Mallary Jean Tenore of poynter.org collected tips for how journalists can build a bigger, more engaged audience. They are good for reminding journalists how the online world differs from the traditional worlds of print and broadcast news. For instance, you include the names of sources in tweets and Facebook updates about your story; if that seems to grate on your traditionalist nerves, think of the traditionalist parallel: names and places, as in getting local names and local places in the paper makes the paper inherently more interesting to local readers. And the tip to tweet follow-ups, even (or especially) if your follow-up is online later in the day that you first tweeted about the story, is a reminder that the online news world is always in motion, and your potential audience is moving in and out of the social network through the day.
However, some of the tips make me cringe at the potential of some journalist somewhere thinking all the tips apply equally to all stories. For instance: “Let sources know about your story, ask them to share it.” It probably would not be a good idea to e-mail Councilman Smith and ask him to tweet about your story quoting Councilwoman Jones calling him a pig and including his paraphrase of Dan Aykroyd’s line to Jane Curtin from the old Point-Counterpoint skits on “Saturday Night Live.” Similarly: “Comment on stories that have been written about the topic, and include a link to your story” does not mean you are encouraged to spout your opinion on whatever ongoing story you are covering; any comments you make should adhere to common sense and news guidelines on social media (or, as John Robinson of the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., put it, “Don’t be stupid.”)