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Does tweeting make you a journalist?

Defining the new journalist

Last week I was reading a press release I received from Ad.ly, a Twitter platform that connects Twitter users with advertisers like Nestle, Microsoft Are bloggers journalistsand Sony, allowing the Twitter user to make money from ads sent through their Twitter feed. Additionally, you can sign up at Ad.ly and opt to donate your earnings to a charity of your choice, an attractive option – particularly around the holidays. 

Pretty cool, right? But that’s not what got me thinking. The press release says, “Twitter users, also known as publishers…”

Wait – what?

Reading on, I receive further explanation: “The founders consider each publisher as an influencer in their own right…”

Okay, fair enough.

So, if we are calling Twitter users publishers because they are producing content for an audience and are influencers, can we take that one step further and call Twitter users journalists?

Many of you might find that notion ridiculous – and no doubt many traditional journalists would not like to equate their craft to Ashton Kutcher’s last status update. However, it was not so long ago that the majority guffawed at the thought of bloggers being defined as journalists. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to win the argument that bloggers are not journalists.

Blogging has clearly become a news medium. However, there are over 1.4 million Google results for “Are bloggers journalists?” In fact, if you type, “Are blogg…” into Google’s search bar, the question above populates as the first search term (see image).

Influencers on any social platform are clearly becoming a hot commodity for communications professionals. The success of word-of-mouth campaigns when targeted towards users with a lot of social capital has grown exponentially with the explosion of social media.

So – who is the new journalist? Are we all? Do you think that Twitter users can be considered journalists? What does this mean for communications professionals? If nothing else, in the same way that the traditional definition of a journalist is rapidly evolving, the differences between media relations, public relations and community relations are rapidly fading away as the lines between journalists and end-users blur.

(To continue exploring this topic, I recommend participating in #journchat tonight… the topic is “the convergence (or not) of journalism, public relations and blogging.” I have a previous engagement, so I won’t be able to participate, but I’ll be looking forward to reading the transcripts.)

Tags : social media

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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