If people decamp from Twitter and go and use a different tool, with an even stupider name," the Globe will go there with them, Mathew noted.
The bottom line?
So, as people increasingly go online to consume their fix of news, and the traditional revenue sources (print advertising, subscriptions) suffer, what does all this community-building do for the revenue model of most newspapers? How will newspapers make money in the future?
Mathew admitted that that is an not-yet-solved puzzle, but that, like all the best newspapers, the Globe is connecting passionate people to the subjects they are most passionate about. "If we can't figure out how to monetize that, we deserve to fail."
Another post of interest
I really liked this post from Jay Rosen that summarizes some of the latest thinking on the future of the newsroom, via links to 12+ other posts.
Image: © Photographer: Stepanov | Agency: Dreamstime.com